Create a Culture of Learning in Your Organization

Julie Shenkman
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Developing a company culture centered on corporate learning can be difficult, especially when a firm may invest large sums of money in the process. Despite the large initial investment, companies must help employees become problem solvers, quick thinkers and creative workers who can move a company forward.

Some of the best companies and industry leaders, such as Apple, SAP, American Express and Bridgewater Associates, all have one tenet in common. Each of these firms adapts quickly to the changing business climate. These companies have survived ups, downs, financial crises, product failures and economic downturns. One of the reasons for the success stems from a company culture that espouses corporate learning on all levels, from the entry-level clerk up to the CEO.

Across the world, companies spend 11 percent more on corporate learning than is cost effective. In the United States, only one in 10 companies have a true learning culture, and only 20 percent of employees demonstrate effective learning behaviors. Despite the need for vigorous training and data analysis to identify problems, most firms do not realize the missed opportunities due to a lack of learning.

Create an office culture based on education using steps that ascertain how your company can benefit from corporate learning. Determine the return on investment for spending money on training and development. Use metrics, analytical software and data-gathering tools in order to determine problem areas. Pinpoint what needs to change, and develop solutions. If one idea does not work, try another one on a specific control group within the organization to validate the outcome of your company's research.

Engage in nontraditional learning as part of the overall push to train employees. When the office has a lull in the action, suggest online seminars, webinars and video training so workers can learn at their own pace. Human resources should encourage employees to attend courses at local colleges by offering tuition reimbursement, financial incentives and increased pay once the employee completes the class. Bosses and managers need to realize that learning something new may require staffers to step out of their comfort zones, and managers should try to reassure employees of the benefits of a new experience.

A corporate learning culture means everyone has a growth mindset and wants to learn, help the company and pass on that knowledge to other colleagues. In order to do this, the office culture must engage employees with stimulating ideas and breakthroughs. Communication at all levels remains the key to implementing a big strategy, and the CEO must buy into the culture. Rely on the fact that everyone's ideas have value, and every person at the firm should be allowed to expand his knowledge base. Support risk-taking, build cohesive teams and hire smart people who want to learn as they grow.

Corporate learning comes in many forms. Once your office culture adopts the philosophy of educational opportunities at all levels of the company, maintain the culture through rigorous evaluation processes to determine what works and what fails.


Photo courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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