Great things happen in companies where executives inspire people to learn. To name just a few . . .
- An enhanced ability to compete in the marketplace, because people discover and apply the best information, solutions and ideas
- More effective leadership, because executives who love to learn inspire others to perform on a much higher level
- Improved job retention, because the work that everyone does becomes more stimulating and engaging
- Enhanced operations, because people aren’t required to do things . . . they want to try out the newest solutions and ideas
How can you cultivate a culture of learning and enjoy more of those benefits?
Become a Lifelong Learner Yourself – and Talk about It
It might work to say to people, “Go find out about the latest trends in our industry.” But in my experience, people are inspired to do that when company leaders are lifelong learners themselves. In other words, great learning leaders model the kind of learning behavior they would like to inspire in others. Then they actively share their discoveries in meetings, in casual encounters with people, on the company intranet, and more.
The more excited you become about what you are learning, the more people will follow suit. One effective approach is to start meetings by talking about something you have learned, and then asking other to contribute too. Another strategy is to start book groups where employees read and discuss important new books; provide the books and hold the sessions during company hours, not lunch hours, to reinforce the idea that learning is a “must do,” not a “nice to have” activity.
Open the Doors and Seek Information in New Places
When you stop to think about it, you are surrounded by people who can help everyone in your company learn. They include vendors, executives at other companies, members of professional organizations, and more.
To stimulate learning, create task forces that are charged with the responsibility of visiting other companies, attending conferences, reading business books, and then reporting back about the solutions and ideas they have discovered. The more you integrate learning with work, the more energized your organization becomes.
Put Educational Resources on Your Company Intranet, Website, Publications and Elsewhere
You can publish a review of an important article or book on your intranet with a link to download it. Or put an educational video on your website, or publish an article in your company newsletter. The more you demonstrate that you value knowledge, the stronger your commitment to learning becomes.