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Mentoring: Are You Building a Culture of Connection and Growth?

Sponsored by Together

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mentoring is a key to the future of work. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a fact. I’ve been beating the mentorship drum for over a decade. Yet, I’ve never been as confident about it as I am today. And I hope employers are listening. Why?

The Business Case for Mentoring

All the signs point to mentorship as one of the most powerful ways to navigate increasingly turbulent workplace waters. Here are just a few proof points:

  • Pandemic-era job disruption has created knowledge and skill gaps across many organizations.
  • Even before the pandemic, average job tenure was shrinking among all age groups.
  • Managers and senior-level leaders are moving on and opting out at a record pace.
  • Younger people are looking for more guidance and support as they enter the workforce.
  • Demand for future-ready employees is intensifying as organizations continue to invest in new technologies.
  • The average half-life of skills continues to decline.
  • Many employers are still struggling to find qualified talent for critical open roles.

With 84% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies already offering mentoring programs, this seems like the right time to double down on that strategy. Why? Consider these research findings:

  • 90% of employees with a mentor say they’re happy at work.
  • 75% of executives give mentors credit for their success.
  • People with mentors are significantly less likely to consider quitting. This includes managers, senior managers, vice presidents, and individual contributors.
  • Among millennials, 68% who stay onboard for 5 or more years have a mentor, compared with 32% who don’t.
  • In fact, one Wharton-led study found much higher retention among mentees (72%) and mentors (69%) than among those who did not participate in these programs (49%).

But here’s the kicker: While 76% of people say mentors are important, only 37% actually have one. Is your organization facing this issue? You may be able to bridge the gap more easily than you think. For helpful ideas, read on…

Advice for Mentoring Program Success

Let’s start by clarifying a key point. Mentoring, alone, is not the answer. Organizations really need to aim higher by developing a culture of learning. However, one of the most effective ways to foster this kind of environment is through mentoring in all its forms.

So where should employers start to establish or enhance mentorships? One of the smartest sources I know is Matt Reeves. Matt is CEO of Together Software, a platform that helps companies run best-in-class mentoring programs. Early in 2022, Matt joined me to discuss mentoring strategies on our #WorkTrends podcast. To hear his advice, listen to this encore version of our conversation and read the show notes below…

How Mentoring Works

1. Defining Mentorship

So tell us, Matt, what does mentoring look like to you?

In its traditional sense, mentoring is based on pairing two colleagues for career development and professional guidance. Usually, this involves a more junior employee who’s the mentee with a more senior employee who’s the mentor. And typically, they meet on a particular cadence, like once a month for a year or even more.

2. Evolving Trends

How are mentorship programs changing?

We’ve seen companies break the mold and experiment with various types of  programs. But the common thread is that they help employees learn from their colleagues through relationship-building and ongoing conversations.

3. Mentorship Variations

What are some of the different flavors you’re seeing in mentorship programs?

The classic approach is one-on-one, where a more senior person mentors a more junior person for a specific period.

However, peer-to-peer programs are increasingly popular. Also, we’re seeing more reverse programs, where a more junior-level person who is experienced in a particular topic mentors a more senior employee.

In addition, many organizations are successfully breaking the mold with the duration of these relationships and in offering participants more flexibility.

4. Benefits of Mentoring

It may seem obvious why mentees are attracted to these relationships. But it helps mentors, too. In fact, more than 90% of professionals who’ve mentored young people say it has helped them become better leaders or managers…

Yes. It’s probably easy to understand why a mentee would want to participate — to learn, develop, and progress in their career. But mentors benefit, as well.

Senior-level people are expected to develop others and carry their organization’s culture forward, and mentoring is an opportunity to visibly demonstrate this. Also, as people move up in an organization, they’ve probably experienced some mentoring (or wish they had a mentor). So this is a way to give back.

5. How Technology Enhances the Mentoring Experience 

What role can technology play in bringing people together and keeping them connected?

Technology significantly reduces the workload for program administrators, while significantly improving the mentoring experience for participants.

