A Terrible Thing to Waste: Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Anyone who’s ever run a business knows that contentment with the status quo is an invitation to disaster. Human beings may not always like change, but they need it. Stagnation is not just boring, it’s dangerous.

The same is true of your company. To perform optimally, a business must grow and evolve—meaning that your employees must grow and evolve as well.

If your team is to be truly ready to respond to the ever-changing needs of your customers and the ever-changing conditions of the market, then your organization must cultivate a culture of continuous learning. This article shows you how.

Call in the Pros

Continuous learning in a business environment isn’t just a nice idea, it’s a necessity, and more and more entrepreneurs and decision-makers are realizing it—especially in our current environment.

Hiring a chief learning officer (CLO), whether as a part-time consultant or a full-time staff member, is an ideal way to begin building a culture of continuous learning in your company. Not only do CLOs typically have extensive industry experience in their own right, they also combine their professional experience with advanced education in training and development, many of them holding master’s or doctoral degrees in this field.

Tailor Your Training

Studies show that, across industries, the average cost of learning and development is around $1,200 per employee, while the tangible return on investment is difficult to quantify with certainty. That can seem like a risky investment in a very challenging business climate, especially when you can’t really predict the tangible financial returns on your investment.

But the intangible returns can be profound. For example, Gallup found that nearly 90% of millennials want the opportunity to learn and grow in their jobs; they consider continuous development to be an important prerequisite for joining, or remaining with, a company.

An important strategy for developing a culture of continuous learning is to help each employee understand their particular core strengths as well as the various types of intelligences that shape their work and propel them to excellence. Tailoring your training strategy to your employees’ specific intelligence(s) can not only increase performance but can also be an incredible motivator as they discover, develop, and deploy their unique strengths.

1.    Language Intelligence:

If you have an employee who has a way with words, you might encourage them to enroll in marketing, PR, or business-writing courses. As your employee’s language and writing skills grow, you may find you have a built-in, go-to person for important communications, from client correspondence to promotional copywriting to social-media management.

2.    Mathematical and Logical Intelligence

If you have someone who has a knack for fixing the company’s computers or hardware, why not capitalize on that natural talent?

Encourage them to pursue training in programming, cyber security, or some other IT field. Not only will this offer them a fantastic development opportunity, it will also be a tremendous asset for your workforce as a whole. In an increasingly digitized business environment, if you have people who can manage the tech, your workflow is going to be smoother and more efficient all around.

3.    Visual and Spatial Intelligence

Do you have an employee with an impressive sense of style or visual flair? Maybe they’re always doodling, or they’ve filled their homes with works of art they painted themselves.Friendly coworkers learning together

Training in creative fields like graphic design is perfect for these types of employees. Personnel with highly developed visual intelligence can readily learn how to create striking images by hand or through computer-aided design.

What that means is that you may never again have to outsource the design of a stunning company website, visually appealing social-media pages, or eye-catching promotional materials.

4.    Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligences

Creating an effective training strategy that is customized for each employee isn’t just about developing hard skills. You probably have staff members who are simply exceptional with people.

These talents, too, can be cultivated. You might encourage these staff members to take courses in counseling, mediation, or organizational psychology. They can then become an extraordinary resource for managing productivity, driving motivation, and conducting effective performance reviews.

Show Your Commitment

Providing customized training and development opportunities will telegraph to your employees the company’s long-term investment in them and will likely inspire a sense of loyalty in return. And if you tie their development to tangible rewards, such as bonuses and higher compensation for every certificate earned or every course successfully completed, employees may have additional motivation to enhance their professional skills.

The Takeaway

Entering the workforce doesn’t mean we leave school behind. Learning should be a lifelong endeavor, and cultivating an environment of continuous learning is essential. Encouraging, and even requiring, your employees to keep developing new skills and continuously grow their knowledge and abilities will not only improve team performance, it will also help them be more motivated, more engaged, and more fulfilled.

 

Guest Post Written by Adrian Johansen. CMOE guest authors are carefully selected industry experts, researchers, writers, and editors with extensive experience and a deep passion for leadership development, human capital performance, and other specialty areas. Each guest author is uniquely selected for the topic or skills areas they are focused on. All posts are peer-reviewed by CMOE.  

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