Towards a Modern Learning Culture – Enabling Digital Transformation

Modern corporate learning culture

Towards a Modern Learning Culture – Enabling Digital Transformation

With the current pace of change in the business environment, learning has become a major factor determining organisational success. While businesses – and learning and development in particular – are going through digital transformation, learning culture has emerged as an organisational success factor. Organisations that are learning at the speed of change are much more likely to survive in the hyper competitive environment. Therefore, we wanted to share some of the cornerstone elements of great learning cultures. While adoption of new technologies into the flow of learning remains important, there’s limited success to be had without a modern, agile learning culture.

A great organisational learning culture needs the whole organisation

Great learning cultures don’t emerge without buy-in and commitment from all levels of the organisation. It starts from the leadership. Signing off on projects and writing checks for the L&D team is not enough. Rather, the leadership must become actively involved in the learning processes and champion change initiatives. Furthermore, it’s important to integrate learning into the workflow and day-to-day operations. This requires commitment from the line managers. Finally, you need the employees to actually take advantage of the learning opportunities you provide to them.

But how would you go about accomplishing this? Firstly, a data-driven approach to learning should help you to link learning to performance, communicate its importance and secure commitment for learning from your leaders. Secondly, learning analytics will also help you to communicate the behavioural impact on people to line managers. If you demonstrate that you can make operations more efficient through learning, you won’t have a hard time securing commitment. Finally, you can work to ensure learning uptake by your employees through collaborative approaches. Switch traditional top-down learning design methods to more learner-centric ones. A great learning culture should attempt to provide personalised learning opportunities to each employee.

Great learning cultures embrace inclusivity and equal opportunity

If organisations want to truly engage their employees with learning, they should adopt an inclusive approach to it. By providing inclusive and equal opportunities of learning for all employees, regardless of their place in the organisational chart, you are making a big statement. Instead of treating learning as a pastime of a select few, you’re letting your people know that they’ll have all the opportunities they need to develop within the organisation.

Naturally, it’s not feasible for commercial enterprises to sit their employees in training on a free-for-all basis. However, digital learning delivery provides a great way of giving everyone equal access to learning – without jeopardising productivity. Thus, the employees who want to develop themselves can do so, at their own time and pace. A commitment to opportunities across the board goes a long way for developing a great learning culture.

Empowerment is key for all learning initiatives

If you don’t empower your employees, you’re not going to stay competitive. That applies to learning and development as well. There are two primary means for empowering your learners to succeed.

First, you need to start curating learning on your employees’ terms. All organisations engage probably engage in some sort of training needs analysis. Yet, only very few really make their employees a part of the learning process at the design stages. Failing to do that usually result in learning interventions that are of questionable relevance, and may even fail to address the real problems. Hence, we highly recommend adopting a co-creation approach to learning design. Make your employees an integral part of the process; use their expertise, subject matter and knowledge of the day-to-day jobs to design truly impactful learning experiences.

Second, the perhaps even more important factor to learning culture is making sure your employees can also apply the learning. When advising companies on learning transformation, we’ve found out this is a problem that not even many organisations are aware of. They may be producing very high quality learning experiences, but the employees may remain unsatisfied. When surveying the employees independently, we often find out they feel they don’t have reasonable means of applying the things learnt. This could be due to corporate culture, lack of line manager commitment, office politics or fear of going out of one’s comfort zone. That’s fundamentally an appalling situation, since no matter how the L&D team tries to twist it, there’s just no learning ROI.

Conclusion

Overall, the learning culture of an organisation is at the core of determining the success of learning- and digital transformation. To us, the importance of culture even exceeds that of the learning technology stacks. You may invest in all state-of-the-art tools, but if you don’t empower and engage across the organisation, you’re likely not to see much in terms of results.

Are you aware of the real barriers to learning in your organisation? Do you need advise on digital transformation of learning or nurturing a learning culture? If yes, feel free to contact us for consultation.

More Learning Ideas

Fostering Growth Mindset with Your (Digital) Learning Strategy

Growth Mindset

Fostering Growth Mindset with Your (Digital) Learning Strategy

In today’s business, agility, resilience and the willingness to take risks defines the best and most innovative organisations. To achieve a culture embracing challenges, change and risks, organisations need to nurture a Growth Mindset in their employees. Professor Carol Dweck has done extensive research on individuals and companies, examining the performance differences between a fixed mindset and growth mindset. In short, a fixed mindset seems to be holding back change and innovation, whereas organisations with a growth mindset are able to truly embrace the rapidly changing environment.

