Today’s job market is shifting. According to LinkedIn, nearly half of today’s most in-demand skills didn’t even exist three years, a change largely attributable to the digital revolution. This has made adaptability, curiosity and an eagerness to be consistently learning key attributes that employers seek in their employees.
Often, what you know is not necessarily as important as important as what you are willing and able to learn. And immediately having the answer to a question is not necessarily as important as being resourceful enough to find it.
But while creating a culture of learning within an organization is becoming a key driver in business success, some companies are still challenged with actually executing it. The good news is that, when you approach the process strategically, it can be done.
Encourage and Reward Continued Learning
In order to truly create a holistic and fulsome culture of learning among your team or organization, it’s imperative to implement a reward system that entices your employees to engage in learning opportunities.
Whether it’s seminars, conferences or extracurricular courses, your employees might want to engage in learning opportunities but may struggle to juggle these opportunities with their workload. When your employees are asked to maximize results, efficiency and productivity, their capacity for learning is often decreased.
As an employer or a leader, creating a culture of learning means looking at the long-term benefits of a team that’s continually learning, and ensure you’re making provisions that make learning and growing their skills a convenient and integrated part of their job.
It also means cultivating an environment in which those who display an effort to learn and develop and praised and promoted, while creating a climate that nurtures critical thinking and encourages your staff to challenge authority and speak up.
Don’t Shy Away from Negative Feedback
In a professional world where feel-good management approaches have taken the place of constructive criticism, the value of negative feedback is often forgotten. The truth is that negative feedback isn’t always negative. When delivered properly, it can be a valuable form of learning.
After all, how can you expect your staff to learn from their mistakes if they’re not aware they’re making them?
Providing negative feedback can oftentimes spark the urge to learn in your employees by highlighting a knowledge gap – creating curiosity by making people aware of what they don’t know.
A delicate approach is fundamental in ensuring negative feedback is taken in stride and applied in a positive way, but when given carefully it can be a catalyst for curiosity and learning.
Lead Your Team by Example
Don’t short-sell your influence as a leader. If you want to create a culture of learning amongst your team, it’s important that you lead by example. This doesn’t just apply to what you say. It matters what you do. If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.
To inspire a culture of learning among your team, you need to unlock your own curiosity and proactively learn and improve. Show your team the way by learning a new skill, volunteering to work on something unrelated to your main job or take on tasks outside of your comfort zone, even if you’re not great at it.
The goal is to show others that curiosity and an appetite to acquire new knowledge and abilities can in fact help them improve.
Build a Team of Curious and Inquisitive People
Talent acquisition and retention is challenging on the best of days, so this won’t necessarily be an easy process. But it can be made a lot more efficient if you approach it the right way. Managers often focus on training, qualifications and skills while neglecting to examine a potential employee’s nature.
When building your team, seek people who are naturally curious and maximize the fit between their interests and the role they’re in. In doing so, you’re more likely to encourage them to exercise their willingness to learn and unlock their curiosity. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to determining the nature of potential employees, you can get a great deal of insight through things like their openness to new experience, their tolerance for ambiguity, their critical thinking and their inquisitiveness.
In today’s professional world, a team of curious staff who are eager to learn can be a huge benefit to meeting business goals. But as a leader, it’s up to you to create a work environment that encourages consistent and proactive learning.