Employees are the core of a learning culture. Examining the three key ways that they contribute helps guide the creation of a holistic culture of learning.
- Employees also play a vital role in creating a positive culture of learning. This is something you can activate in them, but it's also something you can seek out during your recruiting and hiring process. I recommend doing both. There are three key ways that employees contribute to a culture of learning. First, they're willing to learn by taking advantage of opportunities to grow and improve. This includes using the learning resources available to them as well as seeking out others on their own. They'll put in the time to practice, and get better.
You can empower this behavior by making your learning offerings easy to find and access. Start at onboarding, and constantly market them so that employees have no doubt where to go for learning. Offer a range of formal and informal opportunities, and curate additional elements like articles, TED talks, conferences, certifications, and other trusted resources. Second, they take responsibility for their own professional and career development. They show initiative by seeking feedback, requesting coaching or mentoring, and developing the skills they need for the next level role.
You'll want to enable this by providing information on the skills and competencies needed by role level, and offering learning resources on feedback, coaching and mentoring, to both employees and managers. I also recommend creating an online professional development plan, so that employees can manage and track their progress. Ideally all of these things are also woven into your performance review process. Third, they support peers and colleagues in their learning. They'll show a willingness to share knowledge as well as provide meaningful and constructive feedback to their peers.
They'll actively contribute to an environment where it's safe to take risks and make mistakes, by encouraging others through setbacks. When I'm working with an organization on creating a positive culture of learning, I'll take teams through training that has four core components. One, an assessment that helps them understand and appreciate their strengths. My favorite is the Five Dynamics, but other good ones include DISC, and StrengthsFinder. Two, training on emotional intelligence, with a focus on self-control and empathy.
Three, an exploration of psychological safety and how to build it together. This includes how to give and receive constructive feedback, and have difficult conversations. And finally, tools for effective collaboration, and why it's different than cooperation and coordination. As you take these actions, you'll help your employees play their part, and developing from within is important as it contributes to employee engagement and morale. But you'll also want to make sure you're bringing in new talent that aligns with your vibrant culture of learning.
As you recruit and interview people look for those with a growth mindset, who already demonstrate a hunger for learning and willingness to grow. There should be evidence of this on their resume and online profile, in the form of courses, certifications, and conferences. See if they're a member of any professional associations, and if they've taken on any stretch projects. Does the trajectory of their career suggest that they took on new levels of responsibility and developed more advanced skills? You can also ask questions on your application and during interviews that will give you information about their commitment to learning, and their mindset.
Some great ones include, how often do you engage in learning? Share a recent example. What are some of the ways you stay on top of new developments in your field? How do you tend to your own professional development? Tell us about a skill you feel you've developed mastery or expertise in. How did you get to that level? Share a time you failed at something. What happened, and how did you move forward? Tell us about a time when you needed to give a peer or supervisor some feedback.
How did you approach it, and what were the results? Be sure similar questions are also part of your reference checks to see if the employee's self-perception matches those who worked with them. As you can see, employees play a critical role in the day to day activities that express a positive culture of learning. Make sure you're doing all that you can to help them thrive.
- Establishing a growth mindset
- Integrating learning into your organization
- Empowering through knowledge sharing
- Overcoming obstacles
- Addressing opportunities
- Measuring success