How to Develop a Learning Culture

We all know that lifelong learning is now something that needs to be the norm if we are to remain current, or even to advance, in our careers. The challenge however for HR Professionals globally is how to build a learning culture that not only talks about lifelong learning but instills this across all levels of the business.

Although all organizations a different, there are some activities that all organizations can undertake that can start to build a learning culture.

Promote learning as lifelong

One of the greatest struggles for engagement in learning starts from not understanding why we need to learn. All of the future assessment promotes the importance of lifelong learning, but what do I have to learn throughout life to achieve this. Promote life-long learning as something that is not only important but enjoyable and beneficial.

Increase individual self-awareness

By starting with providing all your employees an opportunity to increase their own self-awareness, you allow them a chance to understand what they need for their own growth. You can achieve this through tools such as Schein’s career anchors, a skills development assessment, or providing a coach before any annual development planning.

Talk about personal learning strategies

By promoting a standard, all of business learning strategy without promoting personal learning strategies, you may not achieve engagement in learning. Analogies of the 70-20-10 learning approach could benefit your business but need to be promoted as to the benefit of the individual, not the business. Learning needs to be individualized as all of your employees need to be supported to learn in a style that suits their personal and professional needs. Promoting your learning strategies as a personal learning strategy can assist in achieving this.

Keep the conversation alive

The occasional poster will not assist in driving a positive learning culture but finding ways to keep the conversation active overall business channels can assist in keeping the conversation alive. Look at how learning can become part of each internal marketing activity and how you can effectively utilize business forums, online social networks, email communications or promotions and competitions to keep the conversation alive.

So what do you need to stay clear of? Here are a few things to try to avoid when building a learning culture:

Don’t make the conversation part of annual performance planning

By only promoting career development as a conversation that happens once a year, you are making it appear unimportant. A good learning culture can plan to learn annually, but discuss progress, analyze goals and reflect on successes a monthly conversation.

Educate your managers in career development

Many organizations do a great job in promoting the coaching conversation, but it is important to ensure your managers are educated in career development and the future world of work. The leaders across your business must be the advocates and champions to keep the conversation alive; this means they also need to demonstrate their team their approach to their own career development.

Don’t report on non-compliance

The greatest way to engage individuals is to promote success and celebrate the wins. You can achieve this by using a great story on team member learning each month in business communications. By communicating to others how learning is being achieved, not only will you be demonstrating commitment, but you will be providing evidence of how learning is supported across the whole of the business.

Learning for the future is important, actually, it is imperative. A learning culture will not be achieved overnight but through consistent effort, it will become part of the culture.

By Rebecca Fraser

Rebecca Fraser is a Leader of learning and development for organisations and individuals. She is highly recognised for her contribution to the industry and for her work in the media providing information on modern day job search strategies. She is the author of ‘How to get a job in the 21st century’, her newest release on job search and resumes.