For example, when a program is managed manually, making a strong mentee/mentor match can take a long time. When you’re eager to move forward, it can be frustrating to wait for weeks or even months for a suitable match. You may even be matched with a mentor who has left the organization. This is easily avoidable when you use technology.

In addition, technology can help you scale a program much more efficiently, and keep people connected with reminders and feedback that helps them stay on-track and helps you tweak your program.

Tips for Modern Mentorship Programs

What else should you keep in mind if you want to achieve strong mentoring results, especially in today’s hybrid work environments? When building a game plan, keep these considerations in mind:

1. Assess Your Current State as a Baseline

With or without a formal program in place, mentoring is probably already happening all over your company. It often occurs organically, the same way culture exists, with or without intentional leadership involvement.

So start with a broad-reaching reality check. Research and evaluate the various ways people share knowledge, skills, and experience, and assist others professionally. What seems to be most effective? Can you leverage these methods? Alternatively, what isn’t working well? Does it make sense to provide additional resources that can reinforce, enhance, and expand what’s already in place?

2. Clarify and Communicate the Purpose

When people understand why mentoring is important to your company, they’re more likely to sign up and take responsibility for their role in its success. But there are many ways to frame mentoring initiatives. What goals do you want to accomplish? How closely do your objectives align with your organization’s values? What would success look like for your company and for participants? For example:

  • To improve retention among new hires, incorporating mentoring into the onboarding process can provide a stronger start.
  • If employees from underrepresented groups lack a sense of inclusion and belonging, “bridge mentorships” could help you move the DEI meter.
  • Or if you need to build bench depth, peer-to-peer cross-functional skills mentoring could be a solution.

The possibilities are endless. But no matter what your agenda is, you’ll need top-down support. How committed are your senior-level executives to mentoring? How willing are they to make mentoring participation a leadership priority? What can you do to demonstrate the power of mentoring from cases within your organization or among competitors? What kind of budget and other resources will be required to achieve these goals? Engage senior leadership early in discussions that address these questions.

3. Focus on Learning and Holistic Growth

Although cohort-based social learning is a popular trend — especially in remote and hybrid work environments — one-on-one relationships can drive deeper personal growth and enrichment. Encouraging people to form stronger direct bonds opens the door to a more holistic approach, where participants can connect as individuals and grow, even outside of their professional roles.

Also, keep in mind that the most enriching approach to mentoring isn’t about “teaching” per se. Classic mentoring models emphasize a one-way flow of information, guidance, and access. However, modern mentoring relationships are often a two-way street, where both sides actively aim to learn and grow together, even if their roles and experience levels are not comparable.

4. Provide Structure Along With Flexibility

When matching a pair of participants, you’ll want to formalize expectations in a way that respects the time and effort required to establish and sustain a productive relationship.

It helps to specify basic parameters, such as the minimum mentorship duration (for example, 1 year), and minimum activity frequency (for example 1 meeting a month). However, beyond these parameters, individuals often find it helpful to negotiate their unique goals. Both sides can use this agreement as a discovery tool and as a reference point throughout the relationship.

In addition, you’ll want to encourage consistency with a reasonable ongoing communication cadence. Flexibility is key, here. Mentoring isn’t a full-time job, relationships take time to develop, and informal interactions don’t need to be regimented. However, if participants agree upfront to a minimum pace (such as 1 digital check-in a week), this can help keep the relationship top-of-mind.

5. Measure and Adjust

This may seem obvious, but unless you quantify your mentorship program’s performance, you won’t know if your organization is moving in the right direction. Ideally, you’ll establish success metrics that tie to program objectives even before you start to match participants.

However, once you launch the program, you’ll want to monitor progress regularly by measuring key performance indicators. For example, if you want to build workforce competencies in a particular set of skills, you’ll want to track active mentors and mentees for each of the skills you’re targeting. If you don’t have enough experienced mentors to fulfill mentee demand, you’ll want to recruit more mentors who are qualified in these areas. (Or you may decide to address the demand with another type of skill development intervention.)

