When your company’s growing fast, it’s tempting to take a short-term view on learning and development. Or put a pin in it until the dust settles.
Don’t! You’ll be kicking up lots of extra dust because more growth is on the way. So what you do now matters more than you think, it’s your moment to build a learning and growth culture that scales with you.
Culture is essentially the agreed rules for how we’re going to work together and get things done! How fast and effectively we can grow it will influence our success, but it also influences how effective our learning and development efforts are.
So, how can we build a functioning learning and growth culture in fast-moving times? LifeLabs Learning’s Robleh Kirce joined us to provide three practical techniques for building the right culture and processes in our first community workshop.
0:00 Intro to Robleh Kirce, LifeLabs Learning and today’s workshop.
4:40 Why learning matters more than ever.
6:15 Learning plans and why they’re important.
10:40 An indivudal development plan (IDP) template.
14:00 Audience questions and tips on learning plans.
17:10 Feedback norms: creating actionable, clear feedback.
25:22 Learning extractions: Building in moments to pause and reflect.
31:20 Audience Q&A.
Three Tools For Building A Learning And Growth Culture
Create learning plans that drive action and engagement
Before you even get to learning, you have to measure engagement. Why? Because if you aren’t engaged, it’s really hard to focus on learning! It influences how much energy and effort we’re willing to put into development, especially in those times where we’re lacking an emotional connection to our work.
Robleh explained the CAMPS factors (Certainty, Autonomy, Meaning, Progress, Social Inclusion) that influence engagement. And in particular, progress because it’s the most relatable element when it comes to learning.
We feel happiest when we’re making progress, and it doesn’t need to be completing a marathon-level! It can be sending your first customer-facing email or even just brief involvement in an important project.
Ever written something you’ve already finished on your to-do list just so you can cross it off? That’s a clear sign you love those little progress wins and as Robleh explained it, that we’re all a little addicted to the dopamine release of getting things done.
Tips for building an individual development plan (IDP)
One way for us to satisfy those progress cravings to set out a clear development or goal-smashing plan. And Robleh provided a few brilliant tips, plus a template you’ll find in the recording, for getting that right:
- Establish a realistic timeframe that’s tied to how often our circumstances change or we need to hit milestones. Yearly progress check-ins are pointless when we’ve got monthly targets to hit.
- Get specific on areas we want to improve and understand the current level in that skill. It can’t just be to improve your communication skills, you need to drill down to an improvement that would make an impact. Establish current levels and, hey presto, you’ve got an actionable skill gap to close.
- Use the three Es: Education (what learning would you consider to achieve this?), Experience (which projects would stretch you as you try to reach that goal?) and Exposure (who currently does this well? And who can you shadow, speak to or ask for help?)
- Build Kaizen goal that improve efficiency! We might answer the last point above by claiming we want to speak to Carol and Joe, but that opens the door to procrastination. Leaders should ask us when we’ll have time to organise and attend those calls! Or which questions we’re planning to ask. That’s actionable and efficient.
Building a feedback culture that provides clarity
Whenever we’re giving feedback we’re potentially dealing with two sides of people’s brain: the rational and the emotional. We want to tap into the former, so that people are objective when we provide feedback.
How we structure and word it will ultimately determine whether it’s brain friendly! And if we want people to be rational and objective, our end of the bargain involves removing doubt and offering clarity.
Rather than telling someone they didn’t handle a client situation well, explain exactly which part was poorly received – that’s something clear they can work on. On the flip side, offering praise is another opportunity to flex your clarity muscles. And you didn’t just love the presentation an employee gave, instead you’re explaining which part you enjoyed so they can repeat it in the future.
Learning extractions: Build moments to reflect it the right moments
“We can’t just pretend people aren’t learning all the time anyways”, we just need to set aside moments to maximise it! Robleh hit the nail on the head, the majority of what we’re learning happens on the job, and it’s L&D or leadership’s role to work in opportunities for reflection.
We want people to develop learning as a habit, to move from an awareness stage to the practical understanding of how to apply that. Robleh gave the perfect example, it’s one thing knowing what swimming is and another to be able to swim and explain how to others.
If we build in moments to pause and reflect, we can ask questions like: What did I learn? What would I do differently next time? And how can I apply what I learnt in the future?
And those moments needs to built into what we do, beyond the weekly or monthly retro…
When we have conversations and moments of reflection matters
Having those frequent restropectives is average, great is having proactive conversations alongside them!
Case in point is how and when managers check in. If they ask what you learnt from a project when it’s completed, it’ll feel like a tick-box exercise, but if they come to you before it begins and explain that they’re excited you’re working on it because you’ll learn X or bring Y to the table, it feels proactive. It’s as if they’re genuinely interested in your growth and development!
One last tip for L&D and leaders is to use the time you’ve already set aside more effectively. If there’s a weekly one-to-one in the diary, can you dedicate 10 minutes to reflection and development?