‘Just like a potter shapes the clay, the culture of an organization shapes its people!’

In this blog, I will explore the importance of organizational learning culture in a company’s growth agenda and how training and L&D programs can facilitate the same with a focus on right, relevant, engaging, and readily-available content.

What is Organizational Culture?

Culture is that unseen force which can either make or break any organization. Its potential is often overlooked which leads to a certain behavior or trend that gets set unknowingly. Let me share a story with you to drive home this point-

‘There was a kingdom which was ruled by a king who had a vision of ruling the world. He had a team of wise men whom he trusted the most. He called them his – Inner Circle. He would only listen to them and trust no one else. For a certain number of years, this worked fine and the kingdom started to grow. However, slowly they started reaching a stagnancy level, when it came to idea generation. Growth started stunting and slowly they started losing to other kings whose troupes had better planning and execution in place. This was the culture that got set unknowingly. The king started getting restless as he couldn’t figure what was going wrong. That’s when a pandit approached him and said, “Your highness, your problem has a simple solution but you would need to be more receptive in your approach.” The king was desperate and agreed.’

The pandit said, “Your highness, your culture needs to be fixed. The reason why your wise and talented men are not able to find a solution to the problems is because their knowledge gaining has stopped. They are unable to think of any innovative methods to fight back because their learning has become limited. Open the doors of limitless learning and let your wise men swim in the ocean of wisdom. Then see the difference.” The king obliged and did as the pandit suggested. He hired teachers from far and beyond and gave his wise men holistic learning. This started stimulating their brains and ideas started flowing. Slowly they started to grow and from that day onwards they never looked back.

This was the mantra that worked back then and which, I believe, will work even in today’s times.

“Open the doors to limitless learning and let your people swim in the ocean of wisdom. Then see the difference!”

How can organizations build a learning culture?

In a recent poll posted on LinkedIn by our AVP Marketing, Pranjalee Lahri, on the topic ‘where does the onus of culture management lie?’, the results suggested a stunning leaning towards a combined effort, with 69% agreeing that it’s a shared responsibility of HR, L&D, top management and the employees.  

Making learning a part of culture would be a win-win situation for both the employees and the employer. An IBM study focusing on the value of employee training showed that 84% of employees within the best performing organizations are receiving the training they need, compared with 16% in the worst-performing companies. And in another recent eLearning report, 94% of employees said investment in training and development is one of the major reasons they would decide to stay in a role for longer.

Today’s modern learners always ask– “what’s in it for me?” when taking up a new job or role. They are fast-paced individuals who want to invest their time in a company that would not just want them to contribute to its business but who would also be willing to invest in their personal growth. And the key to ensuring that employers as well as employees benefit from learning interventions can be summarized in two magic words – right content.

You can’t teach an elephant to climb trees, more so by showing a video on ‘how to climb trees’? Or can you?! Well, that would be just fascinating! But, jokes apart, you get my point.

When it comes to cherry-picking the right content for their learning needs, organizations often turn to modern learning content libraries, such as Plethora, to gain access to a world of learning in one place. And, with the ability to identify and select content that is relevant to an individual and which resonates with his/her personal growth goes a long way in ensuring the sustainability of an effective learning culture.

Other ways learning can be made a part of the culture is by making it mandatory so that employees take it seriously, and ensuring leadership buy-in to make it a top-down directive and fuel the motivation of the workforce. Because one of the most important ways to ensure a sustainable learning culture is ensuring that your leadership believes and wants to truly promote it. Because as John F. Kennedy rightly said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

The HR department can drive a learning culture by rolling out various initiatives which further help cement this idea. Performing simple tasks like asking line managers to mention ‘learning culture – the new norm for XYZ company’ in their weekly catch-ups with their respective teams, and asking them to also explain why this is being implemented, what are the benefits will go a long way in fostering a learning culture.

Employees at TED, the media organization that posts educational and inspirational talks online, have ‘Learning Wednesdays’ every other week. These are meeting-free days when workers can do whatever they want—as long as they use the time to learn something. Making this a part of HR’s internal brand is also super critical. Along with providing relevant content that their employees can absorb, the HR needs to check whether the buy-in is there. If not, the same content needs to be made available in various formats, on mobile apps, through employee engagement activities and similar initiatives.

Another efficient way to ensure the success of your learning programs is by “appreciating your employees” when they finish a particular curriculum or course. With an effective feedback loop both employers and employees will gain a better understanding of their learning needs and how effectively they can be met.

So, keep learning your way through life and I promise you will have only gained in the process.