The business scenario these days is so dynamic that it is keeping companies on their toes. It’s not just hard to predict where and how and which way the trends would shape up, but a static mindset can be a death knell for businesses. What one has mastered today can turn out to be totally irrelevant tomorrow. Think Kodak, Nokia or the BlackBerry phones!
The only way to stay in the race in this dynamic environment is through continuous learning.
In fact, in these times, learning and development will be a deciding factor in the success of not just businesses but employees as well.
With the business environment constantly feeling the need to reinvent and innovate at every juncture, change can happen only through the employees and not necessarily through the leadership team as always.
For employees to be able to innovate and reinvent, they need to unlearn the old stuff and learn the new regularly. Critical thinking has to be encouraged and inculcated within the team. In order to stay relevant and remain in the race, companies will have to create a culture of continuous learning within them.
For every business, the challenge is always the projects in hand and the deadline to deliver. But this will only sustain them. If they have to grow, companies will have to encourage employees to look beyond and inculcate a learning habit. There has to be an open – mindset and an independent quest for knowledge.
A report by Deloitte suggests that companies with a continuous learning culture, experience 37 per cent higher productivity and 92 per cent of them are more likely to innovate.
Now the big question is, ‘How is a culture of continuous learning cultivated in a company?’ Should it have a top-down approach or the other way around? Should it be through classroom learning, online learning, or just shared learning?
Engaging employees in ongoing learning pays big dividends—including enhanced on-the-job performance and talent retention. But fostering such engagement isn’t easy. How can organisations meet the engagement imperative? Read this whitepaper Learning and Development for All: Making the Most of Your Modern Workforce to know.
The best way to practice continuous learning in a company is through a flow of work. This way people enhance their skillset and abilities proactively instead of being guided by a specific programme, wherein learning is not voluntary and the outcome is half-baked.
Similarly, when continuous learning is pushed from the top, it can create an environment of resilience. This may cause friction as well as fear because employees shy away from getting out of their comfort zones.
What leaders should do is turn themselves into lifelong learners, and that will motivate all employees in the organisation to follow suit. Everyone wants some personal benefits from the learning, and hence organisations’ and employees’ objectives need to be aligned – only then can success be achieved.
Next, organisations need to promote shared learning among employees. Peer to peer learning has traditionally proved to be the best way. The task in hand for the learning function is to help people get comfortable with the process so that there is a free flow of information, sharing of tips, insights and also praise for one another.
All employees are good at something. If a company creates a peer-to-peer coaching ecosystem, it will allow people to share their expertise and benefit others.
It is also important for employees to create a review system on learning. Companies can put in place a learning review system, similar to a performance review system. This will help the employees set goals and that will promote a learning culture in the organisation. One thing that companies need to ensure is that the learning review has to be transparent, realistic and achievable, else it may backfire.
The other important aspect of promoting continuous learning in an organisation is that learning is a democratic process and it’s not the sole responsibility of the learning managers to single-handedly drive the culture of learning. They can be the facilitators, but both the leadership and the employees have to play a proactive role.