Article: How to build a continuous learning culture

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How to build a continuous learning culture

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As companies re-examine their skills and learning agendas in the context of the pandemic-led disruption, here’s a useful way to think about building a culture of continuous learning in your company.
How to build a continuous learning culture

A study by the Korn Ferry Institute shows that 75 percent of the employees believe that their organization doesn’t have an aggressive learning culture. In every sector, there’s rapid digital change, pressuring organizations to think about how they can be successful in the present as well as in the future. So, there’s a need to think about the learning challenge at the individual level, team level,  and the organizational level. Research suggests that “Learning Agility, Innovation, and Customer   Input” top the business impact of a continuous learning culture. 

When we think about continuous learning, we’re talking about constant development of skills, and behaviors that are aligned with the organization’s   strategy. It is the connected, continuous nature of learning that can help the workforce become more responsive to change in the organization and the market.  

In practice, “It means employees have the access to the right resources, knowledge, network, learning strategies, feedback,” says Heide Abelli, customer market leader and general manager  at Skillsoft. “It also means there are the right   reward systems, rich opportunities for self-development, and support”. It doesn’t just stop at the individual level; it includes trans-personal and organizational learning. 

Having the right learning mindset is the base on which one can build a continuous learning culture. This means having an openness to see mistakes, willingness to take risks, and having a growth mindset. Apart from having the right mindset, there are three pillars that are essential to building learning agility:

1. Technology infrastructure: Do you have the right systems and platforms in place that is reflective of the current needs and experience of the employees?

2. Organizational support: Do you have the right processes and structures in place that can support the culture?

3. Data, measurement and metrics: Are there enough data sources that are being tracked that is meaningful for measuring the progress of the company’s journey?

On top of all of these focus areas is a manager’s support and behavior that’s essential to continuously improve throughout the journey.  Here are the right essential features of a continuous learning culture:

1. Big picture = Individual: There’s a need to align personal and organizational goals when it comes to learning. The learning roadmap also needs to be personalized to the needs of the employee.

2. Individuals are assigned tasks to practice learning: Learning doesn’t just stop at the stage of course review; employees need to be assigned tasks, projects, and assignments that can challenge their learning. 

3. Mistakes should be a feature of the learning process: Whether it is through experimentation or risk taking, there’s a need to ensure that employees can make mistakes through their learning journey. This psychological safety can accelerate and boost the learning process.

4. Make individuals accountable for learning and performance: While driving home the message that learning is important, it is essential to clearly state that learning equals success. Further, leaders need to take note of the application of learning and encourage their employees in the process.

5. Ensure that there are minimal constraints to learning: Whether a given task is unclear, or there are pressing workplace deadlines, there’s a need to ensure that learning is not hindered by workplace barriers.

6. Encourage new ideas: Employees need to feel like their contributions are valued and encouraged in the workplace. A special focus on new contributions will further boost experimentation and lead to new ideas coming to the surface.

7. Leadership support: When leaders make the time for learning and they’re able to provide support, it motivates employees to learn and also shows employees that they will be supported in the process.

8. Policies and practices: The effective use of training is supported by policies and practices that are geared at improving experimentation, risk taking and reducing any fear of learning. 

Building a continuous learning culture is not a one-time activity. There’s a need for continuous assessment, reflection and feedback to build workplace practices that are sustainable in the long run. While technology is a key enabler in the journey, companies that are able to link their learning strategy to growth opportunities are far more likely to sustain a continuous learning culture.

This article is curated from a Skillsoft webcast on the same topic. Watch the complete video here.

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Topics: Talent Management, Learning & Development, #GetSetLearn

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