Today’s workforce wants to learn, develop and grow. With 82% of L&D professionals saying “that their executives actively support employee engagement in professional learning,” now’s the time to work toward growing a learning culture in your organization. As companies continue to move forward in developing learning environments, there are key elements to consider to ensure learning is a part of everyday business, not a side product or nice-to-have activity.
Leaders can no longer ignore the data demonstrating the results of providing growth and development opportunities in the workplace, including improvements in employee engagement. However, some are still struggling when it comes to connecting people and business outcomes. Many businesses try to fit their employees’ development into a box, instead of integrating the process of development throughout the business. You can change this reality, starting with the following three areas.
1. Build an Internal Coaching Program
Gone are the days of employees’ expecting direction on how to accomplish their jobs. Today’s workforce wants to figure out the “how” to the “what” they’ve been asked to do. They are looking for leaders who ask questions instead of just giving answers. An internal coaching program can help both leaders and their teams understand how to build the process of questioning into the culture.
In his book “Humble Inquiry,” Edgar Schein describes how leaders can build relationships based on curiosity and interest in other people; leaders can learn from the people they are leading by asking questions with intent to listen and learn something new. Coaching involves asking and guiding rather than versus telling and directing, and when cultures include an internal coaching program, it opens the doors for everyone to learn simply by being open.
2. Ensure Development Is a Focused Priority
For employees to grow and develop, they have to have time to do so. Help them practice the habit of blocking time for development on their calendar, just like they do for meetings. They should have time to focus on their development plan, which may include research and reading, attending an online or in-person training, or time for personal reflection on how their plan is moving forward.
Employees could also use this development time to work with a coach. If your organization is using internal coaching, make sure there is time for employees to take advantage of this resource. I once worked in an organization that wanted employees to develop but didn’t have a way to budget time for development. As a result, it actually hurt leaders’ budgets when their employees went to a class or scheduled time with a coach. Ensure your organization has the proper measures in place to encourage employees to take time for their development.
3. Let Everyone Be the Driving Force
Growth cultures don’t assign ownership of learning to a group. Implement learning councils, where employees can actively be a part of creating and delivering different types of learning content. Teach them how to develop materials in different ways, but let them be the ones in the classroom or online, delivering the content. The leaders who are knocking their metrics out of the park would probably like to be a guiding force in the classroom with their peers, discussing their success. Open the door for this type of learning to occur, and everyone will be part your organization’s becoming a learning culture.
Modern employees are realizing that their choice of where to work is an investment, and companies are realizing that they must become a place where people want to work, not a place where people need to work. Environment and experience have become key differentiators for employers, making learning a culture must-have instead of nice-to-have. Follow these tips, and be the organization that goes all in on creating a learning culture.