If you were to look around your organization today, how would you describe your learning culture? Vibrant and healthy? Or dull and lacking? If you fall somewhere in between, what steps are you taking to improve your learning culture? Better yet, have you made it a priority? You must get a pulse on your learning environment and work to improve it if you want a healthy workplace. It’s an effort that everyone in the organization is responsible for, from C-suite to middle managers and frontline employees.
If you are serious about boosting learning in the workplace, here are four ways to help you take it to the next level.
Align Business Goals with Learning Objectives
Is your organization guilty of launching learning and development solutions without a verified reason? If so, it’s time to take a step back and start aligning your business goals with your learning objectives. Let your business goals be your guide, not the latest trend or what you think your employees want. Assess your environment and perform a needs analysis to ensure employees have the right skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform their job to carry out the business goals. If they don’t have what they need, fill in the gaps by providing the necessary learning and development initiatives. By connecting the dots, you will be able to select the learning solutions that make the most sense for your organization and the development of your employees.
Brand Your Learning & Development
Take a page from the professionals in the marketing industry and brand your learning and development. It builds excitement and simply lets the world know who you are and why you do what you do. Your brand is reflected in your mission statement and values, and even how you treat your employees and clients. From a physical perspective, it is expressed through your logo, motto, color selection, and other visuals.
To truly boost L&D in your workplace culture, however, you must focus on doing the following: planning, producing and promoting. You will need to spend time planning your branding strategy for your L&D department such as outlining goals and objectives for your audience, communication tactics, deadlines and activities that will take place before the actual rollout, and identifying other departments to provide additional support if necessary (i.e. Marketing, Operations, Legal, etc.). Next, you and your team will need to spend time producing marketing materials to promote your L&D. You can use rapid design and slide share programs to create infographics, webinars, and social media posts to educate your employees about your opportunities (i.e. conferences, programs, online courses, etc). You can highlight course expectations, learning objectives, and showcase some of the actual content.
Lastly, you will need to promote your learning and development initiatives across the organization. This means crafting consistent messaging in the form of emails, e-newsletters, social media, bulletin boards, and customized cards, to promote your L&D, in the same manner, you would for a company-based event. The most important aspect is showing your employees how the successful and worthwhile L&D is, and this can be done by providing proof. To win over the non-believers, start sharing success stories in the form of testimonials, interviews, and videos from employees who have benefitted from your learning and development opportunities. You could start by highlighting individuals who have moved into new roles, exceeded performance goals due to their training or designed a solution to solve a company problem to save money. The more you build excitement and credibility around your L&D, the more you are likely to get buy-in from your employees and reinforce your business case to the C-suite.
Ask Your Employees
Tap into the minds of your employees and get their feedback on your learning culture. You might be surprised by what they have to say. You might discover that some employees are interested in helping your team design learning or co-facilitate training sessions. You won’t know until you ask. You can even use your employees as a sounding board for testing new platforms and tools. Arrange weekly or monthly meetings to check in with your staff and get their opinions on the L&D opportunities currently provided. One of the best ways to unite employees for feedback is to form an advisory board of volunteers who are enthusiastic about your learning and want to help shape your new initiatives. You will be able to brainstorm, connect, and design a shared vision for your culture.
Use a Blended Learning Approach
While each situation calls for a specific delivery method depending on learner needs, tapping into blended learning is an excellent way to appeal to multiple learning styles and keep learning fun and effective. Try combining traditional classroom training with eLearning to boost interactivity. Mix infographics with bite-size videos for on-the-job training and tap into webinars to transfer knowledge and keep employees up to date on information. Add quizzes, polls, and discussion rooms to your webinars to stimulate engagement and keep your learners interested. By using a blended approach, you have the power to boost your learning even more. When designing your content, ask your employees what their hobbies and interests are and find ways to weave this information into your learning. Create relevant examples that provoke thought and appeal to your audience. Employees will appreciate timely and real-world examples based on their own experiences and passions.
Creating a strong learning and development culture takes hard work, patience, and persistence. To make it work, you must focus on promoting seven principles: continuous assessment, strategic planning, open communication, creativity, teamwork, reflection, and adaptability. Connect with your team and document what works and what doesn’t. Don’t get overly consumed or disappointed in any setbacks. Make a plan and start small. Remember, it’s not where you start, but where you finish. So take the plunge and start boosting your learning culture today.
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Janelle Howell is the Founder & CEO of Training by Nelle LLC, a training provider and consultancy that partners with small businesses, government agencies, and corporate clients to produce competent and confident leaders through innovative training and management solutions. Learn more at: https://www.trainingbynelle.com