Also, plan to seek feedback from participants periodically. Pulse surveys can help you gauge sentiment about the program and identify weaknesses that need attention. At the same time, keep in mind that mentoring is a long-term commitment. Over time, business priorities will shift. To stay ahead of the curve, you’ll want to build periodic program review cycles into the management process, so you can adjust accordingly as goals and needs change.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more in-depth information about how to structure and manage a successful mentoring program, visit the Together Platform website, where you’ll find all sorts of helpful resources for employers. And for more #WorkTrends insights, check our growing collection of episodes at Apple or Spotify and subscribe!

 

Learning Culture: Ideas for Nurturing Growth in a Hybrid Work Environment

TalentCulture Content Impact Award Winner - 2023
At what point in a career does learning stop? Hopefully, never! Most business and technical professionals realize that becoming proficient in a job and becoming more capable over time requires continuous learning. But this can be difficult for employers to support, particularly in a hybrid work environment. Here’s why…

The Business Challenge

According to research, 70% of employees feel inadequately trained for their current job. What’s more, 74% feel they could benefit from additional training. Yet, the U.S. economy loses an estimated $550 billion a year from workforce disengagement, due in part to a lack of learning opportunities.

Training is critical for employee retention. And retention is critical for organizational success, especially in difficult economic times when companies need to accomplish more with less. But in the wake of the pandemic, hybrid work is becoming more widespread, which further complicates employee development. It’s no longer enough to rely on classic learning strategies based on in-person classroom training, seminars, and conferences.

Although hybrid work creates new challenges for employee training, it also opens the door to fresh thinking. Effective training in a hybrid work environment requires an organization-wide learning culture that ensures equitable opportunities for in-person, remote, and hybrid workers, alike. That’s a tall order, but these ideas can help:

What is a Learning Culture?

“Learning culture” is a simple concept. It’s an understanding that professional growth and development are integral to daily work life and success. It’s also an active commitment to continuous improvement among individuals and teams within an organization.

A strong learning culture encourages and rewards people for developing and sharing knowledge and skills. That’s why employee training is often seen as a benefit, alongside retirement savings accounts, paid family leave, or medical and dental coverage. But a true learning culture isn’t just a perk. It’s a way of thinking and doing that enhances work experiences, while paving the way for future advancement.

This commitment is clearly good for employees — but it’s also good for business. In fact, statistics show that organizations with a strong learning culture enjoy 24% higher profit margins, on average. Also successful companies are nearly 5x more likely to have a healthy learning culture. So it’s worth the effort to improve the way your organization develops employee capabilities.

Despite the simplicity of this concept, a learning culture can be difficult to manage. In fact, ATD estimates that only 31% of organizations have a culture of learning. And now, as hybrid work environments take hold, fostering this kind of culture is becoming even tougher. Why?

The Social Learning Hurdle

Hybrid work complicates learning cultures because it introduces a different mode of remote engagement. This is a problem because many organizations still rely on more traditional methods of informal learning — what psychologist Albert Bandura called “social learning.” Specifically, he notes:

“Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling. From observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed. This coded information serves as a guide for action.”

In other words, we learn how to do our jobs largely by watching others perform similar tasks. As we watch, we pay attention to their expectations and responses, as well as the behaviors of others in our environment.

This is relatively easy to accomplish when people are located at the same place. But when work involves a mix of in-person, remote and hybrid experiences, social learning manifests itself in different ways. This can create problems — especially when our location is determined by factors like commute distance or personal preference, rather than our work role. Ultimately, these unpredictable work patterns can lead to social learning barriers and disconnects across an organization.

To attract and retain top talent, employers need to create a cohesive culture that overcomes these barriers by making continuous learning opportunities and reinforcement available wherever people are located.

Training Resources For Hybrid Work Settings

Bandura was clearly on to something with his social learning theory. Humans are social animals. We learn best from exposure to great teachers, whether they’re formal instructors, informal mentors, or peers. Keep this in mind when developing a training strategy for any hybrid environment. You don’t want to sacrifice the power of human interaction by focusing solely on classic modes of online learning, like asynchronous self-guided training modules. Otherwise you risk disconnecting people from one another.

