Why Leaders Need to Foster a Learning Culture
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Why Leaders Need to Foster a Learning Culture

The pandemic brought a transformation to the working world, and as we enter the age of AI, businesses need to act now to future-proof themselves.   Going forward, the growth in technology and workers’ re-evaluations of their working lives means that incorporating a learning culture needs to become a top priority for organisations to future-proof, […]

November 18th, 2023
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Abby.

Founder

A search expert making key hires for over twenty years.

The pandemic brought a transformation to the working world, and as we enter the age of AI, businesses need to act now to future-proof themselves.

 

Going forward, the growth in technology and workers’ re-evaluations of their working lives means that incorporating a learning culture needs to become a top priority for organisations to future-proof, attract, and retain their top talent.

 

“The psychologically safe learning environment has moved centre stage”

– Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School

 

Let’s explore further:

 

 

There’s an Urgency for Reskilling and Upskilling

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), over one billion workers will need reskilling by 2030.

 

Upskilling and reskilling are urgent; it’s a matter of when, not if.

 

The skills gap is widening, and organisations need to be proactive in their approach to ensure their workforce has the necessary skills to meet the demands of the future.

 

 

The Current Landscape

 

A culture of learning will be crucial in this new era of work. According to a Linked-In workplace learning report, only 9% of UK workers are ‘enthused’ by their jobs, resulting in record lows in productivity and retention.

 

In his annual letter to CEOs, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, emphasised that even top leaders need to adapt to the changing business landscape. They “need to be asking themselves whether they are creating an environment that helps them to compete for talent”.

 

Flexibility, diversity, and employee wellbeing are now at the top of minds for C-Suite leaders as well as HR, and organisations must prioritise these to future-proof themselves.

 

 

Learning & Development is Important to Your People

L&D is not just about equipping your people with the skills they need to do their job; it has a secondary goal.

 

Learning and development is important to employees as it helps to advance their own careers. In fact, 94% of employees say they would stay at their company longer if it invested in their careers.

 

Focus needs to shift from extrinsic motivators (such as salary) to intrinsic motivators if businesses want to retain top talent.

 

Post-Covid, your peoples’ priorities are changing.

 

 

The Power of a Learning Culture

Employers need to foster a learning culture going into this new era of work, and it starts at the top.

 

Several years ago, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, prioritised learning calling for “a culture founded in a growth mindset”. Put simply, he advocated for innovation, experimentation, and invention. This culture helped Microsoft’s success; their stock price has since quadrupled since Nadella became CEO.

 

 

Fostering a Learning Culture

It is understandable why organisations will have focused on short-term outputs during the uncertainty of the pandemic. However, leaders now need to be focusing on the long-term if they want to adapt effectively and drive growth.

 

Building a learning culture requires organisations to promote continuous learning as a mindset. Additionally, there needs to be space created for your people to freely discover and develop new skills.

 

Jeff Bezos, Executive Chairman of Amazon, believes that experimentation is key for innovation and invention. “To invent, you have to experiment and if you know in advance it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.”

 

The role of psychological safety

An organisation’s learning culture should be practical, inclusive, and inspire curiosity. It should also foster psychological safety to create a safe space for this experimentation and expression of ideas.

 

Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, said that “every time we withhold our thoughts, we rob ourselves and our colleagues of small moments of learning.”

 

Modelling learning behaviour

It is also important for senior leaders to model learning behaviour to encourage their people to prioritise it too.

 

Global pharmaceutical company, Novartis, role modelled learning and set a goal for their employees to spend 100 hours of their time on learning a year. Chief Learning Officer, Simon Brown said they did this “not because a hundred hours is a scientific measure of what one should spend on learning, but actually it was a symbol to say the company wants people to be spending time on learning.”

 

 

In Summary: Empower Your People

Empowering your people to learn how and when they want is key to building a successful learning culture.

 

Creating a safe space for idea exploration and proactively demonstrating the importance of learning and growth are both important steps in building this culture.

 

Learning is now no longer just part of HR and L&D teams; it has become a business imperative.

 


 

 

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