David Garvin, co-author of Is Yours a Learning Organization, said learning cultures are two things:
- Skilled in creating, acquiring, interpreting, transferring and retaining knowledge
- Able to modify behavior in response to new knowledge and insight
Payscale’s whitepaper, Creating a Culture of Learning discusses how a learning culture derives from a commitment to education – both in and outside of the workplace. Establishing a learning atmosphere will stimulate employees in the office, increase levels of engagement and decrease turnover. Jacob Morgan, co-founder of the FOW Community, said:
“Challenging convention is the practice of going against and challenging the common assumptions that our organizations have been built on. For the better part of a hundred years our organizations have remained relatively unchanged.”
Morgan goes on to say that the cubicles, outdated management styles, and communication hindrances go against everything our world has modernized into. The changes in technology and the way employees think about work has begun to change the way workplaces operate. Thus, learning cultures are beginning to emerge.
What exactly does a learning culture establish?
Continuous learning opportunities
Learning comes in all shapes and forms. Anything that challenges your employees to develop their skills further could be considered an opportunity for learning. More than just the traditional training styles and cultures of learning radiate into the workplace. They influence how employees function because they support continuing education. Ultimately, a learning organization will always bring in new and fresh knowledge. Executive professor of business administration at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, George Cook, addressed when a company pays for further education:
“ Education that is company-paid is important. A survey the Society for Human Resources Management shows 61% of companies asked still pay for employee undergraduate assistance, and 59% offer graduate assistance.”
Aligned individual and organizational performance
It is important to align company goals through the entire organization to each employee. It forces employees to be responsible for obtaining the information and skills needed to accomplish their goals. Leadership is therefore responsible for guiding their employees to see the correlations between their goals and the greater goals of the company. Principle of THEaster Consulting, Terri Hartwell Easter, says that misaligned priorities often get in the way of leadership development.
“In many cases, however, true integration of cultures has not been attempted – much less achieved – leaving shell-shocked employees, disparate teams, variances in management styles, lack of clarity in communication and a broken link between company goals and each individual’s role in achieving those goals.”
Safe atmosphere for open discussion
The inability to take risks at work for fear of consequence inhibits the growth of a learning culture. Give employees the opportunity to generate their own ideas and process them with the team. Creating a safe atmosphere of open discussion allows employees to grow in creativity through professional disagreements.
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It’s a team effort. As with any other major change to the functionality of an office, it takes a lot of people, and even more time. However, there are key members of your team that are necessary participants in the change.
It all begins with leaders. They have to initiate the change through attitude and atmosphere. Leaders are responsible for setting the company goals and creating a culture that aligns with said goals.
The HR team supports the culture of learning through recompense of any efforts employees may take towards higher certification or particularly outstanding performance. If and when employees and senior leaders move on or retire, the HR team can pass the information and culture to the next generation of employees.
Chief Learning Officers
CLOs can help align organizational and personal goals. By linking the two, training officers can also connect mentors and mentees on a professional level. Connecting like-minded individuals on the same projects will then help the chief learning officers to measure the success of the company’s training techniques.
Building a culture of learning isn’t an immediate fix… it doesn’t happen overnight. By understanding what exactly a culture of learning is, leaders, HR professionals and chief learning officers can work together to facilitate the growth of knowledge within the organization.
Call us to see how Cyber Train can help get your learning culture off to the right start.