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Building a Learning Culture: Thriving in the Tech-Driven Landscape

Continuous learning leads to continuous improvement, so instilling a learning culture in a business organization will encourage employees to develop knowledge and skills that will ultimately improve the bottom line. A continuous learning culture helps drive and influence strategic direction, and attracts high-caliber talent who value a learning mindset and an organization willing to invest in their professional development.

“Organizations should look at talent as a value creator and find ways to help grow and position future leaders within the organization,” says Jean Cantey Segal, Chief Learning Officer for FCCS.

“A learning culture strengthens problem-solving ability and encourages employees to think about how they can use their knowledge and insights to help the company grow, help their borrowers be successful and navigate the transformative world we’re facing.”

As with many business initiatives, effectively instilling a learning culture requires leadership to champion the mindset. It takes a comprehensive, coordinated strategy that is well and consistently communicated to engage employees and encourages collaboration across the organization. The learning strategy should align with the organization’s strategic direction to yield the strongest returns.

“This is an investment in time and communication and requires really thinking strategically about the skills and capabilities your employees will need to thrive in the future you’re anticipating,” says Jean.

Creating a continuous learning strategy starts with assessing the current behaviors, values and knowledge within the organization and identifying gaps or areas that should be enhanced to support your strategic plan. This means being very intentional about the competencies the organization will need into the future and identifying activities, events and experiences that will encourage improvement in these areas. Leaders should clearly define what success looks like, set benchmarks and consistently evaluate the evolution of the learning culture, including soliciting feedback from the team.

“Formalizing the learning plan brings a level of accountability to the leadership team, creating alignment about how you’re growing your leaders to support your overall strategy,” says Paula Horwitz, FCCS Vice President of Event Management who boasts an extensive background in adult learning. “Leadership commitment to a formal plan underscores its importance in a powerful and authentic way and helps the plan succeed.”

Instilling or strengthening a learning culture, by definition, impacts employees. Each
should be engaged with a learning plan aligned with business goals and strategies
and capitalizing on their own strengths. Managers should have conversations with
their teams about the value of learning and development in general, and how the
attributes that are being targeted in the learning strategy will ultimately benefit the
business.

“Changing a culture is challenging, and success demands consistent communication,
leadership modeling of the learning mindset and recognition for others doing the
same,” says Jean. “In some cases, an employee may be uncomfortable with the
required upskilling, in which case it falls on leadership to demonstrate empathy and
help team members adjust.”

Beyond inherent resistance to change, another challenge for employees is prioritizing
and carving out time for learning while working in a fast-paced, demanding
environment and also balancing personal demands and overall well-being. One trend
addressing this resource constraint is microlearning, which delivers very targeted,
usable training in 5- to 10-minute sessions. The approach limits disruption to the
work day, providing bite-sized learning such as tips on giving feedback, and works in
conjunction with and strengthening more lengthy, formal training.

“Microlearning helps balance the employee’s everyday tasks with consuming new and
immediately applicable information,” says Paula. “It works especially well for adults
balancing multiple priorities, which includes everyone working in business.”
It’s important to recognize that a learning strategy doesn’t have to result in a
formalized program for the entire staff. Every employee has a different set of
skills, different needs in how they learn and different goals, so each should have a
customized learning plan developed in cooperation with their manager.

“Supporting all employees in continued learning and development, both personally
and professionally, promotes a learning culture that enhances employees’ skills so
they’re better equipped to tackle an increasingly complex and uncertain world,”
says Jean.

To learn more about establishing or formalizing a learning strategy for your
organization, contact Jean Cantey Segal at 303.721.3278 or via email.

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