Does Your Company Have a Learning Culture?

If there’s one thing the digital revolution has kicked off in earnest, it’s constant disruption. People need to keep up with constantly evolving opportunities and innovation.

Learning Cultures Can Create Market Leadership

As a result, learning cultures are important. Corporate learning cultures support constantly learning new methods, skills, and bodies of knowledge in support of the company’s business strategy, mission, and goals. A learning culture can drive improvement and foster innovation.

Does your company have one? Many companies, even those who state that they support learning cultures, actually don’t. According to a recent Harvard Business Review, only 10% of companies manage to actually create a learning culture.

Part of the reason learning cultures may not come to fruition may be their perceived drain on productivity. People in a learning stage are not likely to be at peak productivity. Middle managers whose goals are enforcing productivity may not be pleased about the demands of a learning culture.

One solution to this challenge is to comb the organization for examples where a learning culture worked. Communicate the examples and why they worked. This will give middle managers specific models to work toward.

Business leadership also needs to fully communicate the goals of becoming a learning culture. Among other definitions, learning cultures display an open mindset toward learning, independent learning, and shared learning.

To develop a learning culture, set up systems that drive knowledge and skills progression.

When learning cultures are successful, they can drive a company to success. Learning cultures are 30% more likely to be market leaders than cultures not devoted to learning.

So how can you create one? Read on.

  1. Set up formal rewards for continuous learning. The HBR points out that a rewards system will incentivize people and make it clear that the company really wants learning to take place. Formal rewards will be more effective than informal ones.
  2. Make constructive feedback part of the system. Set up a system that will give your employees incentive for more learning. If they need to learn more, tell them candidly. In addition, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests making knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) part of the feedback process, rather than solely key performance indicators (KPIs).
  3. Set examples from the top. Employees look up to see what behavior they should model. C-suite executives need to model continuous learning. Among the methods? Share favorite books read.
  4. Hire for continuous learning. It’s important to make your hiring conform to the demands of a learning culture. Hire people with a demonstrated history of curiosity, for example. Hire those who have demonstrated a thirst for continuous learning.
  5. Measure results. Measuring the results of a learning culture can be complicated. While it may spur a more innovative culture, it may not result in a specific product. The SHRM suggests measuring employee perception of learning and development.
  6. Continuously adapt. Use your measuring system to continually adapt as necessary. If some groups aren’t responding well to the existing system, or have meaningful suggestions, change and incorporate suggestions as necessary.
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