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Revolutionize your leadership development through an improved learning culture

Written by Enya Reinecken | 12th May 2023
Three employees standing on an upwards pointing arrow.
The world around us is changing faster than ever before. With constant developments in our environment, adapting and innovating is crucial for organizations to remain competitive. This is especially important for their leaders who must navigate change and drive innovation.

But how can we cultivate a work environment that fosters the development of these leaders? Through a learning culture. Employees need to be encouraged and supported to continuously enhance their skill set individually and as a team. Because that is precisely how leadership skills are created: by taking risks, making mistakes, and turning those mistakes into opportunities for growth.

How can we create a learning culture? This challenging task requires support and engagement from all levels of the organization and effective integration of learning and development opportunities into everyday operations.To make progress, it’s important to commit to this initiative for the long term and to remain flexible and responsive to changes as they arise.

Sounds awfully complex, right? While developing a learning culture might not be the easiest task, the benefits are worth it! So, let’s dive in:

Step 1: Assess your organization's current learning culture

To begin, it is necessary to determine your starting point. A few indicators help you determine the quality of your company’s learning culture.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:
  • Are your employees encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise? A good example of this would be sharing in designated meetings or groups.
  • Do you foster a culture of collaboration where employees work together to solve problems?
  • Do your employees feel comfortable sharing and receiving feedback?
  • Are your employees given enough opportunities and time to develop their skills through mentorship, on-the-job learning or training programs?
  • Does your organization have enough resources to support the initiatives mentioned above?
  • Do your managers put enough emphasis on employee development?
  • Are your employees free to try new things and expand their mindsets?
The strength of any organization lies in the collective strength of its employees. So offering opportunities for professional and personal development will not only benefit individuals but your organization as a whole. It’s a win-win situation!
Four employees sitting at a conference table looking demotivated.

Step 2: Develop a strategy for creating an improved learning culture

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for creating a learning culture, it’s time to develop actionable strategies based on your findings from step one.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this, but there are many possible strategies you can consider, such as:
  • Providing formal leadership development training programs
  • Promoting informal learning opportunities like peer coaching and mentoring
  • Granting access to materials for independent study, including books, journals, and online courses
  • Promoting a growth mentality among executives and staff through emphasizing feedback and celebrating achievements Holding frequent gatherings, activities, and knowledge-sharing session
  • Removing obstacles to a strong learning culture, like:
    • resistance to change by starting with small gradual changes
    • lack of resources by considering cost-effective training methods
    • competing goals by aligning your goals with the organization’s mission
Are you ready for step three?

Step 3: Measure the impact of your learning culture

Congratulations! You have successfully developed and implemented a learning culture in your organization and created a useful asset for your company. However, this is only the beginning. You must stay vigilant and adapt your strategy to internal and external changes.

It is also a good idea to track the success of your initiatives to show value. That way, you can make insightful data-driven decisions on how to improve. There are multiple metrics you can consider when assessing your learning culture:

Employee engagement

Are your employees engaging with the content you created? Are they satisfied with the opportunities given to them? This information is best gathered through an internal survey, be it formal or informal.

Another way of getting feedback is through focus groups or one-on-one interviews. In either case, you need to ensure that your employees feel comfortable sharing their honest opinions with you, as positive feedback out of politeness does not lead to improvements.

Training Completion Rates

This is one of the easiest ways to measure the success of your strategy. A high training completion rate indicates that your employees are motivated to learn and expand their skill set. But you also need to consider related factors such as the individual’s workload or the quality of communication on a certain program. Time constraints are often seen as a barrier to corporate learning. But it doesn’t have to be. Microlearning and on-demand learning can help.

By offering your employees the flexibility to learn at their convenience, you can greatly improve engagement and learning success. To make each learning unit more effective, make sure to include explainer videos. Research has shown that videos are a powerful tool for improving comprehension and retention.

Skill Development

You can track the ROI of individual training efforts by assessing how your employees are developing the skills you want them to have. You can do this by conducting regular performance reviews and tracking KPIs related to those skills. After gathering the data, you can compare it with the cost incurred (direct and indirect), and voilà – you have yourself a solid ROI dataset!

It is a good idea to conduct performance reviews at varying intervals after training has taken place, so that you can also measure knowledge retention.

Retention rates

93% of organizations are concerned about employee retention. “Providing learning opportunities” is the number one way organizations are working to improve retention, according to the 2023 Linkedin Learning Workplace Learning Report.

Therefore, when paired with data collected through surveys, employee turnover can be a valid indicator of the effectiveness of your learning culture strategy.

Promotion Rates

Your ultimate goal in developing a learning culture should be to facilitate career progression for your employees. Promotion rates are one of the most important metrics to consider, even though this is probably the most challenging to measure accurately. What you want to know is: Is there a difference in promotion rate between employees who completed certain training programs and those who didn’t? Is there a correlation between the amount of training undertaken and the likelihood of being promoted?

Ideally, you want your answer to be yes to both questions. But don’t let this bias cloud your judgment. Promotion rates depend on many factors, such as individual preference, availability of open positions, length of service, or external barriers. If you consider all the above metrics, you should be able to get a fairly accurate view of your training programs’ impact.
A man with his dog, sitting in front of his laptop below floating signs.

In conclusion

In this article we looked at the significance of fostering a strong learning culture within an organization to remain competitive. We found that a strong learning culture relies on support from all levels of an organization and that forming it requires an ongoing process rather than a one-time effort.

Developing a learning culture is a three-step process. We first need to assess the current state of our organization before developing a strategy based on the findings. Lastly, measuring the impact of the learning culture is essential to ensure its effectiveness. You can measure the learning culture’s success through employee engagement, training completion rates, skill development, retention rates, and promotion rates.

By implementing a learning culture, you can provide your employees with professional and personal development opportunities, leading to a win-win situation for both the organization and the employees.

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