Where should you focus instead? Hybrid is the keyword here. Invest in next-generation training experiences that bring in-office and remote workers together, with social learning as the glue. For example, consider these resources:

1. e-Learning platforms that support instructor-led breakout sessions, advanced gamification functionality, and in-training assessment and analysis. These capabilities support richer social experiences than isolated on-demand training modules.

2. VR and metaverse technologies that make it possible to create three-dimensional virtual spaces where social learning participants can engage within a shared digital environment.

3. Tools that enhance popular web meeting tools. For example, the Adobe Connect open architecture lets industry partners extend the platform’s core capabilities. Extensions include custom pods, learning management system integration, advanced authentication, login functionality, and much more.

4. Discussion and collaboration tools that function as standalone products or as features you can integrate into a learning management system.

5. Social tools that work within a digital learning environment to supplement and reinforce traditional onsite and online training. For example, Adobe Learning Manager offers built-in social learning tools that make it easy to informally share ideas, content and meaningful insights before, during or after people complete a course.

Supporting Learning Engagement in a Hybrid Work Environment

Of course, identifying helpful hybrid learning tools is one thing, but providing a culture that drives engagement and performance improvement is another. Here are some useful ideas:

1. Proactively encourage all team members to pursue learning opportunities on a regular basis. For example, allocate a particular number of hours each week to the pursuit of development goals. By making resources accessible across devices, platforms and locations, you can enable people to participate at their convenience.

2. Acknowledge and reward team members for the time and energy they invest in learning. This can take the form of financial incentives or team dinners. Even something as simple as a Slack shout-out can boost motivation when employees achieve development milestones.

3. Knowledge sharing is essential for a healthy learning culture. And when team members are rewarded for sharing knowledge, they become more invested in the learning process. So don’t overlook the deep expertise already available within your ranks. Think about how to empower individuals as subject matter experts. Establish methods for people to create, promote and recommend content, so you can get everyone more invested in collaborative learning, even across hybrid teams.

4. Measurement matters in any learning endeavor, so you can determine baseline benchmarks and track progress over time. Digital systems can automatically track training engagement, progress and completions. But you’ll want to track other metrics as well. For example, think ahead about the kind of feedback you want to gather from team discussions, post-learning quizzes, and organization-wide surveys. All of these can help you determine learning effectiveness and map the way forward.

5. Better culture starts with better conversations — especially in a hybrid work environment. That means open feedback channels are essential. What works? What doesn’t? How can your organization improve hybrid learning experiences? Be sure to involve team members in the process of planning, evaluating and evolving their learning journey, for more successful outcomes, all around.

When You Train Employees, Do You Also Boost Retention?

Sponsored by FranklinCovey

If you’re involved in hiring or managing people, no one needs to tell you that competition for top talent is incredibly fierce. And keeping teams engaged and motivated is getting more difficult all the time. That’s why it pays to be especially thoughtful and strategic about how you train employees.

This isn’t just my opinion. It’s the conclusion of organizations like SHRM, which found that employees are 76% more likely to stay onboard when their organization has a dedicated process to support workforce learning and growth. Similarly, Deloitte estimates that retention is 30-50% higher among companies with a strong learning culture.

But this begs the question — exactly how can you build and sustain a learning environment that engages people so they want to stay onboard and advance your agenda? That’s the topic we’re exploring today with a brilliant business leader who is also a recognized expert in learning and development…

Meet Our Guest:  Paul Walker

I’m honored to welcome Paul Walker, President and CEO at FranklinCovey! As the company’s chief strategist and operational leader, Paul is committed to transforming organizations and enabling greatness. He actually started his career at FranklinCovey 22 years ago, and has grown and adapted along with the company. So clearly, he knows first-hand how learning and development can help retain top talent. Please join us as we explore this topic:

Connecting Learning With Retention
Welcome, Paul! Let’s dive right in. How is training tied to workforce retention?

Our work with clients and research from others tell us that training is integral to retention for several reasons:

  1. When you train employees, they feel valued because you’re investing in them. And the more valued people feel, the more likely they are to stay.
  2. It helps people perform better. We all want to do our best work everyday. If we need skills to do that, and our employer is helping us acquire those capabilities, it not only helps us do better today, but may also prepare us for something exciting in the future. Again, we feel valued.

