(Originally published on eLearning Industry.)
Creating a corporate learning culture is an ongoing, continuous improvement process. You can’t follow a series of steps then suddenly have an environment conducive to learning. Fostering this culture involves a lot of listening and constant feedback from your employees and being ready to adapt and make changes.
There are several factors that you need as a foundation to enable this culture to start growing.
Sponsors for Your Mission
Get an invested executive sponsor on board – someone who understands and believes in your vision and won’t get in your way. The Project Management Institute determined that 81% of successful strategic initiatives had engaged executive sponsors. This is because an executive on your side can:
- Sell the idea to other executives and gain support across the organization, creating advocates in all departments.
- Link learning initiatives to corporate strategy and business goals.
- Communicate the initiative to the rest of the company – unless front-line managers buy into learning initiatives, they may fail to support employees using time on training.
- Advocate for budget allocation and use of other resources.
Company culture ultimately traces back to management’s attitude, and only management can change it. An executive is one of the few people in a position to challenge ingrained company behavior.
Relevant, Effective Content
You need your advocates to buy into the training system. Users are not going to buy into a training system with useless content, and why would you want them to? Learning is a waste of time if users aren’t learning well.
Users want to learn! According to a Learning in the Workplace Survey, 98% say they consider company-sponsored education important for their professional development. But three quarters say the training provided isn’t worth their time.
Listen to Feedback
This is one area where listening to your employees is extra important – make sure the courses you are producing or making available are relevant to the needs of learners. Your content should be hitting on knowledge gaps and pain points that your staff has been craving to address. Also ask for feedback on engagement levels – courses that are too boring will drive learners away.
Maintain Skills Profiles
Another way to draw users to your content is to maintain skills profiles of certain positions so that users looking to move up in your company can have a reference point to create learning goals. Skills profiles plus matching content will enable learners to develop a wider breadth of knowledge useful to the company.
Utilize Great Delivery Systems
Content also ties directly into delivery – great content is useless if employees can’t conveniently access it. Make sure the LMS or other delivery method you use is accessible and fits into employee lives. Evaluate the needs of your workforce to determine what features are important to their capability to access- such as mobile LMS support- and invest in the appropriate technology.
Workers are incredibly busy and even if you throw a party and hand out balloons when a new course is released, they will forget about it as quickly as the balloons deflate unless you are consistently reminding them of the resources available to them. Besides making a big deal out of new courses, you can:
- Set up a learning newsletter that will regularly feature new courses that they can take.
- Write case studies of how a course helped a worker and distribute them.
- Make sure managers are directing workers to the learning management system when they ask for training.
- Maintain a community forum to keep the conversation going.
- Have regular times devoted to learning every week or month.
Also make sure that learners can easily access course help and have a way to send feedback so that you can take it into consideration for the next course.
If you keep reminding workers of the courses and make training discussions part of the everyday chatter of your staff, you are one step closer to blending it into the company culture, alongside happy hours and complaining about Mondays.
Help Users Apply Their Learning
Absorbing the information in a course is one thing, but to really apply it to their jobs, learners must be able to transfer their skills to the real world. If learners have no chances to practice or no one to turn to for questions as they begin to use new skills, they will get frustrated. Having a system in place for transitional support is a cornerstone for the foundation of making sure your corporate learning culture works. You can do this through:
- Making coaches accessible
- Transitional learning activities like interactive course pieces
- Blended learning and on-the-job training pieces
Good Luck Building Your Corporate Learning Culture
These foundational aspects are key to enabling a corporate learning culture to grow. Without sponsors, great content, consistent communication, and transitional support, your budding learning culture will struggle and become another piece of paper at the bottom of the pile of failed business initiatives.