There’s nothing new about the concept of continuous learning, but it has become a topic of discussion in leading organizations of late, and was a frequently heard buzzword at learning conferences in 2019.
However, recognizing a buzzword or topic of discussion is one thing – real world implementation is another entirely. The truth is simple: as workforces grow and industries evolve, more and more employees desire access to opportunities that will allow them to expand their knowledge and skillsets. This could be due to a desire to prepare for future roles, to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape, or to simply satisfy the basic craving for knowledge. No matter the reason, it is critical your organization doesn’t turn a deaf ear to these wants.
However, that’s not to say the onus for continuous learning doesn’t fall on the employee. Rather, organizational focus should allow for a culture that encourages lifelong learning. Sending employees to workshops or conferences is no longer enough; in today’s business environment a far more focused approach is required. I’ve compiled three strategies to facilitate this below.
1. Establish a learning baseline. It’s difficult to overstate just how important it is for your employees to understand the requirements for growth within an organization. Leadership needs to establish a baseline learning plan to help employees understand both their current standings and what is required to reach the next level. Everyone wants to know how they can achieve their goals; by providing employees with a clear sense of required performance, they can seek out more-targeted learning opportunities and have a baseline to measure personal growth as they do so.
2. Provide accessibility in key areas.
- Content needs to be accessible in several forms. This includes traditional learning methods such as classrooms or conferences, non-traditional content like blogs or TED Talks, or even subscription-based websites like LinkedIn Learning or Harvard Business Manager.
- Subject matter experts, mentors, and peers need to be accessible both internally and externally from your organization. This will allow your employees to ask questions, share experiences, and even job shadow. External accessibility could be facilitated through networking events, structured conference calls, or even connections via social media.
- Skill-building projects and application opportunities also need to be accessible. This could include individual assignments, team-based projects, and on-the-job practice. Leaders who are in-tune with the learning needs of their employees can look for stretch assignments that support individual growth while still meeting the needs of their business.
3. Assess progress. It’s hard to overstate just how critical it is for leadership to monitor accomplishments and provide feedback. Establishing a clear way to do this is important as well. This should be done via formal meetings to evaluate progress in addition to real-time as new knowledge and skills are directly applied. The important thing is that you are assessing progress so employees and leaders can make adjustments in order to maximize learning and gauge performance improvements. As with anything else in business, the key is having a plan.
By taking action in these three areas, you’ll be establishing a solid foundation for continuous learning. Maintaining progress in this direction begins with leaders who support continuous learning and who help to create opportunities to apply new skills. A continuous learning environment will not only help employees grow and achieve greater job-satisfaction, it also helps with organizational retention and allows for greater adaptability when business conditions require nimble strategies.
If you have questions or would like help structuring a continuous learning environment and culture, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you’d like to see a platform that can support all aspects of a continuous learning environment – from assessment to content access to social learning to monitoring progress – contact our Expectancy Learning team.