Six Steps for Encouraging a Successful Learning Culture

12th October, 20214 min read

How should L&D professionals, OD representatives and HR practitioners support successful learning cultures in their organisations? In this month’s blog we share our thoughts on how to develop positive practices and processes.

Each month I create a graphic based around practical ideas and proven know-how for our WATCH & GO® video and podcast clients. Response to the ‘Six Steps for Encouraging a Successful Learning Culture’ graphic this month has been positive.

L&D professionals know that they often have an uphill battle to fight in getting learning on the agenda. And let’s stop kidding ourselves. Not everyone is going to be engaged by everything you produce. So, in this blog I do some plain speaking and share with you what’s proven. A learning initiative that shows promise in practice, is priceless in terms of results, compared with utopian learning ideals, which exist in theory only.

Set Goals

Agreeing learning objectives during the performance review process is vital. It gives validity to – and a measurement of – progress and development. The individual goals, team goals, and organisational goals, which are backed up by training, need to reflect both personal needs and your corporate requirements.

Make it a habit

The big tech companies have publicised their 20% time, TOTI (Time Off To Innovate) initiatives. Can you say the same? Are you enabling space in the working week within your culture for training time for your colleagues? There is something to be said about forming habits, which then leads to behaviours becoming automatic. Training can become part of the weekly team ethic and with all that motivation surely that makes for a happier more productive workforce?

Little and Often

Training courses don’t always have to be those all-day events, or two- even three-day off-site conferences. It can be as simple as reading an article or listening to a podcast. There’s a simple reason why the majority of our videos run for 5-minutes and why they are called ‘WATCH & GO®’. Just dipping in to refresh your knowledge, or pick up a new idea, is time usefully spent.

Gain Commitment

Ask your team to agree to a schedule and follow-up with them. It doesn’t have to be a big brother check-in each week, but a casual conversation around, ‘How did you find the training last week?’ or, ‘Did you make time for training?’. This will remind everyone that you have training at the forefront of your thinking, and it will become inherent within their thinking too.

Share the Experience

Encourage your team to share lessons learned after they’ve attended workshops or taken time out for learning. We all need flag bearers, those enthusiastic people, that share their knowledge and experiences. Tap into their positivity and you’ll see it replicating. We ask our participants to record three take-away messages at the end of our workshops and think about how they would describe the workshop to a friend of colleague. Encouraging them to continue to think about what they have learnt and what they can share with others.

Celebrate Achievements

It doesn’t have to be a wall chart or a public announcement. I’ve seen lots of people share their certifications on LinkedIn recently, which is great, but dare I say it sometimes leaves me feeling inadequate. So, for the more reserved members of your team, why not quietly acknowledge their achievements. Reward and Recognition doesn’t always have to be public. But it does have to be timely, precise, and clear. Your people need to know exactly what you want to praise and celebrate.

Whatever approach you decide to take in your organisation, think about learning as a positive and motivational force. A power for good. With a little bit of encouragement and support your learning culture can become a natural, intrinsic part of your organisation.

Esther McVee

12 October 2021