CREATING A CULTURE OF Learning in the Workplace

By Darnell Dobson, Contributing writer

A highly skilled workforce is essential to the success of any organization. In order to improve the skills of employees, executives have many different tools and resources at their disposal that can aid the development and evolution of their employees into the best talents in their industry. A highly skilled work- force also increases the chances of higher workplace stability for employees.

To ensure that your organization is maximizing the full capabilities of your employees, it would be wise to consider taking advantage of coaching, mentor- ing, and training resources and develop- ing them according to the needs of your employees and your company. All three can be valuable assets to your business provided they are used at the right time and for the right purpose. The National Retail Association of Australia (NRA) outlines the differences between training, mentoring, and coaching:

TRAINING

  • Usually formal with well-defined learn- ing objectives
  • Strong focus on a trainer being a sub- ject matter expert
  • Participants are expected to learn new skills from trainer (also referred to as a knowledge transfer)

COACHING

  • Geared towards employees with spe- cific goals to achieve and relationship is defined specifically by those goals
  • Can be short term or long term • Once goal is met, relationship is re-evaluated

MENTORING

  • Informal relationship between two people
  • Some roles overlap with that of a coach or trainer but there is no formal obligation

EFFECTIVE COACHING, TRAINING, AND MENTORING

With many organizations making the big push towards developing better coaching, training, and mentorship programs, it is important to first carefully evaluate the weaknesses that exist and compare those with the goals of the organization. When training employees, assess their current abilities and create and prioritize training regimens that suit those needs.

The benefits of developing effective methods for skill-based learning are endless, not only are you as an organization contributing to the personal development of your employees, it also gives you the best chance to stay ahead of the curve. In such a constantly changing industrial marketplace it is important for your organization to keep up with changes as they occur and stay ahead of competitors.

INTERACTIVE LEARNING

In order to get employees producing at the top of their game it is important to create learning opportunities that are tailored to their learning abilities. As leaders and executives, it is time to think outside the box when looking for new ways to edu- cate employees; forget about the PowerPoint slides and dry conference room lectures, be as innovative and interactive as possible, employees will be more engaged and more likely to retain the knowledge transferred.

Offering customized, flexible programs that allow the employee to have more control over how they learn will help to reach all employees regardless of their learning type. Recent research suggests millennials are closer to previous genera- tions than they are different. Therefore, instead of developing learning programs based on the idea that employees learn differently due to the generation they belong to, develop programs with the individual in mind, and give them flexible learning tools that fit their abilities.

Employees should be Proactive but the Responsibility is on the Organization to Create an Atmosphere of Learning. Yes, companies should be taking a leading role in helping employees develop their skills. However, employees should not wait idly on their company to provide learning programs nor should they rely on what they were taught in a post-secondary institution. The employee has to be willing to learn and be open-minded in their learning.

We are in a constantly changing society, which means the learning never truly ends no matter how accomplished you become. At the end of the day, it is not the company that needs to develop their skills, it is the employee. That being said, organizations must ensure that the right resources and tools are in place for a culture of independent learning to develop. As Chamorro-Premuzic and Swan state in a contribution to the Harvard Business Review:

“Though people differ in their natural curiosity and learning potential, the context will also determine how much learnability people display. Executives and senior leaders should be tasked with enhancing employee’s learnability throughout the organization. Since leaders play a major role in shaping the climate of teams and culture of organizations, they will act as either catalysts or blockers of employees’ learnability.”

As the industrial marketplace continues to evolve and grow, companies will have to adapt to the changes taking place. In order to ensure that your business does not get left behind, you must implement a culture of learning by promoting healthy coaching, training and mentoring programs for employees.In essence, the more your employees know, the more they will be able to effectively contribute to the company’s growth and expand their own professional expertise.