Your success as a company depends on your ability to evolve. The environment around you is changing constantly, and if you’re not able to adapt, then you’re going to be in trouble.
Encouraging workplace learning and professional development is the best way to confront these challenges. By instilling a company culture of constant self-improvement and growth, you are preparing your employees to make the kind of adjustments needed to stay alive in an increasingly dynamic and competitive world.
Additionally, when learning is something integral to your culture, people get more out of training and professional development, helping you increase your workplace training ROI. As a leader, you play a key role in helping to create this workplace culture of learning, even without trying. But here’s what you can do to actively promote it:
Solicit suggestions for professional development
When training and professional development is imposed from the top, there’s less buy-in. It becomes a chore, something people have to do. You don’t want people showing up just for the free coffee, no matter how good it is. Instead, you want them engaging and taking something from the session they’ll use to grow.
One of the ways to make this happen is to have employees determine what the training is about. Solicit suggestions and make decisions based on what’s most relevant. Then, as people see the benefit of this training, they’ll want to keep doing it, helping boost the culture of learning throughout the office.
Even though employees all do different things, there is a surprising amount of overlap across different functions, especially when dealing with things such as programs and software. To help encourage learning, you could ask employees to be the teachers.
Getting employees to see each other as resources for professional development is an effective way of encouraging workplace learning. They will no longer see training as a “big deal,” and instead will approach people from around the office whenever they have a question or need help with something. Recognizing every person as both a teacher and a student is helpful for building a culture that values learning.
Your employees are your most important resource. But if you don’t make this abundantly clear, they will notice. Challenge people to be constantly analyzing the business. It’s very easy to get absorbed in the day-to-day of our jobs and to lose sight of the big picture. Business leaders need to fight against this, encouraging employees to always look at the business through a critical lens.
During meetings, ask people what they think needs to be done better, and solicit suggestions for where improvements need to be made. Doing this in one-on-one meetings is sometimes better, as people tend to speak a little more freely in private.
But for this to work, you need to make sure you:
- Take people’s suggestions into account and use them
- Make it clear there will be no consequences for being critical
These are big hurdles to get over, as most people are not used to this, but once you get there, you’ll see a wonderful culture of growth, development and learning emerge around you.
Professional development and learning need to be more than just a once-in-a-while thing. They need to be central parts of your company culture so that you can be fully prepared to survive in an ever-changing and increasingly-competitive world. As a leader, take these tips into account and begin building a culture of workplace learning today.
About the guest author
Raj is an entrepreneur who is interested in using business to change the world. He thinks the way companies treat employees and customers helps define our relationships, and so in both his work and his writing, he likes discussing ways business leaders can help others be at their best.