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Transforming Teams: 3 Strategies for Cultivating a Dynamic Learning Culture

Monday, March 11, 2024

Did you know that “business people who read at least 7 business books a year earn over 2.3 times more than those who read only one per year,” according to the Financial Post?

Leadership and development (L&D) is a never-ending dilemma for organizations, especially now that we know it drives engagement and performance.

But how do you create and leverage that learning culture? This is a fascinating topic explored in detail in this discussion by two dynamic and insightful CEOs.

Cultivating a Culture of Learning

Learning is a behavior and a habit, starting with setting up the right structure and rewards.

Organization development (OD) teams also have a critical role to play, which needs to be part of their 2024 OD priorities. These priorities include responding to disruptive technologies, redesigning teams to enable collaboration, and ensuring a sense of purpose and inclusion.

In fact, the need for inclusion goes one step further as research shows that learning is a social experience. The Learning About Learning Enhances Performance paper further demonstrates that we can “show, tell, make meaning or create knowledge” when enabling learning.

And meaning-making remains the most powerful approach.

In other words, learning is active, and we essentially bounce off each other as we gradually make sense of new constructs to absorb them. We are likelier to retain knowledge if we debate it with others.


Strategies to Promote Collaborative Learning for Greater Performance

  • Book clubs: Not only do they bring people together, but they also create a safe space where people can make mistakes together. Review our whitepaper on transforming organizations through books to find out more.
  • Mentorship programs: There’s nothing better than mentors to create an emotional bond with an organization. Mentors provide invaluable support, guidance, and networks to their mentees.
  • Make learning memorable: Whether you use role play, game-type tasks, Q&A, or other innovative techniques, make sure you use all aspects of learning, including kinesthetic, visual, auditory, reading, and writing.

Shifting From a Performance to a Learning Focus

With so many business pressures in this uncertain world, it’s easy to get swayed to focus on performance goals and leave learning as a side activity. Nevertheless, studies show that the influence of L&D on employee perception and attitude leads to high performance.

So, focus on learning, and the rest will follow.

Moreover, as this paper on learning versus performance goals shows, employees working on performance goals have very different mindsets from those working on learning goals.

Performance goals motivate people to put into action their existing knowledge. In contrast, learning goals focus individuals and teams on discovering new and more effective ways of operating. By definition, they grow their current skills and improve existing processes.

Of course, we need both types of goals, and without learning goals, organizations miss out on people‘s unique abilities to imagine bigger and better things together for future greatness.


Setting Up the Right Environment to Leverage a Learning Culture

Incentivize: Just like with any habit, the mind needs a reward to do it. So, get creative with learning badges, points, dedicated personal budgets, and more.

Tie everyone to a vision and align to business goals: A vision gives people a common cause, and performance will further increase if you can also tie their learning goals to those of the business.

Tailor and personalize: We need to cater to everyone’s unique needs, but we also need motivational psychology’s core concept that learning must be fun. As such, focus on creating learner-driven experiences that provide autonomy and passion.

Final Thoughts on Leveraging a Culture of Learning

The more learning is integrated into an organization’s vision, processes, and metrics, the more likely learning will become a habit.

The most powerful way to keep promoting a learning culture is to make it a social experience through book clubs and mentorship programs. Such initiatives put employees in charge of their learning. They also create the passion needed to make learning part of the culture.

Then, as our speakers in the Investing in Growth session reminded us, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

About the Author

Anne Duvaux is a neuroscience leadership coach who was previously HR director focusing on leadership and development as well as coaching. In a past lifetime she was a chartered engineer and is also multilingual having lived in 9 countries and 13 cities. As an Associate Certified Coach with the ICF and almost 25 years’ experience setting up, partnering and leading teams across Europe and Asia in both corporates and early-stage companies, Anne understands how to navigate the challenges of leadership. Today, as a writer and avid reader, she continues to support people around the world with the wisdom of generations of books.

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