My favorite Atomic Object cultural value is Teach and Learn. I love to learn and I also enjoy sharing my knowledge with others. Working with others who also appreciate both teaching and learning fills me with energy. It also motivates me to learn more and teach more.
Over the past several years, the concept of a “learning culture” has gained popularity. According to the Society for HR Management (SHRM),
“A learning culture consists of a community of workers instilled with a ‘growth mindset.’ People not only want to learn and apply what they’ve learned to help their organization, they also feel compelled to share their knowledge with others.”
In a learning culture, people learn because they want to learn. Learning because you want to is fundamentally different from learning because your boss told you to do so for your company’s benefit.
Learning cultures foster a positive, engaged, and energetic work environment. In my experience, this translates to happy team members, innovative idea flow, and, ultimately, commercial success. What’s more, many people, including me, believe that establishing a learning culture is a competitive business advantage.
A Learning Culture Framework
Building and sustaining a learning culture requires thought, organizational consistency, and leadership commitment. The following Learning Culture Framework is designed to help you think through how you’re intentionally designing your own learning culture.
The Learning Culture Framework is based on three essential elements necessary for a learning culture to exist.
A learning culture requires leadership intentionality. The organization’s leader(s) should write down these expectations and communicate them. Ideally, elements of a learning culture are already part of your organization’s purpose or values.
A learning culture must be visibly alive and supported in the organization. The following attributes must be active.
- Structure – The organizational structure needs to support teaching and learning. It needs to be easy for team members to participate.
- Funding – Team members need to see that the company is actively investing in learning.
- Opportunities to learn – Team members have the opportunity to learn new things.
- Outlets to share – Team members have easy to use outlets to share their learnings with others.
- Recognition – The organization establishes mechanisms that positively reinforce the culture.
Leadership should proactively monitor the lived attributes to ensure they are running smoothly.
Atomic Object’s Learning Culture Framework Implementation
We’ve been very intentional about our learning culture at Atomic. Below are examples that demonstrates how we’ve implemented the Learning Culture Framework.
- “Teach and Learn” is one of our core values.
- We have a clear professional development expectation that’s outlined in our offer letter and employee manual.
- Work is primarily done by teams.
- We implement pairing throughout the organization (e.g., teams, managers, CEOs).
- The company offers a variety of learning opportunities (e.g., Career Accelerator Program, Econ of AO, accessible professional development).
- We have a generous professional development budgets — both in time and hard costs.
- We create various outlets for sharing (e.g., standup meetings, brown bag lunches, blogging, speaking, etc.)
- We’ve established an employee-driven recognition program.
- Career Development Managers provide prompting and encouragement.
- We highlight and transparently share data.
Building and sustaining a learning culture requires effort, but the effort has been well worth it for us. We’re also constantly looking to improve.
What have you done to create a learning culture at your organization? Are you getting the results you want? Please share any tips in the comments.