Benefits of a Learning-Based Culture
Learning is a lifelong activity. New positions, even new projects, require a certain amount of education. Unfortunately, professional development (in many organizations) is stuck in the classroom. While traditional classroom learning is an efficient means of delivering information, it is not always the most effective. Many times, the concepts learned at a conference or training event are not implemented or can even be forgotten back at the office. Focusing on education without hands-on experience is a HUGE missed opportunity.
Effective leadership development is experience-driven. Experience is gained when education is put into practice. Fostering an organizational learning-based culture will engage team members, increase employee satisfaction, and boost productivity.
Creating a learning culture that is experience-based does not need to be costly. Utilizing the existing knowledge base within the organization is the simplest and most cost effective way to bring effective learning into the office. It also allows for cross-education to occur. Cross-education is critical at senior levels, but can be equally beneficial to productivity at all levels within an organization.
Cross-training has many advantages. One of the best advantages is the ability to shift employee roles in times of expansion, vacancies, or for a specific project. Cross-education is great for employee morale and retention. The ability to work on different projects or learn a new aspect of a company helps to break up monotony, while increasing one's self-worth and value within the company.
Task forces, shadowing, and special projects are all great opportunities to cross-educate. Determining what employees need to know for a specific project or position creates a roadmap for learning. Allow that learning to occur while working on the assignment. Pairing up employees from different departments for learning increases accountability. It also helps foster working relationships between colleagues.
Conferences and classroom learning still have merit and are especially effective if shared with the organization as a whole. Whenever an employee or department attends a professional development event outside of the office, have them lead a seminar on the content of that event when they return. Organizations can also bring the classroom learning right to the office. The concepts can then be implemented in real time.
The key to any learning culture is to embrace different learning styles. Some learn best by hearing information, others by seeing or reading information, and some learn best through writing or physical manipulation. Professional development options can include online videos or articles, face-to-face training, and hands-on experiences. Depending upon the industry, all three of these options can be achieved for each training experience.
Promoting a learning-based culture will yield more engaged, productive, and satisfied employees.