Because of the rate at which new technologies and processes develop, it is easy for a business to stagnate and become set in its ways. This can be problematic if it has aspirations to or wants to continue to be a leader within its industry. Article by Lyndon Wingrove is Director of Capabilities and Consulting at Thales L&D.
It is important, therefore, to build a learning culture that ensures employees and teams throughout the business are invested in its future, and are willing and able to develop themselves and their skills to meet changing needs and achieve new goals. In addition, a learning culture will mean reduced costs, reduced employee turnover, more coherent succession planning and greater levels of productivity and efficiency.
How can you build a learning culture into a company that may never have worked or operated in that way, though? If an organisation has been perfectly happy operating in a certain way, it’s difficult to ask them to change the way they do things, and they may struggle even if they want to change. However, the benefits are significant and it is well worth exploring how a learning culture can gradually be introduced to help improve individual team members and the company as a whole.
Mistakes are not particularly desirable at any time but, if they allow the person who committed them to learn from them and ensure that they do not occur again, they are worth making. David Ogilvy, the advertising legend, was a great believer in this theory, and would sometimes allow ads to run that he did not believe would work, just to see if he was correct. As long as no blame is attributed to anyone, this is a very effective method of furthering the skills and experience of a team.
There is no better way of making people feel as though the company is invested in their skills and career than literally by investing in them via training and development courses. Offering them the opportunity to attend formal training courses (even if they have to attend during work hours) will ensure greater productivity and job effectiveness levels upon their return, and may kickstart a previously dormant desire to learn and develop.
If a team member achieves something in a way that makes use of the training they have received, that should be highlighted and rewarded as a means of encouraging others to learn through demonstrating what is possible when you do. The more that learning and development is seen as a positive thing, the easier it will be to develop and integrate a learning culture into the business.
It is important that no one party or department has ownership of the learning process or general learning environment because it does not foster a collaborative approach or feel. This is important if a learning culture is to be successfully implemented. Teams should never feel as though they are being forced to learn, they should want to do it for themselves – this is encouragement, not coercion.