How to Train Employees Effectively
What do people really want from work-related training?

There are probably more factors, but over and over again we see employees focusing on these things:

  1. Is it easy for me to access, so I can get the most out of it?
  2. How well does it fit into the flow of my daily work life?
  3. How relevant is it now, and will it prepare me for where I want to be in the future?
  4. Is it useful? Does it actually help me perform better?
How Can You Train Employees for Retention? Join us for a live #WorkTrends Twitter Chat - Wednesday, March 29th - 1:30-2:00pm ET. Follow @TalentCulture on Twitter for questions - and add the #WorkTrends hashtag to your tweets so others can see your comments and interact with you!

JOIN US ON TWITTER!

Choose Learning Metrics That Matter

Retention is important, but what other KPIs should we consider?

When we want to train employees, we need to be sure we’re not just advocating for retention or other objectives that may feel a bit soft to people who make budgetary and strategic decisions. These leaders don’t necessarily see how learning supports what they want to accomplish.

Instead, we need to focus on how learning improves the quality of the team’s results. That’s crucial to the organization’s performance.

We need to talk in the language Deloitte used in its research that says:

  • 92% of companies with more intentional, sophisticated learning develop more novel products and processes,
  • 56% are often first-to-market with products and services,
  • 52% are measurably more productive, and
  • 17% are more profitable.

Make It a Leadership Priority to Train Employees

Absolutely. There’s value here, and our KPIs should reflect that…

I would also say the best organizations have figured out how to ignite a passion for employee learning in their leaders. In other words, people development is a key leadership expectation, and leaders want to be involved in helping their people grow and develop. It’s not just the responsibility of HR or L&D…


For more insights from Paul about how to train employees for retention, listen to this full podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

In addition, we invite you to join our live Twitter chat about this topic on Wednesday, March 29th from 1:30-2:00pm ET. Follow us at @TalentCulture for questions and be sure to add the #WorkTrends hashtag to your tweets, so others in the community can easily find your comments and interact with you!

Also, to continue this conversation on social media anytime, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

9 Strategic Learning Moves to Prepare for the Future of Work

In HR circles, we talk a lot about employee development. Often, we focus on its role in improving workforce engagement and retention. But strategic learning is about much more than that.

No question, when employees have an opportunity to add new work skills to their portfolio, they become more motivated and involved in their professional growth. It may well spark a desire to stick around, earn a certificate, and aim for further advancement.

Research certainly supports this assumption. For instance, 76% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training, according to a recent survey by TalentLMS and The Society for Human Resource Management. But these days, we need to recognize the power of learning and development as a strategic business move.

The Value of Strategic Learning

Certainly, employees need the right knowledge and skills to perform well in their current roles. But are you preparing them for tomorrow? Strategic learning looks ahead and introduces new practices, approaches, technologies, and solutions that will drive business success, going forward.

The future of work is unquestionably complex. It will be transformed by automation and furthered by machine learning and AI. If people don’t have the means to evolve and expand their capabilities, we’ll all be held back as the workplace enters uncharted territory.

More Than Just New Skills

Effective learning and development is not just about helping employees acquire new skills. It’s also about embracing learning as a strategic imperative. Over the years, I’ve discussed the importance of this perspective with numerous experts. In particular, one previous conversation stands out.

In 2020, I invited Dickens Aubourg to join me for a #WorkTrends podcast interview. Dickens is a learning and development expert who, at the time, was Director of Client Learning at Paycom:

9 Ways to Elevate Your Learning Agenda

In this interview, we explored Dickens’ perspective on strategic learning — and the 9 points we covered still resonate:

1. Treat employee training as a key business strategy that integrates retraining, reskilling, and upskilling. Ultimately, the goal should be to gain and sustain a competitive advantage through workforce readiness, competence and innovation.

2. In most organizations, learning and development isn’t sufficiently supported. Nor is it defined correctly. Learning isn’t an isolated act of class attendance or content consumption. It’s actually part of the daily employee experience. A mix of ongoing formal and informal learning is essential for effective professional development and performance support — including opportunities for social and collaborative learning.

