Creating a learning culture is like any other cultural change, it takes time and effort. It won’t happen because it is demanded, required, dictated or legislated.
Learning is an intensely personal activity and requires certain characteristics. For a start, someone has to accept that they don’t know something and be willing to learn. After willingness comes to the challenge of how to go about learning. We all have different learning styles or ways we learn best. Finding a way to learn that works for you, is super important.
I think we can accept that many people know stuff, but that does not mean they are capable of applying their knowledge. Implementing the learning is vital for there to be any meaningful impact. The only real measurement of learning is the capability of a person to do something as a result of that learning.
Learning requires curiosity. It requires a willingness to sometimes suspend what we think we know to allow us to view things in a new way. Learning is about being open to change and accepting that the impact of the learning may require some uncomfortable adjustments to how things are done.
If we accept that all of the above is true, creating a learning culture is going to be a major cultural shift and takes time.
A Learning Culture has shown to:
- boost creativity,
- build confidence,
- increase productivity,
- contribute to the organisations’ overall success plan,
- decrease staff turnover. (The lack of proper training is one of the top 5 reasons employees tend to leave),
- help meet team goals.
So how do you create this paradise of learning? For a learning culture to develop and grow we need a few key ingredients.
Top Level Leadership Needs To Set An Example
Since culture is such an inanimate thing, it requires living examples to make it visible and understood. Hence the leadership at the top showing their willingness and ability to learn will bring it to life. People see what it means and how to go about contributing to this culture. Defining this at the point of entry or onboarding supports the culture. Leadership have the most impact at this stage and becomes the living breathing example of a learning culture.
Learning is not just in the classroom
Learning comes from conversations, interactions and experiences. Brainstorming is learning, but so is a disagreement or argument, and so are mistakes. In every case, there is an important opportunity to learn by seeing the world from a new perspective. If we confine learning to a set time, a set place, we restrict these opportunities and dilute the power of lessons. With this willingness to learn comes the need for sharing. Feedback can be very powerful at these moments. Feedback is learning by seeing the issue from another point of view. However, this means having the ability for people to speak freely and that there is a no-blame culture.
A mix of live learning, on-demand learning, and just-in-time learning will all support these key moments. Therefore, having an organisation or cross-organisation network for learning becomes vital!
People need to take ownership of their learning
You cannot force someone to learn. A person needs to be willing to learn, and that means they need to take ownership of their learning. Learning is not what a company does “to” people. The company’s role is to support and enable people to learn. Of course, there are mandatory things people need to learn relating to their work within the company, and the company is responsible for ensuring these are available and people understand the importance of learning what is necessary. Even in these situations, the responsibility to learn and apply their learning is ultimately with the individual.