We tend to think of training as being designed for new hires or junior-level employees — people who don’t yet know the job.
But learning doesn’t stop. Employees rise through the ranks, take on new responsibilities and need consistent guidance along the way.
Continuous learning is for everyone — and this is particularly important for managers to understand.
Managers Must Stay Curious
Some managers rest on their laurels, feeling as though they don’t need to constantly improve. But that sort of thinking can lead to disastrous results for your company and professional life.
Continuous learning keeps you accountable. With that in mind, here are five ways managers can stay curious.
5 Ways Managers Can Instill a Culture of Continuous Learning
If you’re the leader of a group or functional team in a business, you need to take the initiative to instill a culture of continuous learning. And that means taking the time to learn new skills, attend webinars and gain new certifications to expand your skillset. Here’s how.
1. Learn in Small Chunks
Learning doesn’t have to be a time-suck. You don’t need to travel to conferences, attend hours-long webinars or complete time-consuming courses in the evening to show your employees that learning is important.
Being a continuous learner can be as simple as reading an article or blog post once a week or listening to a seminar while you eat your lunch. There’s always opportunity to take advantage of your down time.
2. Share Opportunities With Your Team
Once you start taking advantage of that time, share it with your team!
One helpful method is creating a group message or channel on a workplace messaging platform for learning initiatives. Share interesting articles you found, webinars you plan to attend or useful certifications you think your team will benefit from.
If they see their manager making time to improve, they’ll take the time to improve as well.
3. Keep Learning Positive
Make learning opportunities a focus of weekly check-ins with your direct reports as well. Help them to make time for each opportunity and offer support where you can. This will give them a sense of confidence around what they need to do and keep the experience positive.
Avoid framing a learning opportunity as a way to fill a skill gap. This is a negative approach that can discourage people. It puts the focus on what your employees lack instead of what they can gain. Be positive, and you’ll see positive results.
4. Stay Employee-focused
Continuous learning offers many benefits for a company. But what matters most is your employees.
Let’s face it: You might not work with your company for the rest of your life, and your employees probably won’t work for you for the rest of their lives. So don’t limit their skills. Help them reach professional goals even if they benefit the employee more than the company.
This kind of healthy dynamic helps bolster your company’s reputation and recruitment brand.
5. Be Wary of Complacency
Don’t forget that all these efforts can be undone if you or your people get complacent. If you aren’t interested in improving anymore, your team will mirror that behavior — and your C-suite will notice. This may cause them to lose confidence in your leadership.
Successful businesses aren’t run by “experts” with nothing left to learn. They’re run by curious learners, always looking to improve.
Learning and development doesn’t stop when you get your manager title. In fact, it only becomes more important and impactful. You set the tone for your team, and when you show that you are always trying to learn and improve, that effect trickles down.
Creating a structured focus on learning benefits everyone. It not only helps you and your team gain skills and qualifications, but it also makes you more marketable as a professional. Most critically, it’s what makes company growth possible, helping you and your team deliver better results and creating a culture that attracts passionate candidates.