Talent professionals can be the gatekeepers of a great learning culture. When creating this culture, there are four absolutely essential components of the work that they need to do.
- A positive culture of learning is not owned nor created by one department or program. It lives in the collective efforts of all members of the community. You can have an amazing offering of learning opportunities with all the latest bells and whistles that technology can provide. However, if people feel that it's not safe to take risks and make mistakes, you cannot have a positive culture of learning. In this chapter, we'll look at the roles different groups play. I have created a handout in the exercise files to help you do this. Let's start with the talent professionals like HR and LND.
Obviously they're intimately involved in creating a positive culture of learning because the organizations learning strategy, and various offerings, are developed and sponsored by these groups. I want to focus on four absolutely essential components of the work that talent professionals need to do. First, you have to focus on two halves of the learning ecosystem. Both how we support people and improving and growing. And also creating an environment where it's okay to take risks and make mistakes. If you're not addressing both halves, you won't succeed.
All the sunlight in the world cannot fix toxic soil. This means that you need to continually track metrics that matter. Things like employee engagement, psychological safety, improvement and progress, and the attrition of your best people. And when you identify an area or team that's not thriving, you have to proactively intervene until things shift. If you don't, the whole thing is undermined. Second, you have to build the critical components of learning culture into your learning offerings, so that people are equipped to play their role in the collective effort.
For example, your management and leadership programs need to teach leaders how to cultivate growth mindset, create psychological safety, provide effective coaching, give and receive constructive feedback, and demonstrate emotional intelligence, like empathy. Programs for employees need these elements, along with information on how to empower their own development, both through their supervisor or team, and if necessary, around them. Your on-boarding needs to help new employees easily integrate into a positive culture of learning.
By introducing them to the values of continuous improvement, and the support and resources that are available to them. Third, you have to be an authentic example and model an ideal culture of learning. HR and LND are often called the keepers of the culture, and it's very true. The organization always reflects the health of the talent professional teams, always. I've seen this in every single organization I've ever worked with. When HR and LND are not thriving, the rest of the organization is held back.
And I'm not the only one. Dr. Brené Brown and Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott, both of whom are globally recognized experts, have mentioned similar observations. If these teams don't have a positive culture of learning, you'll see that cascade across the organization, because they produce so many aspects that drive the employee experience. This is a version of Conway's Law. Conway's Law originated in computer programming, or coding, and stated that the quality of the product reflects the quality of the team that builds it.
Harvard business review conducted a study of Conway's Law that proved this mirror effect in all kinds of organizations. For our purposes, the HR and LND teams need to be places where it's safe to take risks and make mistakes. Managers need to be great at coaching. And people need to frequently engage in learning. If these teams don't model a positive culture of learning, then it's very difficult to create it across the organization. If HR and LND are not in good shape, this needs to be your first priority.
They also need to work together, trusting each other and leveraging their unique perspectives and strengths to serve the rest of the organization. Finally, you systems and processes also need to align with the positive culture of learning. This is especially true for your performance management process. If you only measure performance by outcomes, you're missing something very vital. To cultivate a growth mindset, you also need to measure and value growth and improvement. I recommend that at least 30% of your evaluation reflects efforts spent on learning and improving.
This aspect needs to factor into how you give rewards, like raises and bonuses. This is the walk-your-talk component. If you truly want to create a positive culture of learning, it has to be valued, in consistent and visible ways, like reviews and rewards. Once you complete your assessment, use it to develop your action plan to start addressing issues and improving your organization today.
- Establishing a growth mindset
- Integrating learning into your organization
- Empowering through knowledge sharing
- Overcoming obstacles
- Addressing opportunities
- Measuring success