Four Steps to Building a Learning Culture

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Johannesburg is a wonderfully culturally diverse city. A married couple, who are close friends of mine, come from different cultures and we were laughing at a situation that occurred when they first started dating. The then-boyfriend, while visiting the then-girlfriend’s family used a word that English speakers often use to describe an unpleasant person. It’s a word that is not very offensive to English speakers, but as my friend found out, very distasteful in the Afrikaans community (generally speaking). However, with time and understanding, husband and wife have gotten over the cultural speedbumps and are living in marital bliss.

Like this marriage, understanding and fostering a cultural transformation within a company will take time but it’s worth it.

This year Corporate Education would like SYSPRO to form a culture of learning. We have always had education material, and a Certification program for over ten years, but only recently have we provided more structure to the learning as well as different formats for different learning styles.

Until now, we have not consistently or insistently provided compulsory education and certification for all employees. Everybody is different. Some employees love working through the online courses and writing assessments, while others dread the mere mention of them. So how does a company instill a culture of learning?  I have had to research how we can foster a learning culture and have learnt the following four things, which can be applied to any company.

  1. Create formal training and development plans for all employees. If training and development plans are not formalized, employees may not take the learning and education seriously and therefore not participate. These plans should be targeted to the employee’s role and not a one-size fits all plan. In doing so, the employee will see relevance in the learning.
  1. Reward employees for learning. Employees who have successfully learned new skills and abilities should be recognized. In our Learning Management System, we have leaderboards and badges which indicate top achievers. We also give tangible rewards to learners who complete programs. Some organizations even use financial rewards.
  1. Evaluate the training and development plans. Focus groups, surveys and polls should be done regularly to ensure employees are benefiting from them. If the employees feel that they are part of the process, this may encourage their participation in the learning.
  1. Formalize information sharing. Encourage employees to share information as part of knowledge sharing sessions. This way, when someone has learnt a new topic or skill they can be responsible for presenting or showing this to the team. Employees can be encouraged to become Subject Matter Experts, the go-to guy or gal. This can tie-in with point two where the reward is recognition.

Keeping up-to-date and learning new skills keeps the employee ahead of the pack and the company competitive. Continuous education is such an important aspect for any industry and any organization. Having educated and informed employees leads to an overall improvement in the organization. And isn’t that what you want for your company?

SOURCE: Tala A. Nabong. Creating a Learning Culture for the Improvement of your Organization. 7 April 2015.


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