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5 Compelling Business Reasons to Invest in a Learning Culture

It’s widely accepted that a strong work culture is a trusted predictor of business success. Put more precisely by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, “Culture is a lead indicator of profit.”


But exactly what kind of culture leads to more positive and desired outcomes? Research from Deloitte boldly concludes – “The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.”

A learning culture can be simply defined as an environment that demonstrates and encourages individual, team, and organizational learning.


5 compelling business reasons for investing in a learning culture:

  1. Attracts and retains today’s modern workforce to organizations that offer learning, growth, and career opportunities.
  2. Increases employee engagement, a reliable measure for productivity, creativity, and creating customer value.
  3. Creates agile learners, allowing managers and employees to quickly adapt to disruptive forces.
  4. Builds an internal leadership development pipeline, ensuring stable succession planning.
  5. Delivers strong results and outcomes because learning environments increase motivation, naturally fostering high performing cultures.

The manager-coach’s roadmap for building a learning culture:

  • Hire, onboard, and train a growth mindset. Employees with a growth mindset are self-motivated to develop new knowledge, skills, and capabilities that can solve complex challenges.
  • Create a psychologically safe environment. Innovation and learning require risk taking; mistakes and failures come with the territory. Don’t shoot the messenger; praise good faith efforts, and…
  • Conduct regular after-action-reviews (AARs). Encourage team members to learn from their mistakes and their achievements. In an unsafe culture, reactionary managers will ask, “Why did you do it that way?” In a learning culture, managers respond by engaging the individual or team in a healthy two-way dialogue by asking, “What was the intended goal? What happened? What did we learn? How will we apply our learning moving forward?” AARs are a powerful catalyst for transitioning your environment to a learning culture.
  • Train managers to be great coaches. Relegating development conversations to an annual review is a relic of the past. Today’s modern organization understands in-the-workflow coaching and regular “off-line” one-on-one meetings are essential for driving business performance. Skilled manager-coaches are the most important force to drive a learning culture.
  • Capture “teachable moments” and delegate. Effective manager-coaches are skilled at observing team members’ struggle in various situations and proactively engage employees in joint problem-solving conversations. Great manager-coaches also regularly delegate stretch assignments, empowering their people to take ownership of key performance areas.
  • Make time and map out employee learning journeys. Organizational leadership must mandate on-going learning; typically through a combination of digital-learning and in-person sessions. It’s critical that managers view learning as a sustained process, with pre-designed reinforcement activities, and not a series of stand-alone events.

Creating long-term competitive advantage requires applying new knowledge, skills, and capabilities that can take advantage of market disruptions. Leaders that invest in building a learning culture equip and empower their teams to adapt to internal and external disruptions.

Is investing in a learning culture really worth it? Consider that “for every dollar invested in training, companies received $4.53 in return, or a whopping 353% ROI. Take that to the bank!

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