Do you make time for learning during your work week? And have you succeeded to instill a learning culture within your team? Your answer isn't a clear “yes”? No worries, I've compiled for you my 10 favorite ways to create sustainable learning habits for yourself and your team if you're a manager.
How to create sustainable learning habits for yourself?
1 - Schedule some dedicated time in your calendar
As Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. If you don't schedule some dedicated time for learning in your calendar, it will always be postponed. I recommend you to set aside 2 hours a week to develop new in-depth skills as well as 10 minutes each day (after lunch for example) to keep up with your industry news and trends. The trick is to schedule an appointment with yourself in your agenda and stick to it!
A goal without a plan is just a wish - Saint-Exupéry
2 - Create a "to-learn" list
Many people bookmark dozens of articles every week and archive just as many newsletters and emails in a dedicated “To read later” folder, but never read them. If you are one of these procrastinators (like myself :)), I strongly advise you to create a "to-learn" list and to accomplish this list’s tasks during your dedicated learning time.
Either use a Bookmarks tab in Google Chrome or an application like Pocket. The Pocket application allows you to save all the content you'd like to read in one place and to be able to access it from anywhere, even offline. A great way to make your daily commute a little less boring!
3 - Subscribe to a few high-quality newsletters
Did you know that one email generates about 10g of CO₂ per year and that 60% of all emails are never opened? We are all drowning in emails. Start by eradicating all the newsletters you never read. You can use a tool like Cleanfox to do this. You will feel better and the planet will be happy too! After that, select the 2 or 3 newsletters that are most relevant for you and your industry. And make a habit of actually reading them during your learning moments.
4 - Try audiobooks and podcasts.
Many successful CEOs say reading is the key to their success. But finding time to read is not always easy. So why not giving audiobooks and podcasts a try? It will allow you to use your downtime (commute, waiting, etc.) to learn new things. And it can be a great opportunity to broaden your interests. Discovering new ways of thinking, thought leaders, artistic trends, etc. It can give you a fresh perspective on your work.
5 - Practice mindfulness
Formal learning is great, but have you thought about making every moment of your workday a learning opportunity? Here is how you can do it: whenever you're at work, try to be as present as possible. It’s called mindfulness. Try to really be in the moment.
You’re in a meeting with another team? Ask them about their current roadblocks! You’re in a meeting with a supplier? Try to get information on industry trends. You’ve just spoken in public? Ask the audience to give you feedback, and so on. I guarantee you it will make your work much more exciting :)
Now that we’ve seen how to incorporate learning into your own agenda, we’ll see how you can foster a learning environment in your workplace.
How to encourage a learning culture within your team?
6 - Lead by example
If you want to foster a learning culture in your team, you should start by setting an example. Applying the tips in the first part of this article is a good start! ;)
Another way to lead by example is to set aside a few minutes for a “Sharing Learning” moment at the end of your monthly team meetings. Start by sharing your own learnings with the team. It can be about anything: a great blog post, a book, an inspiring movie, a discussion you have had with someone, a quote, etc. Encourage everyone to do the same each month to create emulation.
7 - Give them access to an online learning platform
Rather than registering your team members to trainings you have chosen, you should give them access to an online learning platform such as Implement. Empowering employees contributes to their well-being and commitment. It is also much more efficient because they can learn whenever they need it. Some employees can be uncomfortable with the idea of asking for training. With an online learning platform, it is much simpler. Every time a need arises, employees choose a suitable training.
Implement's training courses are perfectly integrated into your employees' workday since they use the 'learning-in-the-flow' concept. What does this mean? It means that instead of passively attending a course, your team members are encouraged to directly apply the skills in their own projects, with personalized coaching.
8 - Calendarize dedicated learning time
Just as I advised you to schedule a dedicated learning time in your own calendar, I advise you to calendarize dedicated learning time for your team. What about launching a “Learning Friday”? In many organizations, Friday is a less productive day. Dedicating a few hours of this day to learning can help restore value and meaning. How does it work in practice? I suggest you create a dedicated event on your team's agenda and to promote it. Emphasize the importance of this event and make sure no one plans something else during this time slot.
9 - Encourage peer-to-peer learning
How about using peer-to-peer coaching to foster a learning culture? An easy way to facilitate this peer-to-peer learning is to associate a junior member with a more senior member and offer them to work together on a project. Or you could start a program like Google's "g2g" program (Googler-to-Googler), which allows employees from different teams to teach other employees the topic of their choice. What better way to encourage team cohesion while developing skills such as speaking and leadership?
10 - Create a learning channel
If you’re using a collaboration tool like Slack, you may already have a learning channel in place. But if not, you're missing out. A learning channel allows everyone to share important information with their colleagues. Encourage everyone to be active in this channel and to specify the key lessons learned when they share a link.
I hope this article has convinced you to stop putting off your learning sessions and start building a learning culture in your company :).
One last important piece of advice: listen to your team members. Ask them what they would like to learn. You might be surprised!
Tell me in the comments below what you've done to make learning at work easier! I'd love to know :)
👋 Do you want to incentivize your team members with access to an online learning platform? Learn more about Implement to upskill your team.