We live in fast-paced digital world where change happens at the blink of an eye. The people who will lead us tomorrow are the ones learning how to cope with change today. They do that not only by embracing change, but by continuously learning new things and keeping up to date with their industry’s latest technology and best practices.
Today’s leaders from organizations like yours and ours have to answer a critical question: how to create a work environment that provides the space, dialogue and discipline to grow? We all need to find the way to make our teams get away from the daily grind of what needs to get done, and find the time for learning.
Create a learning-friendly environment
Although the benefits of continuous learning are known, many companies and individuals today still don’t invest enough time and resources in expanding their knowledge in their field. Just take a look at the data regarding how many people read at least one book a year. In 2014, almost a quarter of all the Americans interviewed by Pew hadn’t even read one book over the past year.
On the other hand, a good percent of knowledge workers do take continuous learning seriously and probably read more than 11 books per year. These are the kind of above-average professionals every company would want on their team.
If you want you team to thrive in a time of change, help them embrace learning as a part of their everyday life. Here are a few ways you can get that started.
Make room for growth
Scheduling a training or booking a ticket to a conference is easy. Creating a culture of continuous learning is hard work.
Keep it simple at first, by making room in everyone’s schedule. You can try booking a couple of hours every week. As they say, repetition is the mother of learning and the father of action, especially when it comes to building a habit of learning.
Understand how adults learn best
Studies confirm that, compared to children, adults have a different way of learning new things.
Drawn from the work of Malcolm Knowles, Stephen D. Brookfield, and others, here are the core principles of adult learning, along with implications and suggestions for the teaching environment:
- New pieces of information that adults acquire need to be related to previously learned knowledge and experiences.
- Adults tend to prefer self-directed, autonomous learning.
- For adults, their experience, knowledge, and ideas need to be acknowledged as important.
- Adults want practical, goal-oriented, and problem-centered learning that can immediately help them solve work-related or personal problems.
- They need feedback on the progress they are making.
- Some adults prefer learning by doing, others prefer learning by observing, while others learn best by listening.
- Collaboration and sharing are the best ways for adults to learn.
- Adults are motivated to learn by a wide variety of factors, from personal aspirations, externally imposed expectations, to growth and professional advancement, and service to others.
This set of principles can help you create the basis of a learning system designed for adults. Here are a few ways we incorporate continuous learning at Hubgets. Hope they can serve you as inspiration for building your own unique system.
Three ways to incorporate learning at work
As principle #7 highlights, adults learn best through collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Here at Hubgets, we values this principle a lot, and our advanced instant communication and collaboration platform stands proof.
We use Hubgets for everything, from team communication to one-to-one messages, group chats, file and screen sharing, voice and video calls. This helps the knowledge flow, keeping everyone on the same page.
Every year, we welcome young professionals for a summer internship program that’s meant to help them learn more than the basics of software engineering. This year we successfully onboarded 14 interns spread across our Frontend, Backend, SQA, and Infrastructure teams.
To ensure the success of the program, the team leaders also act as mentors for our interns, teaching them everything they need to know about Hubgets, the tools we use, and how things are done in our team. This process happens continuously, through on-going training, group discussions, and one-to-one mentoring.
There are many self-taught tech entrepreneurs out there. The most famous one is probably Elon Musk who allegedly learned how to build rockets from books. Space ships aside, he is definitely an avid reader and that helped him a lot throughout his career. Although this learning model might not fit everyone, you might be surprised to find a few independent learners in your team.
For those team members who prefer autonomous learning, you could create a virtual library of useful books and hold a weekly meeting to review some of the things they learned. We have such a library here at Hubgets, and our team can either read the books online or use one of the company’s Kindle devices available for this purpose.
Because for some people (and I fall in that category) there is nothing better than a good book and a cup of tea on a rainy autumn day 😉
How do you find these ideas? Do you think you could use them to get started on building a continuous learning culture in your own organization? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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