Creating a Positive Learning Environment at the Workplace

SwapnilKamat, Founder & CEO, Work Better TrainingAn employee's motivation to learn, grow and work is heavily influenced by their environment. Creating a positive work environment aids employees in their journey of learning and yields the best results for individuals as well as the organization. In today’s age of dynamic workplaces, it becomes all the more important for organizations to invest their time and resources in creating such an environment. If people don’t spend their time in learning new skills and adding to their knowledge, they will soon become redundant in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment, eventually leading the company to go out of business.

There are numerous studies that have shown that organizations which have been successful in developing a learning culture have seen increased productivity, greater innovation, an improved & satisfied mindset in employees, and an enhanced ability in their employees to adapt to change. I’m listing down a few tried and tested methods that are sure to help you create a positive learning environment at your workplace.

1. Rope in the Leaders

Organizational behavior trickles down from the top management. To develop a culture of learning at your workplace, you must ensure a buy-in from the leaders in your organization. When senior management and leaders walk the talk and model a behavior that tells others in the organization that motivation, constant learning and critical thinking are essential to growing both professionally and personally, it creates a positive impact on the minds of the other employees. They start emulating what the leaders do and in the process, they inculcate constant learning into their daily lives.

2. Develop a Growth Mindset

Cultivating a growth mindset organization-wide will help drive your employees to seek out knowledge and information proactively. Be it learning a new skill by doing a course or seeking the help of colleagues or reading the latest news about your industry online, employees will come to associate learning with growth and feel motivated to contribute to the growth mindset of the organization. New employees too will imbibe the same mindset when they see everyone else around them doing the same. A growth mindset yields higher performance because people learn from their mistakes and seek out challenges actively.

If people don’t spend their time in learning new skills and adding to their knowledge, they will soon become redundant in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment

3. Foster Collaboration

It is a known fact that collaboration is one of the best methods of learning. Think about it, we learn constantly from our interactions with the people around us daily. It is the same at the workplace too.Employees who converse, discuss and brainstorm on ideas are forever ready to help their colleagues. They share their knowledge with colleagues freely. Working collaboratively sparks team creativity and camaraderie, which in turn encourages people to be more invested in their work and their colleagues.

4. Be Open to New Ideas

A good way of making your employees/team feel responsible, accountable and positive towards their own development and contribution in the organization is being open to any new ideas they come up with. Don't turn down a concept or idea because it seems difficult or challenging. When you involve your people in creating a learning environment, they feel valued and get more involved in the process. They feel motivated to come up with new ideas and share them with you. If the idea is good, it can turn into a new project or product. If the idea fails, they lean from their mistake. Either way, there is learning for them and the organization.

5. Recognize, Appreciate and Reward

A growth mindset, a learning environment – all of these can be cultivated in your organization only when you reward what you say you value. If you want your people to get into the habit of continuous learning, then you must recognize those of your employees who do so, appreciate them publicly in front of their co-workers and reward them for the same. It is basic human nature to be recognized and appreciated. When you do so for employees who are genuinely show interest in and seek learning, you validate their efforts. Showing genuine gratitude for your team is the quickest way to reinforce positive behavior. One of the biggest complaints from employees is that they don't feel appreciated. When you appreciate your employees for something that you expect them to do, it instills the notion that their hard work is acknowledged and appreciated, and encourages other employees to strive for the same recognition. They understand what they're doing well, and do more of it.

6.Empower Your Team with the Right Tools

Once you’ve created a growth mindset within your organization, you need to provide them the tools to learn. Give your team the tools they need to learn, grow, develop, and challenge themselves. Keep the discussion ongoing when it comes to the needs, opportunities, tasks, obstacles, projects, what is working and what is not working. It is absolutely critical to the development and maintenance of a positive learning environment. Regular training and development is one such tool. Create a formal training plan for your employees based on their developmental needs. To ingrain a culture of learning, make regular training programs mandatory for all individuals in the organization.

Creating a culture of learning at the workplace takes time. You cannot do it overnight. What you can do is, take small steps one at a time and do it regularly. After all, maintaining a learning culture takes consistency and daily awareness.