A learning culture consists of a community of workers trained with a “growth mindset.” In these environments, people not only want to learn and apply what they have learned to advance their organization, they also have a passion to share their knowledge with others. Edward Hess, a University of Virginia business professor says, to unlock learning, organizations must recognize key constraints that prevent people from reaching their full potential. What steps can leaders take to create learning cultures, helping individuals reach their full potential?
Learning cultures hire smart. Hiring managers and recruiters understand how to use structured interviews and behavioral assessments to evaluate candidates. For example, leaders ask questions which uncover individuals who are intrinsically driven with the capacity to figure out what needs to be done, and finding ways to do it.
Learning cultures teach “how” not “what.” Bridgewater Associates LP, has 15,000 employees. Once an employee is hired, the company spends 18 months acclimating individuals into the company’s learning culture. Focusing on “how” allows the company to transform individuals into independent thinkers.
Learning cultures encourage openness and difference. Learning cultures feature flat hierarchies, which inspire high levels of openness and engagement. Tough questions are welcomed. People think outside the box, and go outside of formal reporting lines to discuss ideas and issues without fear.
Learning cultures support risk-taking. As long as individuals are taking acceptable risks, learning cultures are supportive, even when individuals fail. These cultures encourage mistakes as long as they support learning and growth, as opposed to making repetitive mistakes. In other words, it’s impossible to learn without the possibility of failure.
Finally, learning cultures build teams not individual superstars. A culture that is rich in learning fosters creative tension by giving teams assignments, which require innovation to master new skills. Since people learn more when they are supported by others, these environments reward and recognize teams rather than individual performance.
Learning cultures develop people who learn because they want to, rather than learning because they have to. Click here for more information on creating a learning culture.