3. We need to value informal learning for bringing context and relevance to work. It’s a way to improve connection and collaboration within teams and across the workforce, in general.

4. Quantifying and recognizing both formal and informal learning creates experiences that help leaders drive meaningful business impact and results.

5. The shift to remote and hybrid work enables organizations to more easily develop people from within. This is critical in modern work environments.

6. HR products and platforms that focus on learning will be an increasingly important component of the HR tech ecosystem. We won’t be separating learning from other people functions, nor should we.

7. It’s important to remember that, while training is not the only form of learning, it is central to employee development. Training on new tools and processes can be woven into an overall learning program that offers other development opportunities, giving employees a sense of growth and accomplishment, as well as the potential to reach new horizons.

8. Leaders will benefit from a better understanding of upskilling. The best way to do that? Start upskilling high-level managers and others in leadership positions. Ask them to identify gaps in their capabilities and offer pathways for professional growth. Targeting only lower-level employees for upskilling isn’t fair, and it’s actually short-sighted.

9. Continuous learning breeds a more nimble, agile workforce, which is what the new world of work requires. Organizations are constantly incorporating new technology and tools. We saw it during the pandemic, but it’s accelerating now. Individuals and teams must keep pace. A culture of learning supports this.

Top Takeaway: Strategic Learning is About Optimism

Employers can no longer afford to hold back on training, development, educational resources, and a commitment to workforce learning. Not only does strategic learning contribute to HR goals, but it also is essential in helping organizations achieve key business objectives. So, for individuals and employers, alike, this means learning is an act of optimism.

I’ve witnessed this firsthand recently at partner companies that are turning to new approaches and processes for growth and improvement. And as a result, they’re thriving.

So here’s the lesson: Tapping into everyone’s potential for growth is not just wishful thinking. It’s an opportunity to strengthen the employee experience and improve performance, while advancing your business agenda. The sum total? We all win.

How to Build a Learning Culture From the Ground Up

The great resignation, the rise of hybrid work, and the fear of recession are making one thing certain — today’s talent must be agile and adapt quickly. A culture of learning is vital now because it helps organizations thrive when moving through change. But this kind of culture doesn’t happen spontaneously. It requires intentional effort. This article offers guidance for leaders who need to build a culture of learning that will stand the test of time.

What is a Learning Culture?

Culture is the combination of beliefs and values that drive organizational behavior. In other words, “how stuff gets done around here.” When you center beliefs and values on behaviors that encourage continuous growth and development, you can create a foundation for ongoing innovation and improvement.

A strong learning culture encourages and rewards both individual and organizational growth. It takes time and dedication to build a learning culture, but the outcomes can be transformational. What else does this process require? Focus on these factors:

8 Steps to Build a Learning Culture

1. Plan Effectively

Start by assessing your organization’s recruiting and hiring practices to be sure you’re attracting talent with a growth mindset. This should include a careful analysis of your onboarding process. Do you emphasize the importance of learning? Onboarding often focuses on what employees need to learn. But new employees also need to know who they should learn from and with.

Also, examine your approach to upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling current employees. This will give you better insight into how prepared your organization is to support future needs. 

Use these findings to plan for retention. Keeping employees onboard is critical now. According to The New York Times, “The rise in turnover since the pandemic started has a cost in productivity: It’s taking longer to get stuff out the door.”

Meanwhile, the talent pool remains limited. Currently, for every person seeking a job, 1.7  positions are available. In today’s competitive environment, employers can’t afford to lose top talent. And one of the most powerful ways to keep people committed is through a culture that supports learning and growth.

In a recent report about what we call Work 3.0, we explain how some talent models are more effective than others at achieving these outcomes. For example, organizations with remote and hybrid work models must be careful to ensure that learning opportunities are inclusive and equitable.

Smart leaders rely on the planning process to guide their decisions about learning priorities. This includes careful data gathering and analysis to verify the organization’s current state, define its future goals, and establish a strategic roadmap to bridge this gap. 

2. Ensure a Receptive Environment

Successful learning cultures begin with psychological safety. In a workplace where this is high, people feel comfortable asking questions, voicing their opinions, and taking responsibility for their mistakes.

