How to Build a Learning Culture With a Growth Mindset

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Many organizations are confident that they’re successfully delivering a learning culture. After all, they have the tools and content readily available to them and their learners. Their L&D teams have developed and delivered high-impact learning programs in a variety of engaging modalities. Perhaps they’re leveraging cutting edge technologies like virtual reality, AR and even meta-verse learning to promote a culture of continuous learning. But does this guarantee that employees feel empowered to build their skills and talent? If you take a look at this MIT Sloan article, you’ll see an outline of the key features that truly define a learning culture, and you’ll discover the questions that L&D professionals are asking themselves ahead of 2022. A learning culture is more than just making content available. It’s about developing the right mindset.

Over the past 20 years, L&D has made many strides in modernizing, digitizing and evolving traditional L&D strategies to embrace and promote a learning culture within their companies. Now that we’re shifting to hybrid work and learning, L&D professionals are reexamining what it means to have a learning culture and whether they’re truly achieving it post-pandemic. In this article, we explore what learning culture means in today’s hybrid workplace, and we challenge you to examine your own organizations for signals that your learning culture is achieving maximum success.

The right mindset: Adaptive, growth and learning culture

Many L&D professionals are concerned that their culture of learning is, in fact, simply a continuation of  legacy learning, but with a sophisticated technology outfit. To truly drive change within an organization, it’s important to take stock of your learning strategy and ask yourself the tough questions. Does your learning culture promote employees to proactively seek out learning opportunities when faced with unfamiliar tasks or challenged to develop innovative solutions? Are they eager to take risks and ownership over their professional and personal development? Are they engaging in experimentation and rapid learning?

What does an ideal learning culture look like to you? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, a learning culture is “a community of workers instilled with a growth mindset.” As the above MIT article suggests, having a learning mindset and learning culture are, in effect, part of an adaptive culture, which is a culture that is able to respond rapidly and effectively to large-scale changes. For example, our response to Covid-19; our quick shifts from in-person work to remote work; our shift from ILT to vILT; and our global pivot toward digital transformation. 

Empowered employees are those with a growth mindset

When we say “growth mindset,” we’re describing how employees deal with change. Evidence shows that when an entire company embraces a growth mindset, employees report feeling far more empowered and committed. When employees receive organizational support for collaboration and innovation, they are better prepared to help an organization adapt.

Having a growth mindset means employees don’t consider their skills and abilities fixed. Instead, they are able to be improved through work and training. It is entirely possible for leadership in a company to value L&D and to make resources available, even encourage employees to make use of them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a learning culture is in place. Employees might still struggle to employ a growth mindset. This is why having an end-of-year review and audit of your current learning culture is essential to gauge the level of growth mindset your employees are demonstrating.

Let’s quickly summarize what it means to have a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, the foremost researcher in this field defines the differences between fixed and growth mindset:

Characteristics of a fixed mindset

  • Employees believe their talents are innate gifts
    • For example, a manager may believe that their interpersonal, communication, collaboration and leadership skills are simply “who they are” and not skills that can be enhanced with further training. Post-pandemic, many leaders have identified some gaping skills gaps in their people managers due to the shift toward managing remote teams.
  • Employees worry more about looking smart and appearing competent
    • For example, a sales representative who follows standard sales techniques rather than questioning the efficacy of these techniques. This is especially true when due to social distancing restrictions, many conversations and negotiations need to be primarily on email, text and online networking tools.

Characteristics of a growth mindset

  • Employees believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies.
  • Employees believe in the value of collaboration and thrive with the input from others (peers, leaders, coaches, etc.).
  • They can achieve more and bring innovation to their work because they put more energy into learning than simply appearing competent.

Developing an employee engagement framework

Culture change is hard but necessary. Developing an effective learning culture for 2022 begins by establishing your change plan and learning strategy to create momentum throughout the year. A good place to start is by designing an employee engagement framework to better assess the growth mindset currently in place within your organization.

As a learning consultant, CoreAxis listens to the concerns and questions of our learning partners to better understand the key goals they are facing in a post-pandemic environment. Our goal for 2022 is to empower organizations to develop the learning and business strategies that will truly support continuous learning practices and drive a learning culture within their organization. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build your employee engagement framework to kick start your 2022 learning programs.

About CoreAxis

CoreAxis is a business performance consulting company that offers training solutions to businesses in a variety of industries, such as financial, life sciences, retail and technology. Each of these solutions can be fully customized to meet the needs of the individual client. We build collaborative relationships, becoming a trusted resource and ensuring our clients’ organizational success.

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