Disclaimer: I am biased in this area. According to multiple strengths assessments, my top strength is learning, and I have spent the last several decades in learning, so I believe that all of our problems are solvable through learning.
If you enable your humans to integrate learning into their workflows and create a positive learning environment, your organization will be positioned for whatever challenges come your way. The single most impactful change you can make to your organization is to facilitate learning. In her book Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don't Even Exist Yet, Michelle Weise explains that with longer life spans, changing technologies and the influx of new knowledge, we may need to each train for 20-30 job changes. None of us are prepared simply by formal education, and we all need to be continually learning.
What is continual learning?
Continual learning is NOT sitting in a classroom for training. In the 1980s, researchers developed the 70-20-10 model in recognition that 90% of our learning happens in informal ways outside of the classroom. Think about the last time you needed help with something. Did you take a course? Or, did you do a google search? Look at YouTube? Ask a colleague? As leaders, we need to find ways to make it easy for our team members to learn and share information. Recognize that your employees are learning, and encourage it.
Why do leaders need to develop a learning ecosystem?
By setting up a positive learning culture, you set your organization up to be agile to face any challenge that comes your way. Jobs do have specific skills that employees need to learn, and to excel, we want our employees to be constantly upskilling. The nature of work is constantly changing, and we need to be prepared for disruptions like COVID. Organizations which focus on learning, have employees that are better equipped when faced with new situations. Organizations that insist on doing things the same way will eventually disappear (think Blockbuster, Polaroid, Kodak, etc.). The world WILL change, and the question is, will your organization be ready?
How can I set up my team for continuous learning?
Try adopting some of these simple strategies.
1. Set up a platform to store and share information
If you use Microsoft, you can set up Teams or a SharePoint site to keep relevant materials. Think of a place that is easily accessible and already in use by employees. The idea is that information should be accessible in 2 clicks and 10 seconds.
2. Curate bite-sized content
Break down your content (manuals, articles, videos, training courses, etc) into individual skills, then consider the most important information needed for that skill. Try to keep videos to under 20 seconds and text to one page. Come up with a consistent tagging protocol to help people find the content.
3. Make time for learning
Consider encouraging your team to set aside to learn for 30 minutes per day or at least 1 hour per week. Without regular, dedicated time, we will focus on the 'urgent' tasks, however, by setting aside time for learning, we can actually learn better ways to manage those tasks and work more effectively.
Set up a platform for your team to share knowledge, and ask everyone to share something that has been helpful for them.
Visit Lindow Learning to read about more tips on improving your team's performance or for help in growing better humans and improving the impact of your organization's mission.
Marjan-Bradeško. “4 Pillars of Effective Knowledge Management.” Learning Solutions Magazine, 2022, learningsolutionsmag.com/article/4-pillars-of-effective-knowledge-management. Accessed 10 Nov. 2022.