In fact, after studying nearly 300 leaders over 2.5 years, we found that teams with high degrees of psychological safety had higher performance outcomes and lower interpersonal conflict. This kind of environment encourages employees to learn more fully from their mistakes and from one another.

3. Align Learning With Business Imperatives

What matters most to your organization? This should inform your culture. The most effective learning strategies align with business priorities. Alignment helps scale learning while keeping it relevant, meaningful, and applicable.

Environments that welcome open, honest discussions (including respectful disagreements) are more likely to align learning with the organization’s vision, mission, and goals.

You’ll want to emphasize opportunities to develop mindsets and behaviors that move your agenda forward. This should include incentives and rewards for employees who embrace desired growth.

4. Model the Change You Want to See

It’s essential to recognize continuous learning as a key to better business results. Because culture is shaped by leadership behavior, it’s critical to exhibit the actions you want to see in others. Leaders who exhibit an interest in learning and in rewarding others for their growth will inspire employees to focus on these activities.

Leaders play a significant role here by communicating expectations and modeling behaviors they want to see. For example, it’s important to regularly express curiosity, offer feedback, admit mistakes, and share knowledge.

Effective communication and storytelling by leaders can also help your workforce understand what’s expected and why it’s important for everyone in your culture. This includes engaging in authentic conversations, sharing personal learning experiences, and proactively seeking feedback.

5. Integrate Accessibility Into the Process

It’s vital to scale development opportunities so learning is accessible to everyone, not just high-potential individuals. This is particularly important in today’s environment, where employees don’t necessarily work onsite in a central location.

To improve accessibility, offer development through a variety of modalities. This can include a mix of formal in-person training, virtual courses, asynchronous informal learning, micro-learning, experiential learning, self-paced e-learning content, as well as social and collaborative learning options.

Offering a library of resources can also help keep workforce knowledge and skills up-to-date. For example, you can provide resources such as books, articles, podcasts, and videos through a central digital repository.

A learning management system (LMS) or learning experience platform (LXP) with enterprise licensing can help you scale this kind of learning content. This also makes it possible to track consumption and tie learning to individual and team performance.

6. Invest in the Right Tools and Support

A strong learning culture naturally emerges when development becomes integrated into daily work habits. Leaders can play an important role here, by regularly encouraging staff to devote sufficient time to absorb, practice, share, and apply whatever they learn.

One standard is based on the 70-20-10 rule: This approach suggests that 70% of learning comes from working through challenging assignments and experiences, while 20% comes from developmental relationships, and 10% from formal training and coursework. The process is reinforced when employees take time to reflect on their learning endeavors. You can support this reinforcement phase through mentoring as well as “reverse mentoring.

7. Customize Appropriately

Today’s employees — especially those in remote and hybrid work settings — prefer development opportunities tailored to their needs. When considering how to elevate your learning culture, be sure to ask employees what they want to learn and how they prefer to engage in learning. Then consider how to provide “core” learning opportunities for all, combined with various options that any individual can pursue. 

Ideally, a customized approach delivers learning experiences that address each employee’s unique needs and interests over time. Research shows that offering various delivery methods tends to boost learner engagement and knowledge retention. Ultimately, that can improve job performance, satisfaction, and commitment.

8. Measure Effectively

Finally, plan to measure your progress and use that intelligence to improve on a continuous basis. 

Formal evaluations can help you track trends, learn from the data, and adjust accordingly. Less formal options, such as the agile review methodology of, “Liked, Lacked, Learned, Longed For” can give you immediate feedback while also changing mindsets.

Strive to make after-action reviews a natural part of work routines. Regularly ask for feedback and use pulse surveys. Also, don’t forget to establish metrics that help you determine how well leaders are advancing the overall learning agenda.

Conclusion

When you build a learning culture, you’ll see how all of these elements are interconnected. If the atmosphere is hostile or complacent, or if content isn’t accessible to all, your mission is likely to fail. If you don’t understand your objectives, measuring progress will be impossible.