You can read more about Carol Dweck and Fixed vs. Growth Mindset here. 

To drive the mindset change from fixed to growth, learning and development plays an important part. Everything starts from the mindset and strategy in this regard as well. Hence, here are 4 important things you should incorporate into your learning strategy to enable growth mindset.

Effort praise vs. intelligence praise

In her research, Prof. Dweck found out that people who are praised for their intelligence (“you’re so smart”) become much less prone to taking on risks and new challenges. They fear losing their status of intelligence or recognition if they don’t excel in the next challenge. On the other hand, people who have been praised for their effort (“you worked hard and did well, but could you improve further?”) are more likely to develop a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset tend to embrace all the challenges and difficulties that come their way.

Naturally, as a business, you are likely better off with people with a growth mindset. Hence, it’s important to start recognising effort instead of intelligence. This starts from the feedback culture. You should always keep the learners on their toes – remind them that there’s always room for improvement and more to learn. Encourage the top performers in any learning activity to seek out more advanced knowledge. Meanwhile, encourage the bottom performers to try again, possibly with different approaches.

Therefore, you should implement constant and continuous feedback streams across your learning – focusing on effort. Digital platforms provide great ways of providing such feedback. Furthermore, enabling constant, effort-centered feedback is very easy to implement across all digital learning content. However, no matter how you go about it, remember not to encourage effort the wrong way. You don’t want your employees to keep trying repeatedly and blindly without seeing any results. Instead, you should encourage them to seek new ways of doing things and achieving their learning goals.

Reward the learning journey instead of the end result

On a related note, organisations should also consider rewarding the effort put into learning. Often, it is easy to reward top performers who e.g. have scored the highest in a formal test. However, if the existing skill level of these people has already been high, it’s likely that very little development has happened. Hence, you may easily fall back to intelligence praise. Instead of rewarding just top performers, you should perhaps look at development on a wider level. You should ask yourself which of your employees have developed the most. They may not be the best yet, but they have likely exercised the most effort. Thus, you should recognise the effort reminding them that everything is within their reach as long as they work hard for it. This is key in developing the growth mindset.

Personalise learning opportunities

We all know that learning is a highly individual thing – people learn in different styles and have different preferences. Therefore, your L&D activities should be more learner-centric rather than company-centric. Instead of having a single, corporate-defined pathway to learning success, you should enable people to work on their strengths. Kinetic learners will likely struggle with traditional approaches, whereas highly motivated individuals may lose interest in learning formats without social elements or discovery.

Therefore, it’s important to personalise both the learning journeys as well as learning content delivery. Digital provides great opportunities for personalising learning journey’s according to individual’s skill levels, learning styles etc. Whenever someone’s struggling, encourage them to try alternative approaches, and provide supporting resources. If someone is not learning in a classroom, try experiential or digital delivery – and vice versa. This also communicates trust to your staff – they’ll know that they have an opportunity to try again if they fail initially. And that’s what growth mindset is all about.

Embrace mistakes and enable a risk-free learning environment

Finally, failure and mistakes are things that should be embraced rather than avoided in the corporate learning space. Overall, making mistakes is one of the strongest drivers of learning. Surely no employee is wilfully making mistakes and adversely affecting the business.

Enabling a risk-free learning culture is important. You should never punish employees for mistakes or imperfections. Hence, you should build all learning activities in a way that they can be re-done. If an employee scores low in assessment or doesn’t get a good review, let them try again. Especially in the realm of digital learning, repetition costs no extra. If you have areas of training which are hard to do train live in the fear of making mistakes (e.g. frontline jobs), you could consider digital learning simulations or immersions.

All in all, the best thing L&D professionals can do to foster growth mindset development is to avoid putting people in boxes. Every one of your employees has the potential to be a high performer (if not, you might revisit your hiring decisions), they just need to find their own way. And you as an employee should provide them to tools to do that.

Are you focusing your recognition on intelligence rather than effort? Would you like to find out how you can leverage digital on providing personalised learning with effort-centric recognition? Contact us to find out more.  

More Learning Ideas