Building a Learning Culture: 5 Steps To Build a Culture of Learning

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Building a Learning Culture: 5 Steps To Build a Culture of Learning

“Make your employees forget they’re learning. By creating an immersive environment that stimulates true learning and conditioning – one that accepts ‘failure’ as part of the learning process – employees will naturally be part of a learning culture.”

– John “Lex” Robinson, PhishMe

In our previous ‘Building a Learning Culture’ post, we defined what a learning culture is and explored some of the ways in which it can benefit your organisation, from increasing retention and maximising productivity to promoting innovation. Now that you understand why a learning culture is critical to future-proofing your business, it’s time to start looking at how you can grow your own.

Developing a learning culture takes persistence and dedication, and is not something that’s going to happen overnight. This is why we’ve broken it down into five simple, yet crucial steps to help get you started.

Stacks of books with people, mobile devices, and stationery on top

1. Make Your Leaders Your Role Models

In a learning organisation, everybody shares accountability for learning. But where should you start when trying to implement a shift in culture?

Begin by ensuring your business leaders set a good example. The social influence they exert as leaders can be significant and by continuously improving their own skills and demonstrating the positive outcomes, others are more likely to follow.

Susan Hallam MBE (of digital marketing agency Hallam) is a perfect example of how your business leaders can be key agents for change. As Managing Director, she believes it is essential that her team sees her “reading every day, experimenting with new ideas” and that she regularly shares what she is learning. As a result, demonstrable learning has become an essential requisite to career progression at Hallam – in other words, every employee sees learning as central to the culture.

As an L&D manager, you need to communicate the importance of creating a learning culture to your leaders and ensure they understand the role they play as influencers. After all, these are the people who define the overall goals and provide a vision of organisational success. Your leaders must act as role models, demonstrating continuous learning so that it underpins your culture and becomes the norm.

People working on laptops at desks that form giant letters spelling TEAM

2. Make Everyone a Part of a Shared Vision

Your leaders set the goals and vision for the business, but to cultivate a true culture of learning, you need to ensure that everybody in the organisation is aware of and working towards these same goals. Not only does this give employees a sense of direction, but it also allows people to see how their work contributes to organisational success.

And relevance is absolutely key. In our previous blog post, ‘Something to Shout About: 5 Things L&D Can Learn From Marketing’, we noted the importance of outlining from the start how learning and development will make employees’ jobs easier by teaching them skills relevant to their specific roles. By communicating the benefits of learning and adding real-life scenarios and success stories, learners will be able to see how learning – and, ultimately, their jobs – will directly affect the success of the business as a whole.

Large screen with Thinqi layout and employees talking in front of it

3. Encourage Open Communication

Does your organisation have an open, inquisitive culture? Do employees feel comfortable talking about upskilling, asking about resources and offering suggestions for improvement? Are people comfortable giving and receiving constructive criticism?

To foster a more open culture, encourage everyone to share ideas, identify problems and investigate root causes in order to resolve them. Encourage others to see failure not as a sign of defeat, but to instead recognise it as “a necessary by-product of experimentation”. By doing this, employees will be far more comfortable contributing and experimenting with innovative ideas.

There is a misconception that technology acts as a barrier to communication, but with the right tools, the opposite is true. Take our Thinqi blended learning ecosystem, for example – this can act as your go-to tool for enabling easy collaboration in your workplace. By providing discussion spaces, it incorporates everyday conversation and shared learning in one easy-to-use and accessible online platform. This is because much of the discussion that takes place is valuable learning material, curated by you and selected by the learner according to their own personal learning journey.

The result? Everybody in the business is communicating and learning..

Learners on desktop computers surrounded by books, lightbulbs and screens

4. Personalise the Learning

As an L&D manager, you already understand that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to learning fails to engage learners. By personalising the learning and enabling 24/7 access, learners are far more likely to commit.

According to Udemy, “giving employees the freedom to learn whatever they need, and letting them do it whenever and however they choose, can bring out their creativity…employees are more likely to experiment and innovate when relevant training is right at their fingertips,” which makes sense when you consider the changing expectations of the self-led modern learner. In fact, a study by Gallup shows that workers carry out up to five times more learning on their own than from their employers each week. Anything that gives learners more freedom to follow their own learning pathways and encourages them to think more creatively is naturally going to make them more engaged – with the result that your learning culture is so much stronger.

And this is exactly why we’ve designed Thinqi to facilitate curation and personalised learning.

People surrounding giant book and reading or using devices

5. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” – Elon Musk

Learning can be hard to measure, however digital body language can provide a key indication of how effective it is as well as how engaged your learners are. Imagine you are using a learning platform and want to know how many people have completed a particular online assignment. You also want to know the success and failure rates of this assignment. Detailed behaviour data such as success and failure rates, login frequency and time spent on assignments and resources are all valuable indications of what’s working and what’s not when trying to establish your learning culture.

Analytics tools are key to your evaluative process. These allow you to identify the content and resources that learners are engaging with the most, at what times they are most accessed and on which devices. Without stopping to evaluate your campaigns and strategies, you are simply guessing blindly when you could instead be using this data to inform your decision-making and design processes.

Some of the most forward-thinking organisations implement ‘360 degree feedback’ surveys in which people collect feedback from a range of different sources – including peers and more senior members of staff – in order to evaluate progress. Reflection can also be made a team effort with different members of staff all coming together at the start and end of the project. Make shared feedback a standard process. After all, in a learning culture, many heads are better than one.

In Summary…

Research by Bersin & Associates shows that organisations with a strong learning culture significantly outperform their peers. Could your organisation benefit from a 37% increase in employee productivity? What about a 58% increased likelihood of having the skills to meet future demand?

By encouraging innovation and creativity, making the most of the right technology and encouraging everyone within the organisation to continually think outside the box, your organisation will benefit from the strong learning culture that will not only help it survive in a competitive business environment, but to lead the way in terms of performance, engagement, and overall employee satisfaction.

If you would like to learn more about how our cutting-edge blended learning ecosystem can help you foster a thriving culture of learning, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re always exploring key trends in the learning and development world, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when new insights are published:

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Steve Finch is Head of Marketing and Brand Ambassador for Thinqi, the modern learning system. With a background in customer success and digital learning programme delivery, Steve has been helping organisations deliver effective modern learning for nearly 20 years.