(Editor’s Note: This article about creating a learning culture is guest written by Rebecca Twomey. Rebecca is the Director of Marketing at Criteria for Success, a Manhattan-based sales consulting and Sales PlayBook development organization. She is the host of the Let’s Talk Sales Podcast and has authored over 22 eBooks on topics like How to Generate Sales Leads Using LinkedIn, Sales & Marketing Alignment, Time Management, Sales Management Planning, Social Selling, and many more.)
Learning culture? Let’s start with the basics. Does your organization value learning? You might’ve quickly answered, “Yes, of course we do!”
Now the question becomes: How do you enable your team to learn? Do you have a training and development path in place for your employees to keep growing? And better yet, is it working?
If you answered no, that’s okay. There’s still time to adopt a growth mindset and put employee development at the forefront.
But before we get there, let’s set some context and discuss what a learning culture is and why it’s important. Then, we’ll explore what you can do to create and promote a learning culture within your own organization.
What Is a Learning Culture, & Why Does It Matter?
An organization with a learning culture is one that values growth and development. These types of organizations take steps to ensure that employees are not only onboarded properly, but also continue to receive training and further development after being hired.
Organizations with healthy learning cultures understand that it’s to the benefit of both the employee and employer that development is continuous. After all, who wouldn’t want employees that are consistently growing in knowledge, competence, and performance?
In fact, Oracle cites that, “High-impact learning organizations (HILOs) are better at things like skills development and talent development. According to a study by Bersin & Associates, titled ‘High-Impact Learning Culture: The Best 40 Best Practices for Creating an Empowered Enterprise’ (June 10, 2010), HILOs that have a strong learning foundation in place tend to significantly outperform their peers in several areas:
- They are 32% more likely to be first to market.
- They have 37% greater employee productivity.
- They have a 34% better response to customer needs.
- They have a 26% greater ability to deliver quality products.
- They are 58% more likely to have skills to meet future demand.
As you can see from these statistics, learning cultures have great power and potential!
Creating a Learning Culture
Now that you know why learning cultures are so powerful, let’s explore how you can create a learning culture within your own organization.
Step 1: Build a Learning Culture Process
If you want to have a learning culture, you’ve got to bake it in to your Sales PlayBook! This means you need to put a process in place that supports the learning culture that you’re promoting.
The first place to start is to outline your why. Why is a learning culture important to you and to the organization specifically? Outline your own personal “why” and any associated goals.
Next, outline the how, or the mechanics. How will you help your team develop? What training and programs will you put in place? How will training function, and how frequently will training take place? What tools and resources will you use? Who will be involved?
Outline the steps you’ll take and what learning will look like for each employee.
Need some training topic ideas? Here’s a free Sales Training Topics Checklist with dozens of ideas to get you started!
Step 2: Get Buy-In
Have you ever tried to get a 2-year-old to do something that they don’t want to do?
Well, the same thing happens when we try to force adults to do things.
Get ahead of any possible resistance by being prepared and having a buy-in conversation with your team. Let them know your why first, and focus on how you’re going to lead by example. Speak to the new process you’ve put in place and how it’s going to benefit them.
Then, ask for their participation. Don’t tell your employees that they’re being rolled into this great program and that they’re going to like it. Instead, ask. Ask them for feedback and for their thoughts. Talk to your team about how they like to learn and what they want to learn. Ask your employees what they need.
Then, listen. Just listen. Absorb the feedback and work it into the process. And as time goes on, keep the lines of communication open. Let your team know that you’re always open to listen and adjust.
Step 3: Encourage Collaboration for Continuous Employee Development
Once you’ve built your process and have buy-in from your team, it’s time to drive your new learning process. And nothing will drive this better, or more effectively, than your own team.
An easy place to start is within your digital Sales PlayBook. The beauty of a digital Sales PlayBook is that it’s a living, breathing tool. (OK, so maybe not breathing! But it certainly should always be changing, growing, and moving.)
And because your PlayBook lives in the cloud, your teams will have access to knowledge (and each other!) any time they need. To name a few:
- Your sales
Encourage your sales team to collaborate by making it easy for them to work together. You might consider adding a forum discussion topics in your Sales PlayBook related to personal and professional development. For example, a “Book Club” forum might drive employees to read a new business book each month and discuss the impact. Or, you might have a page in your PlayBook dedicated to continued learning efforts with new topics each week or month.
What’s important to remember here is that it’s about creating an environment where your team can work together, talk together, and grow together. Continuous employee development is so much easier when your employees are helping to drive the initiative!