Does your organization have a learning culture? Are you contemplating in establishing a process? Or you are one of those leaders who perform lip service to learning culture and eventually want employees to do same things without breaking the ladder.
If these are some of your concerns, you need to create an environment and nurture the mindset to produce curious information seekers.
According to Association for Talent Development study, organizations spend more than $160 billion annually on learning and development of employees.
As per the report, the per-employee spending increased in 2015 to an average of $1,252 per employee (from $1,229 in 2014). Do you feel that your investments has reaped results or the picture is still illusionary.
The research conducted by Josh Bersin, an expert global HR analyst states that, companies who inculcate a learning culture and promote open mindset for employees are at least 30% more likely to be market leaders in their industries over an extended period of time.
In this article, I will share some real life solutions that can help you re-evaluate your current stance on learning and development.
1. Develop A Personal Relationship
One of the main reasons, employees quit jobs is because of poor relationship with their managers. You can feel this vibe when you come across such stories. You should create an agenda to train and coach managers to handle subordinates with empathy and friendliness.
Do not take things for granted. I have seen workplaces can become hostile. Bloated ego among peers kills products. You need to nurture your team members as you would do for your family.
Once you have developed a relationship, teams will unite and reduce internal conflicts. More you know about their demeanor, likes and preferences, you can adjust, that in turn will create a healthy and positive environment.
You must create a managers training program to increase employee engagement and retention. It should top the list of L&D goals for your company.
2. Practice Then Preach
At Invimatic, the leaders take charge and prove the point. Our CTO, loves exploring new technologies and solving bugs for our software developers.
Every week, he will sit with a developer for an hour to understand his/her working pattern. When they are stuck, he will show them the process to debug, writing clean code and refactoring.
Though such task can be done by your lead engineer or a web search may help, but, the impact of employees working closely with founders gives a high five feeling.
He has been an engineer throughout his life and still spends 2-3 hours in front of the machine writing programs. This is one example of leading by action.
I convinced him to take up the work as that will create a strong signal among team members. You should set by example.
For example, if you are learning a new programming language or a skill outside your comfort zone, your action and curiosity will help you get better and inspire others.
I have seen actions and behavior of senior leaders have greater impact on the business outcome. If you want to create a strong learning culture, practice what you preach. Do something that interests your area and inspire employees to challenge the status quo.
3. Create a Learning Environment
Do you spend time with employees or team managers focusing on evaluating knowledge gaps and support for acquiring new skills?
You must create an environment where workplace becomes a knowledge sharing hub. Most importantly, I have seen when constructed learning is embedded to daily work, it improves productivity and outcomes.
In one of my friends company, they have a bimonthly session on doing a software project together from start for end. The tech teams participate and figure out a new technology trend that can help them stay updated and improve company’s credentials.
If you are a leader, you must look into the situation seriously. Does your employees have a practice lab to learn new technologies? Can they experiment and fall without fear?
Do your team members ask each other for help or spend a weekend together learning a new thing? It is important that your employees feel safe to challenge their skills and given time to experiment.
Unless, you have learning at all levels in place, you will have a tough time creating a learning environment.
4. Learning by Doing
I have seen organizations create a great platform, but fail short of creating conditions to put learning to practice. 70% percent of learning happens with practice and application.
You can understand the importance of application and relevant content for the growth of your employees. If you only give them access to online courses and tutorials to learn, how will you measure the outcome. You must promote activities that inculcate learning.
For example, you can create a platform to build a product or link side projects completed to performance. Those projects done under supervision, will motivate them and they can bring fresh air to workplace everyday.
5. Hire Curious Minds Who Love Teaching
You can observe the trait of employees when they join your team, is h/she a leader, teacher or individual contributor? It is an hiring trait often missed by human resource team.
Due to poor approach to L&D programs, employees do not feel like participating. You should not create such programs for rewards or performance appraisal cycle. Instead, hire minds who leave teaching.
You can see the value they will bring to the table. Hiring passionate minds creates a positive vibe. Involved and focused employees will motivate and generate interest among peers.
If your employee is actively contributing to helping peers, give him/her a responsibility to take short training programs or in case of IT environment, a senior developer helping juniors in reviewing code and helping them break problems.
An employee in love with his work, will share among others. They will not look into things with critical eye, instead explain complex tasks in an easy manner.When sharing becomes a culture, you will see the productivity and outcome northwards.
6. Establish Advancement Opportunities
Yelp, a local search service provider uses learning and advancement initiatives to increase retention. Their senior executives train hundreds of junior accountants to make them job ready.
The company lays strong efforts on learning and personal growth of employees for best results. You must promote employees based on defined parameters and contributions done for the company or process.
You should not have advancement grades based on tenure, but on the engagement and value employees give back to the company. For that, you need to establish a model to promote employees internally, rather than hiring externally.
Your goal is to empower employees and promote continual personal development. Once your employees speaks your vision, you will see the change in culture.
7. No to Complacency Mode
One of the reasons employees resist change is complacency. This is hazardous for your company’s health. You need to develop processes that address obstacles to proactive learning.
You need to have smart managers who gauge employees not getting to pilot mode. Learning a new tool or taking up a weekend course for reskilling should be high on the agenda for L&D team.
You will become risk averse if you fear from taking risks or learning new things. In my previous company,
I saw a line manager struggling to pick up with a project management tool that we introduced. I understand, we all learn at different pace. But, the approach was questionable. Eventually, asking subordinates to perform tasks and bragging about “how easy it was” will lead you to doldrums.
When your employees wear a copy mode, it is an unhealthy practice. Your company must create a culture for leaders and managers to learn, unlearn and relearn policy to stay current and get ahead.
8. Focus on Building Teams
As a leader, your focus should be on building teams, rather individual performance. Give team assignments to foster relationship. You must focus on rewarding and recognizing teams. It will help boost morale of your employees. You will find that people contribute more in a supportive environment.
9. Take Anonymous Surveys
If you believe in taking anonymous feedback from employees, more voices will be raised. You should take that in a positive way. Gather the data gleaned from surveys about the quality of learning programs and manager behavior. You will be able to gauge the cause and effect.
This exercise will help you the pulse of the organization. You can improve your processes and redefine metrics of performance. Do not consider yourself as a male lion for your business. You should have empathetic nature.
I have seen employees look upto leaders. Let your good habits rub of on your peers and subordinates.
You can understand that creating a learning culture can be a challenging task. You can definitely start by implementing one or two strategies suggested. Evaluate it within your team.
Building a culture is a team effort and you need to constantly adjust and churn your belief system. Your actions will have an immediate impact on people who are working hard to make your business successful.
Invimatic Solutions is an outsource software development service provider from India. The four pillars of a succesful company- discipline, innovation, accountability and delivery. We follow it from the heart.