CREATING A CULTURE OF LEARNING
While some professionals are working on new degrees and certifications, many of us―who are long past our cap and gown days―may not consider ourselves students anymore. In reality, we’re learning all the time: reading articles, talking to colleagues, retweeting, leaving comments, listening to podcasts…the amount of information we absorb is incredible. How can your organization create a culture of learning to grow employees and meet your mission?
STEP 1: INVEST
Identify the current and potential subject matter expertise that is brewing in your workplace. Survey employees and find out more about the business topics that interest them, regardless of their role in the organization. Match up the experts with the novices in peer learning groups. Depending on your workforce’s needs, bring in industry professionals to offer their perspectives.
STEP 2: ENABLE
Provide employees an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge to colleagues in formal and informal meetings.
- When someone returns from a conference or seminar, invite him or her to share at the next staff meeting
- Encourage peer learning groups to share their activities on the organization’s intranet or at a brown bag lunch session
- Schedule brainstorms and cross-team discussions about news and trends that are relevant to your organization
The possibilities are endless. But the important message you’re sending to your staff is that you value their intelligence and trust them to use learning time wisely.
STEP 3: ENGAGE
Enlist your team’s thought leaders (not necessarily managers) to develop live learning sessions, reference guides, and briefings that are useful to conducting your business. Often, organizations fail to keep employees involved in ongoing learning activities after initial orientation. For example, educating employees on the rationale behind the organization’s mission, vision and annual goals offers a greater ongoing benefit than simply posting those ideals in your marketing materials.
So how does a culture of learning impact mission achievement? It may not be immediately evident in dollars and cents. But creating a safe space for idea sharing will allow employees to develop the confidence to communicate, innovate and collaborate with each other, with customers, with colleagues at other agencies, and with the industry at-large.