Getting Your Skills on Track - Part Three: Preparing Your Organization to Learn

"74% of workers are willing to learn new skills or re-train in order to remain employable" (Lorman Team).

In the first two parts of this blog series, we discussed how to identify the skills gaps in your organization and how to address them through upskilling and reskilling. So, the question now is, how do we implement it? When preparing your organization to learn, we must ask ourselves a few things to ensure your team is in fact ready to take the next steps. In this blog, we will cover the basics of what is needed to create a learning culture in your organization.

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Are your workers ready to learn?

According to 2022 Workplace Learning Report, 72% of people report that they need to learn new skills for optimal performance in their current role in the workforce. This is where upskilling and reskilling come into play to provide employees with the new skills necessary for their role in your organization.

“Continuous improvement requires a commitment to learning” (Harvard Business Review). Problem solving and introducing new practices require a change in perspective and immediate action. Your employees must be open-minded about these new processes for them to work. Otherwise, changes and improvements will be short-lived.

Have they been introduced to the concept of growth within their position? What about within the company?

Understanding the concept of growth within their position and more broadly, the company, will encourage employees to gain the skills necessary to excel and give them a set goal to move towards promotion. Providing clear career pathways and continual learning opportunities are key to reducing employee turnover and optimally keeping a business growing. This makes the organization more promising regarding long-term job security and overall sustainability.

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Create a Learning Culture

Where do your employees learn? Classrooms, home, workplace? The answer is… on the job!

The goal of a learning culture is to have high-quality continuous learning available to everyone in the flow of work. While the recipe for a successful career entails ongoing growth and learning, companies often do not provide employees with the proper learning culture and tools to excel. How do we create this learning culture? It is a challenge, but nothing you won’t be able to handle! To simplify things, I’ve narrowed down five key points that are sure to assist you in building a learning environment in your organization.

5 keys to building a learning culture:

1. Remembering that many people learn from doing and improving.

  • Create an environment that supports on-the-job learning. In fact, 70% of employees’ knowledge is learned in normal daily work activities. Put in place programs to help employees learn quicker on the job. Research has shown that organizations that adopt on-demand training and performance support tools outperform those that focus on formal training.

2. Allow employees time to improve their skills. Be patient and remember that this is a learning curve for everyone Promote and reward expertise

  • Higher impact learning organizations raise employees to become experts. These levels of ability should be rewarded. Publicizing and promoting the success of your employees are both ways to further encourage your employees to success.
  • Let your employees know that you are willing to invest in building their skills in the workforce. Experts will develop and shared expertise will be beneficial all around the company.

3. Encourage leadership

  • It is beneficial for employees to learn skills through expert peers as the experts were once beginners. Provide opportunities for employees with new and improved skills to teach others on the job.
  • Create an environment that enables experts to promote their own skills and experience. This will further encourage the experts to build their skills and help other employees excel.

4. Formal training is still relevant.

  • Even with new hands-on learning techniques, some formal training still plays a part in career development and professional networking.
  • Traditional training tactics can be combined with the new approaches for optimal learning and overall greater productivity.

5. Room for error

  • Allow employees time to learn and make mistakes. Typically, the best forms of organizational and individual learning come from learning from mistakes. Overall, mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities in your organization.
  • For example, if we look at the military, the largest learning organization on the planet, this method of learning is prominent. After a maneuver is completed, it is then reviewed by the team to showcase what worked and what changes need to be made.
  • Keep in mind that the end goal is to build a foundation of continuous improvement. Providing employees with the time to reflect on this new way of learning and the part they play in the workforce will allow them to further develop as professionals.

There are endless ways to build a learning organization. Following these steps, you can make necessary changes in your organization to create a learning culture which will help your organization to thrive and surpass competitors. I can assure you, building expertise and promoting organizational learning will pay off both now and in the long run.

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Ensuring Success

Now that you are aware of the framework required to prepare your employees to learn, it is critical to focus on the change management and cultural aspects that make it a sustainable success.

Personal mastery for management and employees

  • Challenges with adaptivity may be present when trying to create a learning culture in your organization. Initially, it may be difficult for employees to get on board with this new way of learning as they may be resistant to changing old habits. For optimal productivity, you must first identify the workers in your organization who need additional knowledge and skills to excel. Then, incorporate a repeatable process that will integrate with the way your employees already work.

Management Support

  • Every great company begins with solid, reliable management. Leadership must demonstrate commitment and provide reinforcement to employees for tasks they aren’t familiar/confident with. This is most important when trying to create a learning environment in your organization.

Goal setting and Incentives

  • To create a learning culture in your organization, it is much more compelling to have an incentive system in addition to a clear career goal in place. These effective measures will motivate employees and supply an overall understanding of what it takes to transform goals into priorities.

Turnover and Investment

  • You must be prepared to invest in new learning tools and techniques for your organization. Industries with a high turnover rate are more at risk of a loss. When people leave the company, they take with them the knowledge that they obtained, and learning/training must start from scratch with new employees. Companies with low turnover are often the most successful in the long run when trying to create a learning organization as expert employees can pave the way to success and assist others in gaining skills.

How does your organization secure buy-in?

  • Cross-training and multitasking- Acquire people with different types of experience rather than specializing in a single industry.
  • Focus on how these new processes will benefit your organization and
  • Invite managers to be open to addressing questions and feedback when preparing your organization to learn.
  • Provide managers with a poll to identify where the skills gaps lie and who in the organization the learning programs should target.
  • Involve managers in the sign-off of training programs, being sure to provide them with tools necessary.
  • Ensure managers are aware of their significance and the need for their support in the training process of the organization.

Developing a culture of learning in your organization is important for the expansion of your people and business. The key to low turnover and the success of your company is supplying the best learning environment for your workers. Supporting and guiding your employees in new growth strategies will encourage them to enhance their skills. Furthermore, promoting leadership and rewarding expertise makes learning more engaging. Offering employees the chance to learn and grow, shows how much you value them and in turn makes them more effective at performing tasks on the job.

Now that we know what it takes to prepare organizations to learn, it’s time to address the learning systems and tools available to your company. Learning should be a key part of any company’s culture, but it first must be engaging to your workers. In the final part of our Getting Your Skills on Track Series, we will introduce the concept of learning systems and discuss how they can be used to upskill and reskill your employees. Check back with us soon!

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” ~Bobby Unser