Build a learning culture through collaboration and sharing

Staying competitive in today’s fast paced economy requires businesses to be agile and innovative. More than any other resource, your people drive that agility by allowing you to be nimble and responsive to changing conditions. Against this backdrop, the organisations who derive the greatest value from their people are those who build a learning culture.

A learning culture is about more than just an investment in training, however, as it requires you to rethink the way that knowledge is shared within your organisation. This is where social learning steps in, as it allows you to turn everyone in your business into both a teacher and a student, while also making your L&D programs far more engaging.

The concept of building a learning culture through social learning practices is gaining popularity, as it moves organisations from using repetitive content from designated hierarchical sources, to more dynamic content that’s shared freely between employees, and engaged with on their own terms. So, how do we create this environment where everyone is free to be either a student or a teacher?

First, you need to measure the engagement you have with your current content in terms of how it’s being accessed, and how often. Then you need to build the case for knowledge sharing in terms of talent development and properly leveraging the intellectual capital within your business.

Next, you need to demonstrate the culture synergies that are created by knowledge sharing - empowering the recipients of knowledge, but also providing a level of engagement and motivation for the teachers themselves. This has to go beyond being a standalone project, to actually becoming a cornerstone of your company culture.

Once you’ve made the case with senior leadership for building social learning into your culture, engage with your IT team to determine the tools that are available for supporting this kind of collaborative knowledge sharing. You’ll need to measure learning outcomes and determine metrics for demonstrating value and productivity gains to your exec team.

The ideal social and collaborative learning tools will provide:

  • simple and intuitive access to regular training, on any device, at any time

  • the ability to share, and review content, and participate in learning communities

  • connect to a learning database where materials can be classified by topic, creator, and rating

  • AI and machine learning to recommend learning based on role, position, project, and KPIs

When you’ve implemented a platform that covers off the above, you can use it to begin fostering a culture of employee-curated content for maximum knowledge sharing. This also involves shifting LOBs away from being the experts, to facilitators of sharing and knowledge transfer.

By establishing the employee created content that rates the highest, you can begin identifying subject matter experts to link with employees with skills gaps. Eventually, best practices will become common knowledge, and you’ll be able to drastically reduce the time and effort placed on routine training.

The end result is a system which uses distributed learning as a force multiplier. Your employees will be learning from their peers and using their experiences to improve their own performance, and the performance of the people around them.

This piece was written by Presence of IT's Sarah Wojciechowski and published on LinkedIn.