Recognize that changing any aspect of an organization’s culture is easier said than done. Progress takes time, patience, support, and persistence — especially from leaders and managers. To secure buy-in, tie improvement metrics to each leader’s performance objectives. Also, to keep learning top-of-mind, publicly celebrate early wins, and keep the cadence rolling.

Eventually, any organization can lead with learning. But it won’t happen until you invest in thoughtful planning and consistent implementation. Remember, it’s a process.

Going Social: Learning In Action #TChat Recap

“Learning is more effective when it is active rather than a passive process.”
– Euripides

One of the most active learning environments I know is #TChat.

In fact, sometimes it’s truly hyper-active, as the TalentCulture community meets on the Twitter stream to exchange ideas about the world of work. That’s certainly how it felt this week, as we gathered to celebrate three years of #TChat events and continuous online knowledge sharing.

It was fitting that our conversation focused on social learning. And it was equally fitting to welcome an HR executive who’s responsible for (among many other things) leveraging social tools and techniques to foster learning across her fast-paced, global organization.

Our guest this week was Ambrosia Humphrey, VP of Talent at HootSuite. And the insights she shared on #TChat Radio are instructive for any organization striving to elevate its learning culture.

(Editor’s Note: See full event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

Social Workplace: Learning Everywhere

As social media weaves itself deeper into daily life, organizations are searching for effective ways to blend social behaviors with learning methodology. There are good reasons for all the interest.

Social channels remove the hierarchy found in most organizations. With traditional roles de-emphasized, everyone has more freedom to contribute, interact, experiment and develop personally and professionally. It’s collaboration at its best. When organizations channel this collective energy, there’s great potential to boost innovation and business performance.

However, many companies are still only testing the waters in their cultural commitment to social learning. Twitter chats such as #TChat provide a low-risk model outside organizational walls; bringing together experts and talent-minded professionals to discuss today’s workplace — what works, what doesn’t, and how to address key issues.

#TChat: Social Learning Slice Of Life

As #TChat proves, social tools and techniques are an attractive way to develop and sustain learning communities. The immediacy, flexibility and availability of social media make it possible for people with common interests to connect and contribute easily in real-time, from all corners of the globe.

Imagine the possibilities when this approach is applied within organizations! Employees feel more appreciated and valued for their input. Engagement increases. And employers signal a commitment to employee development and growth. It’s a win-win. Companies gain a more engaged, productive workforce, and in turn, employees are challenged and become more competent.

This is why I look forward to many more wonderful years for #TChat and TalentCulture — an open, ongoing learning environment that is helping us all shape the world of work for the better!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Online Communities and Professional Growth

Kevin Grossman Tim McDonald TChat (2)

Watch the #TChat hangout now

SAT 11/16:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Editorial Director, Kathleen Kruse framed this week’s topic in a post that features a special 3rd Anniversary #TChat hangout video with co-founder, Kevin W. Grossman. Read the Preview: “We’re Turning Three! Let’s Celebrate Community.”

SUN 11/17:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro looked at 7 ways leaders can foster a high-octane social workplace culture. Read: “7 Characteristics of a Social Leader.”

MON 11/18 — THU 11/21

Related Posts:
Read: “What Drives Social Influence? Insights From Recruiting Circles” by Carter Hostelley
Read: “#TChat Road Trip: Going to the Next Level Together” by Meghan M. Biro
Read: “Community Heart + Soul: #TChat Favorites” by Kevin W. Grossman

WED 11/20:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guest Ambrosia Humphrey , VP HR at HootSuite, about why and how organizations benefit by committing to social learning initiatives. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and team Hootsuite joined the entire TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as I moderated an open conversation that centered on 5 related questions. For highlights, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: The Growth of Online Learning

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Ambrosia Humphrey for sharing your perspectives on social learning and organizational culture. We value your time, enthusiasm and expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about social learning in the workplace? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, #TChat Events go quiet, as we celebrate the Thanksgiving week in the U.S. However, we’ll be back on December 4th, with a special double-header, featuring two of our community’s most beloved HR experts, Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers! Look for more details next weekend.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream,  our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and we look forward to hearing from you.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng