February 18, 2019

101: Facilitate learning

Successful companies encourage employee learning. Too often, education and professional development focuses only on top-tier employees, which is a mistake, says Ann Holland of Forbes Coaches Council, "Creating a self-directed learning and development environment not only deepens the organization's bench strength, but also engages and empowers a workforce that is intrinsically motivated to grow their own capabilities." Here are some things to keep in mind about facilitating learning at your workplace.

Wanted: Humility. To create a learning culture, employees need to leave their egos at the door and admit they don't know everything, a mindset which should be reinforced by management, says Tala A. Nabong at TrainingIndustry.com. "Is your company ready to give up confrontational attitudes for an open culture of trust and inquiry?" she asks. Monica McGrath at the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) agrees, "To think that someone can operate in a leadership role without learning from his or her mistakes and embracing new ideas is shortsighted."

Online isn't the only answer. Hands-on learning and learning in groups is preferable. Without interaction with others, employees can miss out on what they can learn from speakers and colleagues – whether they are aware they are learning from them or not. Getting motivated to go online may be another issue: McGrath cites a study by MIT and Harvard University, showing only 5 percent of the more than 841,600 people who registered for online courses earned a certificate of completion in two years.

Put knowledge to work. Learning should be communicated as highly valued and part of continuous performance improvements for employees. Dominique Jones at TheBalanceCareers.com says learning at work should never be a done-and-forgotten situation, but "[integrated] into daily operations … a core part of the culture."


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