If you truly want to be an organization that supports learning, you need to put your money where your mouth is and figure out how to incentivize individual and team learning opportunities. Taking the time to learn and the time to train others, shouldn’t come at a cost to the performance review of the people who want to learn. They should be the people you want to reward and hang on to. They are the ones who will be pivotal in helping you navigate change, but they can only do that if they still work for you. Making them work double-time to make up for “lost productivity” when they try to be part of the learning culture you claim to want won’t encourage them to hang around.
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Here’s the challenge for those of you who want to lead. If someone in a meeting says something using jargon that you aren’t sure everyone in the meeting understands but is afraid to admit they don’t understand, ask the question on their behalf. Show them that asking questions is a good thing, and model the behavior that says learning is so important here that we ask questions without fear.
It also sends the message that we expect everyone to take the time and explain things to each other. That’s a big part of having a learning culture.
If you want to challenge yourself to learn something deeply, start figuring out how you would train someone to do it. If your employer doesn’t have an opening for a full-time trainer, create some opportunities to cross-train with your team, to reach out across teams and help teach them some of your skills, or to introduce them to some new technology that is coming. The skills you develop with come in handy, and you’ll be showing off some serious leadership skills as well, something that is probably in short supply in your industry. It is in most, anyway.
Make sure you are exercising those empathy muscles. They’ll help you understand where everyone is trying to go, and they’ll help you care enough to want to help them get there. That’s learning and development in a nutshell to me.