Learning is a continuous process and never ends!! Individuals need to make a lifelong commitment to explore new horizons by dedicating time and by having a strong focus. However, at an organizational level the managers need to maintain a good learning culture so as to maintain their top talents and retain their customers. Failing to do so will ultimately lead to loss of their best employees, loss of customer faith and failure in the competition. There are various techniques through which an organization can promote a positive learning culture to enhance the success of organization as well as the employees. Here we will be discussing 5 of those tips that involves the contribution of everyone in the organization ranging from employees to the managers.
1. Make learning an everyday habit
Many of us have a common perception that once we leave the schools and get our degrees, we need not continue pursuing other learnings. That’s a very wrong thinking as we no longer live in a world where we can assume that learning is fixed for one’s trade. There are continuous innovations in every field changing the way we do our daily works. Continuous learning can help an individual to stay sharp, relevant in his or her field as well as stay ahead in the competition. Also, building this learning attitude is not a difficult or time-consuming task.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or at 80. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. — Henry Ford
As for the organizations, many of them have kept learning an optional activity. Many of them might not know how to impart the best learnings to their employees. A great learning organization is one that invests in new patterns of thinking and learnings. The leaders or managers in these companies need to act as a role model for learning. As learning from others is a contagious process, it becomes important for the bosses to lead as an example. These bosses can act as champions for learnings. They should help their peers as well as their team-mates to understand their success and failures, and take the failures as a source of new learning. To have a good learning, leaders must examine thoroughly the process that lead to both success and failure and ensure that others too do the same.
2. Reward Employees for Learning
The employee learning and growth are an important part of any organization’s business strategy. However, to fully utilize the benefits of trained employees, the first challenge is to make these employees open to learning and growth in the workplace. The managers need to make sure that their employees are motivated to learn. If not, the trainings can be overwhelming and inconvenient for all the members involved. A common question faced by many managers engaged with training employees is that “When will they get their job completed when they spend too much time in training?”. This problem is quite common in organizations, where different types of trainings are involved and the biggest challenge in these companies is not about designing a training program but making the employees take advantage of the trainings provided.
Rewarding employees for accepting a positive learning culture can be one of the methods to encourage the staff to develop and grow. However, there is no guarantee that rewards can bring in change unless these are effective. Some of the ideas for creating training rewards for employees includes demonstrating the value of training to the employees, creating opportunities like representing the organization in a conference after completion of course, bringing a healthy competition among the peers taking the training, creating reward system for those training that bring in maximum ROI for the organization as well as employees and finally rewarding the employees who completed the course on a public stage to motivate other employees as well.
3. Train the Managers to coach effectively
Coaching is one of the greatest methods to build an employee’s confidence level as well as competence. Managers need to know how to apply the right blend of “clarity coaching” and “skills coaching” to their employees, two of the critical elements that organizations need to provide to their managers while training them. Having the ability to coach others is one of the core skills in the 21st century, required by every manager to be regarded as a successful leader. Long gone are those days where the managers used to command and control leadership in order to get their work done. Today, the most effective way for the managers to lead is through coaching and collaboration. If the managers are not skilled enough to coach their employees, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to achieve positive results for the organization or even themselves in the long term.
4. Celebrate Mistakes at Work
Failure often paves the way to new and exiting opportunities, which would have otherwise not appeared. Closing our eyes to these kinds of failures can mean missing out on these opportunities. In order to have a positive learning culture, the organization should involve curiosity, exploration, risks and accept mistakes in its learning process.
Story to relate:
A CEO in an organization was told by a frightened employee that their e-commerce website was down. It was indeed a big issue as the company relied heavily on its website for the online sales, and any downtime costed them thousands of dollars in lost sales.
The CEO checked with the employee on what had happened. The employee told him that George from the IT team had mishandled a system backup, which led to this problem. The CEO said “Well then, lets go and meet George!”.
As the CEO walked into the IT department, everyone goes silent. They kind of had an intuition of what was going to happen and were sure that the CEO was going to get really angry.
However, things didn’t happen as expected.
The CEO went up to George’s desk and asked “Are you George?”
“Yes Sir” he said almost inaudible.
To everyone’s surprise the CEO said, “George! I want to thank you for finding the loophole in our system. Because of this, we can now learn and fix this issue, so that something like this won’t happen in future. Great Work!!”
As the CEO left, everyone in the IT department including George were visibly baffled. Also, that mistake never happened again in the company.
Mistakes are a great source of learning in any organization and the leaders should sometimes allow it to happen in select situations in order to challenge the deeply held assumptions by the employees. If the company organizes ceremonies to give performance awards, they should also celebrate few of the instances where though the results were disappointing, the subsequent process that followed were robust and error free.
5. Give meaningful & constructive feedback
Feedback is one of the most vital elements for a positive learning culture in any organization. As a manager or a great leader, one has to give continuous feedback to their employees in order to let them know how they are performing in their work as well as the organization’s expectations from them. Giving a meaningful feedback (positive or negative) can help the employees in having a positive impact on their productivity, performance as well as behavior.
A constructive feedback is a kind of supportive feedback that helps the employees to identify their areas of weakness and means to address specific issues or concerns. A constructive feedback should be specific, sincere, well prepared, and gender neutral. Also, feedback should not just be unidirectional but instead should be a two-way interaction. The managers should also allow the employees to give feedback about them.
In conclusion, efforts should be put by the organization to increase interest in learning by the employees as well as bring a positive learning culture. Regardless of the format and delivery of the trainings, all training is important to the success of an employee achieving their individual goals and the organization achieving their strategic objectives.
Let us know if you agree with the above mentioned tips or if you have other tips to promote positive learning culture in your organization.