Please Join Us!
When: Friday, April 27 @ 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. BST / 10:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Creating a Learning Culture
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
– Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO, General Electric
About This Week’s Chat: From Learning to Doing
I’m in the fortunate position of being involved with learning and teaching almost every day of my life. I work with Mind Tools, which exists to help people to learn. And, as an external lecturer, I teach leadership modules at a university in South Africa.
One of our clients at the university is a large corporation with many branches in Africa. From “day one” I’ve been impressed with its commitment to learning.
Its culture has been developed and maintained by a human resources director who prides himself on the fact that, under his tenure, the organization has never cut its training budget, no matter how tough economic times have become. He contends that the times when you can least afford training are the times when you need it most.
The annual launch of the organization’s management and leadership program at the university is always attended by this HR director and his head of training, to support the employees and mentors they select for the course. The attending mentors are managers and leaders who have already completed the course, and who are now in senior positions.
Every year without fail, in his welcoming speech, the HR director makes it clear that simply passing the course isn’t enough. He feels that you wouldn’t like to be flown by a pilot who got a 60 percent pass mark: what if he knows how to take off but he can’t touch down? He encourages everybody to work for distinctions and to learn as much as they can.
Celebrate the Importance of Learning
At the end-of-year graduation ceremony, the CEO personally hands the students their diplomas. The other directors, heads of divisions, and student mentors are also present. All students are also allowed to invite a family member. It’s a joyous occasion where they all celebrate the importance of learning – and the students are the VIP guests.
I would like to think that it’s because the corporation actively builds and maintains a learning culture that I’ve experienced the following on my visits to the organization:
- Whenever I make a point of asking one of the factory workers to tell me what the company’s values are, every one of them has been able to do so.
- People compete with one another to get on the university program. Only a handful are selected, based on their long-term performance and their eagerness to learn. And the whole organization benefits from this competition.
- Everybody knows that they stand a chance of selection. Two years ago, I had a lady in my class who started off as a janitor, but her drive to learn and advance won her a place on the course. She is now well-established on the leadership program, and well on her way to earning a degree.
- It’s a huge pleasure to lecture to class full of students who all want to be there. It makes for a wonderful learning atmosphere, and they also push and motivate one another.
It almost goes without saying, but I have to add that the company performs extremely well in terms of its annual turnover, profits and market expansion. It’s Africa’s market leader in its industry, and it expects to grow even more over the next five years.
Creating a Learning Culture
In our Twitter poll this week, we asked what would make workplace learning more attractive to you. Almost 40 percent chose “ease of access,” while another 40 percent voted for “attractive material.” Click here to view all the options and the results.
In Friday’s #MTtalk chat, we’re going to talk about “Creating a Learning Culture.” We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- What is your definition of a “learning culture?”
- In what circumstances might it be difficult to create a learning culture?
- Who is responsible for creating a learning culture?
- What role would you like to see C-level executives play in creating a learning culture?
- What are the benefits to the employees, and to the company, of creating this learning culture?
- What forms and sources of learning do you prefer? Why?
- In what ways can you embed learning into the daily flow of work?
To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.