Three Essential Steps to Build a Culture of Learning at Work

Steve Jobs did not found Pixar. It is common knowledge, Jobs never expected Pixar to be an animation industry leader when he bought the computer division from George Lucas in 1986. Back then, animation in Hollywood was a dying art; and Pixar was no more than a 45 person computer graphics division of Lucasfilm, headed by Ed Catmull, whose dream was to produce computer-animated movies. The group developed the Pixar Image Computer, a computer graphics machine that produces high-end visual imaging. Jobs was enthralled by the technology and thought it had breakout potential when be bought it. Today, we know Pixar as a runaway success with top grossing movies beginning with Toy Story, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Up. Some say Pixar would have never happened without Steve Jobs.

Very few know the story behind the success. Pixar’s track record is unique and that’s because Jobs, Ed and his team at Pixar were naturally operating as a learning organization. Time and again, Pixar has proven itself as a constant learning organization, with a proven ability to innovate and reinvent a culture of humility.

Most CEOs recognize that their business can’t success without constant learning. Deloitte, General Electric, Unilever, and Wells Fargo are some of Fortune 500 companies that have invested in training and developing employees.

Global business leaders realize that in order to stand out in their respective sectors, they need to nurture a culture of learning from top-to-bottom. Plenty of research in the direction of learning at work suggests that companies that learn fastest and adapt well to changing times perform the best over time. They are better able to adapt to the constant demands of an ever-changing business climate and harness a nugget of ideas for new products, services, and processes.

Honor Culture of Learning at Work

Creating a transformative culture of learning pays off. Consider how some of the benefits listed below would affect your business productivity and profit.

A Growth Mindset Employee Engagement Enhanced Creativity and Productivity Leadership Development Employee Motivation

A culture of learning at work is the single biggest driver of business impact. It’s a catch 22 situation when you’re striving to build a culture of learning, but like most things in life, it can be taught over time.

In the United States, organizations spend an average $1,200 per employee on training and development. Meanwhile, small organizations spend on average a little over $1,800 per employee; midsize organizations spend $800, according to the Association for Talent Development. On an average, this is more than $160 billion annually.

In spite of the humungous investment, there are persistent questions about whether organizations are getting their money’s worth. Roughly one in ten companies have a throbbing learning culture, according to CED Research. Here, a culture of learning is defined as a place that supports an inquisitive mindset, an independent thirst for knowledge, and shared learning directed towards the missions and values of the organization.

Make Learning Easily Accessible

Learning takes place over a period of time. It takes place across a variety of platforms, such as online courses, webinars, and social networks. Today, millennials generally prefer to learn online at their own pace. In order to push a culture of learning, it’s best for HR to reassess the role they play in training and development. This includes playing and active and independent role in providing courses and seminars to the employees.

Take a look at American Express, based in New York City. It measures the impact of learning on certain business functions, such as sales, on pre- and post-individual and organizational change. It looks at its employee pulse survey results in order to validate the impact of its learning strategy on employee retention and satisfaction.

“When employees are consistently learning, they are happy,” says David Clark, senior VP and chief learning officer.

Reward Learning At Work

Humans are life-long learners, we have an undaunted appetite for learning and experience. It’s in our DNA to encourage learning through risk-taking, celebrate the little ‘Aha!’ moments. Moreover, neuroscientists say that learners are better able to find answers right when they need them. Learning empowers individuals to learn at their own pace and combine hands-on application and collaboration to achieve goals.

You must ensure the managers know how to help employees cultivate their own wisdom, competence, and confidence. Lastly, measure learning along with performance in order to boost both. Reward individual and team growth.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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