Becoming a Learning Organisation

It’s no secret that providing opportunities for your people to learn, grow and develop is essential for staff engagement. However, while I’d like to promote our suite of in-house workshops and professional development as your one-stop solution, there are countless other ways you can provide learning opportunities for your team. Becoming a learning organisation is less about formal training, and more about a learning mindset.

Check out our Top 10 ideas for embedding everyday learning into your workplace practices.

1. Set Learning Goals
If you truly want to become a learning organisation, you need to set yourself some learning goals and you need to encourage your team to do the same. Setting goals helps you be intentional in your learning practice and gives you something to measure or keep track of. This sets learning up as a priority and it makes it harder to dismiss when things get busy.

A learning goal doesn’t need to be about qualifications or specific skill development, it can simply be about the practice of learning. My learning goal for 2022 is to watch 300 Ted Talks. I’m 14 down and 286 to go!

2. Start a Workplace Bookclub
Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting you sit around drinking tea and discussing romance novels, but I am suggesting you take time to read great texts and discuss how you can implement the ideas in your business. This concept is particularly useful for Senior Leadership Teams or staff you have tagged as emerging leaders. Each month choose a leadership book (or a chapter of a book) to read through, then discuss the key principles at your team meeting. This is a great way to introduce new principles or perspectives, in a way that encourages a shared language and understanding.

3. Encourage Learning Bites
They say that the best way to learn is to teach, so it makes sense that every member of your team gets a chance to share what they know. Each week, ask one of your team to share or demonstrate something that will help upskill (or up-knowledge) the rest of the team. This learning bite doesn’t need to be role specific. In fact, allowing team members to share personal skills and experience is a great way to encourage engagement. Perhaps they can teach a greeting from their native language, a tip they picked up from TED Talk, or an interesting article they read online.

4. Create Watch Parties
We often think that learning needs to happen in big blocks, but some of my biggest ‘aha’ moments have happened while watching a 5-minute video online. The thing about online video is that the good ones have been edited to include just the stuff you need—and no more. So instead of sitting through an hour-long presentation, you can catch the critical idea in a carefully curated 5-minute clip. Each week, choose one great clip and send it to your team to watch online.

5. Ask Good Questions
As a leader, you can choose to manage or coach. A manager tries to change people, whereas a coach tries to grow them. As a coaching leader, it’s your job to catch teachable moments and support your team to have their own insights. So, instead of telling them what went wrong or what they need to do differently, your role is to ask good questions so that they have the ‘aha’ moment for themselves. Three great questions to ask are:

  • What went well?
  • What went differently than expected?
  • What could you do differently next time?

Encouraging this self-reflection is the fastest way to develop a learning mindset in your team. There are no mistakes—you either win or you learn.

6. Have a Learning Budget
Your budget, both at work and at home, is the true test of what you value. If you truly value continuous learning, then you need to put your money where your mouth is and set aside some funds. Having a training budget doesn’t mean that learning only happens when it’s paid for, but it does send a message to your team about how important you think it is. Being prepared to invest in learning and development signals that you take it seriously.

7. Take a Field Trip
Watching how other people do business is a great way to learn and organising field trips is a fun way to facilitate this. Some industries use this form of learning really well, whereas others are a lot more guarded of their trade secrets! Spend some time considering what a field trip might look like for you. Here at Real Team, we often attend conferences not for the content, but so we can watch how it is delivered. Seeing how other people facilitate or present is a great learning opportunity for us.

8. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Coaching
I’m a big believer in the power of coaching, but contracting an independent coach for each member of your team isn’t always practical. Peer coaching is a great way get the benefit of coaching and reflection, without the ongoing expense of contracting a coach. It’s also a great way to build leadership capability in your team. If you would like some support with training your team to coach each other, let us know.

9. Develop a Learning Library
A learning library isn’t necessarily a physical room (although that would be nice), but more a database of articles, books, videos, podcasts, online courses or blogs that are relevant to your business. Create this updatable list as a shared document that your whole team can access and add to. This learning library makes it easy for people to engage in bite-sized learning without having to scour the internet for something that might be relevant. List, link, learn.

10. Invest in Team Training
You got me. I couldn’t make this list without suggesting that formal professional development—as a team—is a great way to learn. What I love about learning as a team is that everyone moves forward together. Individual insights become team insights; new principles and frameworks get bought into all at once; and there’s a shared language and understanding that becomes second nature when you learn it together. If your learning needs centre around personal growth, leadership or team development, get in touch. We’d love to help.

Becoming a learning organisation is an intentional decision and needs to be championed from the top. How are you investing in your learning today?