Organisations should embrace the learning culture

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Organisations that aspire to have a competitive advantage over others in today’s business world need to promote a learning culture.

HR Talk with Paul Nyausaru

In order to succeed in becoming a learning organisation, there is need to accept a set of attitudes, values and practices that support the process of continuous learning within the organisation.

Training and development is one key element in the business strategy of an organisation dedicated to continuous learning. Through learning, individuals can re-interpret their world and their relationship to it.

A true learning culture continuously challenges its own methods and ways of doing things resulting in continuous improvement and the capacity to change. In order for an organisation’s learning culture to succeed, the following critical elements need serious consideration:

Top management’s commitment: A learning culture can be developed in an organisation only when the top management is committed and deeply involved.

The learning culture has to be top-down and is best cascaded when “learning culture” is stated as one of the organisation’s key performance indicators.

Learning should be part of  the work culture and the people must live and breathe learning culture, with senior management being seen to encourage macro-management and empowerment to employees.

Aligning learning culture to business needs: The training professionals should ensure that their modus operandi of developmental activities are aimed at learning.

Management must make the employees feel that learning is aligned to business strategies. It is, therefore, imperative for human resources (HR) professionals to regularly talk with the line managers about the issues and problems they are facing and enable the employees to find solutions through the learning process.

Thus ensuring that current training courses offered are addressing current business needs and are extremely relevant for the specific time.

Setting clear objectives: There should be a clear and firm idea of the goals and objectives to be achieved. As already mentioned, “learning culture” should be a corporate goal and stated at the highest level of objectives in order that it is cascaded down to the organisation’s employees and becomes a part of every employee’s personal, annual goals. The strategic nature of the job must be reflected through plans.

The business objectives are set after a thorough inquiry with clients, senior managers, HR team and the target employees on how they want to develop their learning culture and best strategies to be adopted.

Personalising learning: It must be understood that learning is work and work is learning. The learning content must be appropriate and timely for every employee. Therefore, learning content and outcome and objective must be customised to each employee.

Learning needs can be identified through performance appraisals or competency-based assessments. Employees should be made to analyse their learning needs vis-à-vis their performance to achieve the organisational objectives. There is need for employees to be encouraged to work in teams, share information, learning and knowledge through team learning process. The peer group networks must be encouraged so that employees learn from others in teams.

Create the right environment for learning: A learning organisation without active learners is like a college without students. In order to build a learning culture we must cultivate active learners by creating a learner centric environment.

Employees must be provided with necessary tools and the relevant content to become self-learners.

Refining our approach to learning must continually develop learning culture. It is, therefore, possible to refine the learning approach after getting feedback from employees. The refined learning approach can be implemented by piloting the learning.

After assessing the success of the pilot programme, the learning approach can be implemented in the organisation. Attention to people’s preferred learning styles is to be considered so as to create a variety of learning methods to suit the theorist, activist, pragmatist, reflector etc.

Removing barriers in learning: The main aspect in self-learning is that the learners may not tolerate any obstacle. The obstacles, if any, should be removed and the work life must become hassle free for learners.

Therefore, the learning courses must be intuitive to use and must be available in one place and easily accessible. As the learning is important, cost must not be a hurdle in implementing a learning culture.