Building a Culture of Learning

We hear a lot from the thousands of candidates we speak to every year.  One of the top items on a candidate’s wish list is a culture of continued learning.  Recent human resources trends have even come up with a new form of this learning called symbiotic learning.  Symbiotic learning has at its core a commitment to continued learning.  The difference is that symbiotic learning focuses on a two- way exchange of information.  This means that new and current employees, senior and junior, learn from one another.  But how does an organization build a culture of learning to promote this kind of exchange of information?

Creating a Culture of Learning

Many human resources teams struggle with ways to improve company culture.  One of the easiest ways to improve this culture is by creating a culture of learning that encourages employee development.  This can be easier said than done, but there are some important tips your human resources team can do to create this kind of environment:

  • Start from the beginning. A culture of learning should be instilled in employees from the very beginning. This means during the hiring process, hiring managers can nurture a culture of learning.  Introducing candidates to this concept doesn’t need to be difficult, though.  Human resources can structure job postings to specifically attract candidates that seek a culture of learning.  While interviewing, the hiring manager can use video interviews to introduce candidates to stimulating videos that offer deeper insights into their industry and company.  The human resources department can encourage a culture of learning that persists throughout an employee’s career.
  • Introduce training into employee onboarding. Believe it or not, many businesses don’t actually train their employees when they join the company.  In many cases, onboarding ends at the signing of hiring documents and the office tour.  A great way to instill a culture of learning is to start the new employees off with opportunities to learn new skills and enhance skills they already possess.  Consider how this simple step can help build a culture of learning that helps set an employee up for success and engender good feelings about the organization.
  • Partner senior and junior employees together for mentorship.  Many junior employees are very eager to learn new skills and grow within their career.  And many senior employees have years of experience and knowledge that could be lost if they were to retire. A great way to build a culture of learning is to pair these two types of employees together.  The junior employee feels they’re gaining valuable information to propel their career. The senior employee gains satisfaction from passing on knowledge. This is a great way to also build a team and enhance the company culture.
  • Offer employees opportunities to attend classes, symposiums, and other learning opportunities. It can be difficult for employees to learn more skills when there’s so much work to be done.  But human resources can build a program that offers employees opportunities to take a day away from the office to enhance their knowledge.  Employees often value these opportunities to focus on themselves instead of the work.  One day away from the office won’t mean an employee falls way behind.  But it could mean they gain valuable skills and knowledge that increase job satisfaction and enhance their work product. These kinds of opportunities support a culture of learning that endures beyond one employee’s experience.
  • Offer tuition reimbursement. It’s no secret that a better educated workforce can help a company produce better work overall.  Many companies that offer tuition reimbursement find that their employees stay longer than employees who don’t take advantage of this benefit. Human resources can use this to build a culture of learning that strengthens the health of the company overall.

Creating a culture of learning does not have to be difficult.  And it doesn’t have to be expensive when companies have limited budgets.  Try some of the ideas listed herein and find out how creating a culture of learning can support your company today.

Photo credit: Bigstock

Culture as a Competitive Advantage

A high-performing culture starts with a culture of learning and development. I know what you are thinking: culture is complex.

I am speaking of high-performing results.

A company that sets out to entice employees with flexibility, comfort, beverage bars and all that we have seen in new culture practices will struggle for long-term success. Be prepared to feed this type of culture some cash.

I believe culture is an outcome and, by the end of this article, I will show you where to start the process. But before we get into where to start, I would like to talk to you about performance.

A great culture is an outcome of the performance you create. Some culture requires companies to change and sometimes culture means that very little changes.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe talent acquisition and rewards to be an investment in our business. I also believe that with the right environment, people will grow and reach their full potential. Employees who reach their full potential have a better chance of fulfillment.

Love So Much That You Delay Gratification

I have two boys who are a constant source of delight in my life. Their curiosity inspires me to become more every day. I love them and have a long-term view on how they develop. I can spend my time trying to please them with gifts and comforts or I can prepare them to create lasting joy. The type of joy that will allow them to get through most of the many challenges youth experience today.

Preparing them for success is most likely the best way for me to create happy children. The more I try and make them happy, the more they become dependent on external things, less prepared and frustrated.

Most people want to succeed. Help them do that and happiness will be the outcome. When people are happy, they engage.

Every Company Has a Culture

As much as we try and create culture, the bottom line comes down to how we reward people, what we allow to creep in and what we tolerate in business.

I believe people want to work on winning teams. I bet you want to be on a winning team. From my perspective, the best way to create a winning culture, a culture that creates a competitive advantage, is to win. Win for your three customers. Win for your owners, employees and customers. The path to winning is preparing and developing people to reach their full potential.

Where Do We Start?

Confidence. How do you feel when you are winning? More motivated to take on bigger challenges? More confident? More secure? The more confident we become as a result of high performance, the more innovation we bring our teams. Think about that.

Less confident people will hold back solutions, feedback and candor because they don’t want to rock the boat.

When we build confidence in others we increase our chances of success. When you have a culture of learning within your organization, you create more confident employees as a result of continual learning. People feel more prepared and therefore take on more challenges.

How Do We Create Confidence?

At our leadership summit, our keynote speaker, Patrick Morin, simplified his years of research on confidence. Morin said, “Confidence comes from one of two things. Having a plan or having results.”

If having a plan or having results creates confidence, why do so many become reckless? When people follow their plan and begin to produce results, their confidence increases. Where things get scary is when they produce a high outcome of results over a period of time and begin to neglect the plan.

You see this in companies that have long-term employees who have become overly confident because they have completed a certain level of tasks over and over. Their results are high, and their confidence is high. The trouble is they become overconfident as they neglect their plan.

Airline Pilots Stick to the Plan

They follow their plan, and the checklists keep them focused on the plan as a requirement. In this case, you have a high focus on the plan and high results, which translates into a great performance.

When organizations create a culture of learning they can create high-performing outcomes by allowing people to continue to learn. A culture of learning becomes a culture of accountability, which leads to a culture of responsibility. The outcome is a culture of performance and a culture as a competitive advantage.

I would love to hear from you. What ways are you building confidence with your teams?

About the Author: Patrick Antrim leverages a deep insight in leadership to inspire high-impact results. He is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and leadership coach, and his leadership & coaching firm,, is focused on winning in life and business

photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc