The world today is evolving at an unprecedented pace. It won’t be an overstatement that the world has changed more in the past 20 years than in the past 2000 years. The advent of technology has revolutionised the modern world. Everything today is witnessing a massive transformation. Most of these changes might be obvious or routine for people born near the beginning of the millennium. However, those born in 60s, 70s or the 80s of the last century can feel the contrast.
Like every other aspect , workplaces are also in a mode of continuous evolution,with various dynamic needs from an individual. Gone are the days when people were able to survive and perform at their workplaces with only one or two skills and have long and successful careers. In today’s world, one needs to continuously learn and evolve to keep up with the pace of the modern work culture. However, not everyone is able to do so. Such people either perish in the corporate world or remain underperformers. This situation is bad not only for the people at the individual level but also the organisations. The organisation doesn't want to have an underperforming employee, and losing an experienced employee is even worse.
Role of a good leader
A good leader constantly evolves and continues to upskill the people who work under him or her. In sports it is often said, ‘A captain is as good as his team.’ This is true in business as well. To keep the team performance at optimum level and a constant growth path, the leader as well as the team continuously need to improve, learn new things and acquire new skills.
A lot of people, however, are averse to learning new things. There are various underlying reasons for it. Lack of motivation, time, opportunities and rewards is one of the most important reasons. Many people want to try things but are unable to do so because of lack of confidence. While some issues are hard or impossible to solve, most of the above-mentioned barriers can be overcome with good motivation and opportunities. This is where the role of leaders becomes very important.
Creating a learning culture
A good leader motivates his subordinates to keep learning and also provides them with opportunities and infrastructure to do so. To develop a healthy learning culture in the team, a leader needs to take a few critical steps. These steps are not always very big but can be subtle most of the time. Before thinking about a learning culture, the organisations first need to create a learning environment.
Organisations, leaders and senior managers can consider the following aspects for creating a learning environment in the organisation.
Encourage and motivate
Proper encouragement and motivation can do wonders for any person. Motivating employees or subordinates to learn new things should be one of the most important job responsibilities of managers and leaders. The ability to mentor is one of the most important soft skills in any leader.
- Make time for learning: Encouragement itself is not sufficient if the people are not given time to learn.
- Invest in new learning infrastructure and platforms: After the motivation and time, investing in infrastructure and various learning platforms can do wonders.
Curiosity to know new things is one of the biggest self-motivators to learn. Nurturing curiosity instead of suppressing it, is one of the strongest pillars of a learning environment.
Lead by example
This old age saying holds true in this case too. The leader himself must be inclined and open to learning new things to motivate his followers.
sharing People not only learn from specialized courses/ platforms or leaders but also each other. People can learn new things from each other's experiences, successes and even failures. This factor is particularly important in the case of behavioral or soft skills learning.
Risks and rewards
A lot of people are averse to learning new things as they fear the risks or don’t see any reward in it. Motivating people to take a risk by removing or downplaying the consequences of failure can be another important step towards creating a learning environment. Rewards like promotions or positions of responsibility can be serious motivating factors.
Constructive feedback is important
When people try something new, they are bound to fail sometimes. At times of failure, the kind of feedback one receives can make or break the motivation of the entire team. Therefore, constructive feedback is extremely important.
The above-mentioned are some of the many ways to create a learning environment in the organisation. This list is not exhaustive. Once the right environment is created, the learning culture will gradually develop. Hiring people who have the ability or tendency to learn something new is very important for the long-term approach for developing a learning culture. The right approach and mindset of the leaders can do wonders for any organisation and keep its employees always motivated to learn new things and evolve. Such organisations achieve great success and easily navigate through tough times.
This article was first published in October 2021.