— February 15, 2018
One thing, above all else, sets organizations apart over the long term. It’s not the business strategy, it’s not people, it’s not leadership, it’s an organization’s ability to consistently learn.
We’re Living In A World Of Change
The world is like two frogs, leaping from lily pad to lily pad. The first frog takes 30 jumps, each time going from one lily pad to the next. After 30 jumps, they’re 30 lily pads away from where they started. The second frog also takes 30 jumps, but this time, each jump doubles in size. First one lily pad, then two, four, eight… After 30 jumps, the second frog is more than one billion lily pads away from where they started!
These frogs reflect the rate of change that we’re seeing in the business world. Up until a few hundred years ago, change was like the first frog. It happened but at a fairly steady pace. It was manageable, and there was no real need to adapt rapidly. Now, change is occurring at the exponential speeds of the second frog—each year, changes occur which massively impact the business world. Think smartphones, Bitcoin, Facebook…
Ultimately, this increasing change demands one thing of organizations: That they learn rapidly, and adapt. Organizations which develop a strong learning culture, doing everything they can to enhance the growth of their people, will win.
Create An Unshakeable Culture Of Learning
It’s not enough to rely on individuals taking control of their own learning. To safeguard the future of your organization, a genuine culture of learning must be fostered—one that is about more than the tenure or focus of one person and ensures your company as a whole is consistently learning for the future. But it also isn’t enough to wait for change to occur, and then catch up by learning. Organizational learning needs to be proactive.
Here are five key ways that this kind of learning culture can be developed in your business:
- Lead by example. First thing’s first—all leaders and managers in your organization need to be fanatical about learning, and actively doing so. There’s just no way around it; you’ll never get your team and company as a whole focused on learning if it’s not coming from the top. Be proactive about your development, and don’t hide it under a rock. Share in team meetings and one-on-one catch ups the things you’ve been learning in your own personal development, and instill a bit of excitement about it. When employees see their superiors passionately chasing growth, they will be far more likely to do the same.
- Walk alongside. For many, actively learning is something quite foreign. It could be decades since some of your team were in a classroom, and their skill set may be a little rusty in that area. Be overt in your willingness to coach and mentor others in their learning journeys. Make sure that your team knows you’re interested in their progress, and you’re always available to bounce questions and thoughts off. If need be, provide guidance on where to start and what steps to take next. Some organizations even find it helpful to implement a formal mentoring system, so that those who are further ahead in their learning can be paired with others at an earlier stage. Either way, if one-on-one attention is given, employees will feel supported, and a culture of learning is much more likely to take root.
- Align interests. Where possible, paint a picture of the benefit to each individual of their learning. Look to encourage development in areas that will be transferrable beyond their current role or even your organization, and draw their attention towards the career benefits of learning. When an individual feels their career progression is being taken into account, not only will they trust and be more loyal, but they will also draw from motivation much deeper than simply succeeding in their current role.
- Encourage collaboration. When was the last time you taught somebody something? Chances are, that lesson or piece of information is permanently etched in your mind now. Teaching others the things we’ve learnt is the pinnacle of learning—it makes the learning stick in our own minds. Rather than creating a culture of competition and individualism in within your organization, encourage and facilitate collaboration. Provide a context for employees to teach each other what they’re learning, and not only will they increase the amount they’re learning, but they’ll better establish their own understanding. This could be as simple as a five-minute teaching session at the end of each meeting, or a virtual forum where business intelligence is shared and discussed.
- Recognize and celebrate! Psychology 101—if you want people to keep doing things, praise them. Creating a learning culture is no different. Draw attention to those who are doing an excellent job of learning, and highlight their approach to the rest of the organization. Overtly encourage and praise their behavior, and not only will they work doubly hard to continue in the same way, but others will look to emulate their approach too. As with all recognition and celebration, there are a bunch of different ways to execute—perhaps learning targets could be set, and physical gifts are given when they are achieved; or, anecdotal stories could be shared with the rest of the company showing great progress.
A Tool To Facilitate Learning
When your organization decides to pursue learning intentionally, you’ll need a platform to facilitate this. Rather than each employee learning in isolation, a common area to draw everything learning-related together is necessary.
Many organizations are finding the tool which best enables this to occur is an internal intranet with social intranet functionality. Intranets are like your office watercooler, emails, filing cabinet, noticeboard and calendar, all bundled up into one. Great learning resources can be shared with groups or the entire company in the files sections, or as a post with a link or even social shared as part of your companies’ online community. According to MyHub, social intranet functionality can even increase productivity.
Those who are doing a great job of learning can be recognized and celebrated in the newsfeed to the whole company, while conferences and professional development can be booked into the company calendar, and discussions about learning can all be facilitated in the groups and chat function. With an intranet, everything related to learning can be kept under the same roof—no more losing information or resources because it’s buried in your inbox or filing cabinet.
Regardless of the approach, you choose to take, creating a culture that encourages learning is critical for your businesses success in the future. The world is changing rapidly, and only those who can learn fast enough and proactively enough will be able to keep up. Turn your organization into a learning and more social organization and win. Fail to, and you’ll fail, too.
Interested in finding out more? Then get in touch with us here at MyHub for an informal discussion on social intranets or why not try out my company’s intranet software for yourself with a free demo or 14-day trial period. It could be the best business decision you make.