More and more companies are focusing on employing "highly curious" individuals as research by Bersin examined the issue of learning culture in great detail and found that companies who effectively nurture their workforce’s desire to learn are at least 30% more likely to be market leaders in their industries over an extended period of time.
Fundamentally, if you have an organisation of people who don't like learning and have a fixed mindset, your ability to be agile and gain a competitive advantage in your market is very low.
We have several clients who have invested heavily in learning during the recent lock down. Instead of putting their employees on furlough, they brought everyone together and relentlessly delivered virtual or online learning in order to best prepare to exit the lock down.
At Collingwood, we learnt from this and have started daily team learning. Research from Harvard has found that employees only have 24 minutes a week when they can invest in personal learning. With so many targets to achieve and customers to delight, we recognised that our team don't put themselves first and so we have forced the issue.
We have created a learning hour every day in which we listen to books, watch online training etc.. as a team, all aimed at filling our skills gaps and making us better at the jobs we do. We also believe it has enabled us to delight our clients even more and so its has become a win win for everyone!!
Harvard suggest the following 4 actions to help you create a learning culture;
1. Reward continuous learning
This should be a key part of a personal development plan. The days of expensive training courses have gone and employees should be expected and motivated to create their own learning journey. There are so many brilliant books, online webinars, online courses, podcasts etc... that can all be consumed during the work day without preventing the day job to be done.
2. Give meaningful and constructive feedback
Research suggests that too many leaders balance their employee conversations towards positive ones, however, learning comes by discussing skills gaps, poor performance etc.. and so negative ones. Unless employees are aware of their gaps how can they proactively learn to strengthen or fill them?
3. Lead by example
There is no point creating a learning culture if you, as a leader, are not going to lead by example. Employees watch your every move and if you are not bothered by learning, they are less likely to be!
4. Hire curious people
Employing people with a fixed mindset and no curiousity will make your learning culture impossible.
What you know is less relevant than what you may learn, and knowing the answer to questions is less critical than having the ability to ask the right questions in the first place. Unsurprisingly, employers such as Google, American Express, and Bridgewater Associates make learning an integral part of their talent management systems. As a Bersin report pointed out: “The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.”