Insights3 February 20226 min

Why you should create a continuous learning culture in your company and how to do it

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With times changing faster than ever, companies have to get used to constantly adapting to shifting ground. That’s why developing a culture of continuous learning is so important, for founders as well as team members. According to Deloitte, companies with strong continuous learning cultures are 46 percent more likely to be first to market, have 37 percent more productive employees and are a whopping 92 percent more likely to innovate! So how do you go about it? We’ll give you some basics to get you started.

Lean, mean, growth mindset team

Creating a culture of continuous learning isn’t just about giving team members the opportunity to pick up new skills: it’s a mindset. If you want to change your learning culture, you have to explain why it’s important to keep learning and how people will benefit. Make the concrete wins clear for your team.

In her trailblazing research on the impact of mindset on learning, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck identified two types of mindsets towards learning and development: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset avoid challenges, have trouble accepting negative feedback and are inclined to give up when faced with obstacles. Meanwhile those with a growth mindset see challenges and setbacks as opportunities for development and accept feedback and coaching as opportunities to learn and improve. The growth mindset gives people a greater sense of free will and drives continuous improvement and achievement.

So what makes people with a growth mindset different? It’s pretty simple really: they basically just believe they can grow. People with a fixed mindset tend to believe that their qualities are set in stone, creating the need to prove that they have the intelligence, personality or strengths that they started out with. Situations that make them feel inadequate or undermine their strengths are problematic. Instead they seek out situations that will confirm their capacities, asking: will they succeed or fail? Will they look smart or dumb? Will they be accepted or rejected? Will they feel like a winner or a loser?

Believing that your basic qualities can develop and change however, gives you room to look at the bigger picture. People with a growth mindset believe you can cultivate basic qualities through effort. While we all have different talents and abilities, everyone can change and develop through hard work and experience. This means they seek out situations that will help them grow and learn, even (and especially) if that means they don’t yet master the skill or receive critical feedback.

So, is your company ready to adopt the growth mindset? All it takes is rewarding learning and development instead of only achievement. On top of the benefits for productivity and innovation, showing off your growth mindset is great for employer branding, helping you to find and retain great talent.

The art of giving (and receiving) feedback

The most successful companies aren’t just the ones where leaders give their staff feedback. Peer-to-peer coaching is being used in more and more startups and scale-ups to take each other to a higher level. The benefits are countless: you create more mutual empathy for each other’s jobs, increase the sense of accountability, drive productivity and nurture the growth mindset. There’s also a huge plus for you as a manager or leader: it helps you engage your employees and retain your talent.

But let’s take a step back. Of course it all starts with the feedback mindset of the managers themselves. Giving effective feedback is an essential skill that tends to be underdeveloped in new managers. As our CEO Lode Uytterschaut put it in an interview: don’t think you’re born a great leader. It’s something you have to learn. That means you too have to be open to feedback and coaching. Only then can you cultivate and stimulate a positive feedback culture and peer coaching in your team.

To get the most out of peer-to-peer coaching, your team needs to learn to receive as well as give feedback. That means not letting defensiveness or emotions get in the way of their development. Sound like a tall order? It’s not as difficult as you might think. You can make feedback more approachable by organising “lunch and learn” moments. Or by letting employees share what they’ve learned recently at the end of each week.

Expand those bubbles & manage your knowledge

That doesn’t sound great after corona, right? Don’t worry, we’re just talking about expanding your knowledge bubbles. Knowledge management is one of the toughest issues organisations have to deal with. In most companies, employees operate in their own bubble, sharing knowledge with those in close contact but with little transfer of knowledge or learning outside of these bubbles. Huge amounts of knowledge are unavailable to the company as a whole. This makes it hard for people to learn from their colleagues or apply valuable knowledge to their work at the right moment, making the company less efficient and effective.

Effectively mapping out the knowledge and skills of others helps companies assign the right people to projects, improving employee engagement. People are more motivated when they’re working on something they’re passionate about. Their key is creating an effective knowledge management system using the right information.

One way to expand those limited bubbles: build your own internal knowledge database. Each time one of your team members picks up new knowledge, they can record and document it in the database. You can use each lesson as a playbook to tackle future projects and help your company grow faster! Last but not least, this type of database also helps increase employee engagement by making employees feel their knowledge is appreciated and that they’re making their mark on the company. Want some more tips on employee engagement? Check out this blog by our recruitment startupSympl.