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March 23, 2023 5 Min Read

Create A Culture Of Continuous Learning

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Creating a culture of continuous learning is critical for any leader who wants their team to stay competitive and adaptive in a rapidly changing world. Our ability to keep up is challenged. According to LinkedIn Research, half of today’s most in-demand skills weren’t even on the list three years ago.

Everyone in an organization needs to keep learning and thereby growing. 73% of people consider themselves life-long learners, according to the Association for Training & Development. There is urgency about this in light of increasing dependency on knowledge workers and demographic change which could result in the institutional knowledge of experienced employees leaving as they retire. 


Model The Behavior

Leaders can harness a learning mindset and facilitate creating a climate of learning through their supportive behavior and skills. Jane McKenzie, Professor of Management Knowledge, and Learning at Henley-on-Thames has said this. “Leaders drive the process of organizational learning by providing time and space, granting freedom to look at things in new ways.” 

There are several ways a leader can model learning behavior. Leaders should actively demonstrate that learning is a priority by engaging in continuous learning themselves. This can include attending conferences, reading books and articles, taking courses, and giving meaningful and constructive feedback, and seeking feedback. By modeling this behavior, leaders can set an example for their team to follow. More experienced leaders can become mentors to less experienced employees as a visible sign of learning from others in the organization. Coach Diaconescu notes that “Implementing new behaviors and creating new habits takes time and perseverance. Coaches and mentors are perfect partners to support the process. “


Helping Others Learn

Learning is the process of acquiring understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, and values through experience, study or being taught. Learning equates to growth as a person and in role. Studies in the workplace tell us that 70% of learning takes place on the job, 20% from interactions with others and 10% in formal training.

When leaders demonstrate the behavior of mentoring or coaching others there is learning conveyed and instructional techniques that are appropriate to the individual and situation. Learning leaders engage the learning process for others, acting as a mentor, a teacher, or a coach. There are common instructional techniques that are useful in a situation where the topic is complex, or brand new to the learner. For example, it may be necessary to deconstruct the learning and break things down into smaller learning chunks, prioritize and sequence by importance in order to gain optimal performance in application, and convey the risk and cost of failure due to a lack of learning.     

As a learning leader, how do you support learning in everyday activities? What is the appropriate leadership style? The answer is that it depends on the situation, the content, and the learner. You need to be comfortable flexing your style. In a situation where safety or policy and procedure is required, the appropriate style is to assert your authority to set expectations, convey guidelines and take corrective action if necessary. You would not want to use that style with a peer. Instead, approach learning as a mutually beneficial exchange based on the specialized skills or knowledge of each other. Storytelling is another approach or style which is appropriate for mentoring a more junior associate who is growing into their role and the organization and can benefit from your experience. This is another area where a coach can help to choose the appropriate strategy and style for the situation.


A Learning Culture

Learning is not just for leaders. The whole organization needs to be in a learning mindset if the goal is to create a culture of continuous learning. A leader can promote this culture by creating ripples of influence in an ever-expanding circle. When trying to generate organizational learning and change, lead by example. Demonstrate your curiosity and interest in learning by asking questions and listening carefully. Promote cross-team collaboration and ideation sessions. Colleagues need to know that there is a psychologically safe space to challenge assumptions, processes and rules. And as Professor McKenzie says, make time and space available, even if it means moderating the emphasis on short-term performance. Remember, powerful learning comes from taking calculated risks, failing and learning from mistakes.


Foster Continuous Learning

What are the observable behaviors that support learning?

Leaders should invest in their team’s growth and development by providing resources and opportunities for learning and coaching. This can include offering in-house training sessions, online courses, mentorship programs, and coaching. By providing these opportunities, leaders can help their team members stay up to date on the latest developments in their field and respect their needs for professional growth and recognition.


Recognize and Reward

Employees who demonstrate a commitment to learning and growth should be praised. This can include publicly acknowledging their achievements, providing opportunities for advancement, and offering incentives such as bonuses or promotions. By recognizing and rewarding learning, leaders can motivate their team to continue developing their skills and knowledge and maximize their personal and professional potential.


Foster A Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that people can develop their abilities and intelligence through hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Leaders can create a culture of continuous learning by fostering a growth mindset in their teams. This can involve encouraging employees to take on new challenges and providing opportunities for them to learn new skills.

Coaching conversations can support you in self-awareness and practice of a growth mindset and help you identify what you can do to improve the culture of learning at the individual level, at the team level, and at the organizational level.


Next Steps

Think through what you want to see in a learning culture. Then write down some questions that will form the foundation of a 1:1 conversation with a TaskHuman coach.
For example, how can I balance short term deliverables for long-term learning? Formulating your questions will make for a productive coaching conversation. Then, use the TaskHuman platform to connect with a coach – search by topic or name to book an in-app call.


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