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Creating a Culture of Learning

Take five to 10 minutes of your department meetings for professional development.

Letting employees expand intellectual curiosity

I must start by confessing that I am addicted to learning. At any given time, you can find me reading two to three books at once, taking a class on how to knit a blanket, teaching myself to can vegetables … you get the gist.

When it comes to the workplace, I’m an advocate for weaving the importance of learning into the fabric of the culture. Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” The important word in that quote is knowledge. While formal education has been part of my journey, it’s not the right fit for everyone. In our fast-paced world of technology and global growth, organizations would do themselves a disservice if they didn’t encourage and provide an opportunity for intellectual curiosity and development for their employees.

While some companies can provide ongoing, formal opportunities or resources for professional development, such as conferences, embedding learning as a priority can happen without breaking the budget. The following are a few ways that I recommend as initial steps toward a culture of learning:

Give Employees an Hour

I have successfully empowered employees by allowing them to take one hour per week during business hours to pursue something they are interested in, either personally or professionally. I encourage them to block the hour off on their calendar each week and commit to using that time for something that makes their hearts sing.

Establish Mini Development Sessions

Take five to 10 minutes of your regular staff or department meetings for professional development. For example, you could establish a rotation schedule, so each person has the opportunity to share something they’re interested in with the rest of the team. This could be sharing a video, an article or a slide-deck presentation. In addition to the shared knowledge, it gives folks the chance to develop their presentation skills in a safe space.

Encourage Job Shadowing

Over time I have observed numerous employees who don’t know how the pieces of the organizational puzzle fit together. Encouraging job shadowing is a great way to provide transparency into how other teams support the organization’s goals and could spark interest in a different career path within the company that they had not considered.

Investing in your employees’ personal and professional development will positively impact your culture and, likely, your bottom line. Employees who feel invested in and cared for will bring more richness and diversity of thought to the conversations and work. That’s what I call a win-win.

 

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