There are many benefits to creating a learning culture in your organization, a culture that fosters curiosity and healthy risk-taking. In a true learning culture, workers value a growth mindset and a shared mission. Everyone is inclined to learn and expand upon their skills and to share their knowledge with others generously.
Companies with strong learning cultures typically outperform those without. Especially in this ever-shifting business landscape, companies who employ nimble learners, creative problem solvers and workers with high emotional intelligence will be the companies who thrive. A strong learning culture will not only attract top talent who embody those traits, but also cultivate and maximize their potential as well. In a recent article, we examined the benefits of building a culture around learning, and today we’ll look at how to go about doing so.
Step 1: Understand common learning deterrents. We all have egos, fear and an innate inclination toward complacency that can stifle our ability to learn. Understanding that everyone is in some way resistant to anything that makes us look uninformed, that we have a fear of embarrassment and failure and that we all tend to snap back into the familiar and routine instead of embracing new challenges and ideas is the first step in circumnavigating these roadblocks. It’s human nature and when we accept it, we can design systems and programs that address and overcome them.
Step 2: Start with leadership. It’s one thing to say your organization values learning, curiosity and risk-taking. It’s another thing entirely for your employees to see those values modeled in your behavior. For a learning culture to truly thrive, executives and managers must lead the charge. They must lead by example and help their employees understand that it’s not about having all of the answers, but rather about learning, creative problem solving, collaboration, growth and critical thinking.
Step 3: Recruit intelligently. Candidates must be evaluated by their penchant for learning. Asking behavioral questions about risk aversion, welcoming challenges and creative problem solving is a good place to start. You’ll want to bring employees on board who are naturally inclined to figure things out creatively, and who are open to risks, change and growth.
Step 4: Encourage openness and engagement. No one should be afraid to debate, ask questions, challenge assumptions and discuss ideas. Create an environment where people can challenge norms without fear of retribution. Tough questioning should be encouraged.
Step 5: Celebrate risk-taking and failure. Your company should support employees in taking acceptable risks, even if they fail. In fact, celebrating failure will embolden others to take risks and fail intelligently as well. When failure is a good thing, it shifts the mindset around going out on a limb or following gut instincts. You can’t comfortably innovate and learn without the possibility of failure. Embracing it grants your employees the space and freedom to grow.
Step 6: Build teams and keep them small. Rewarding teamwork and collaboration versus individual performance will foster a sense of camaraderie versus a sense of competition. Larger teams tend to become more complex and formal, reducing a sense of intimacy and open, fluid interaction, which can stifle creative thinking and growth.
A huge driver of business impact is the strength of a company’s learning culture. And as the world continues to evolve, as jobs are disappearing due to technology and automations, companies who create strong learning cultures will find themselves full of employees who can think quickly, overcome challenges and, most importantly, grow and adapt. The companies that can learn fast and adapt, are the companies who will perform best in the long run.
If you’re interested in building a culture around learning in your organization, we can help. Contact us today to learn how a tailored strategy could engage your team and drive results for your business.