Corporations look at employee development as a way to increase employee engagement. Engagement is worthy, but the real purpose of development is to increase employee performance. And superior performance is only possible with a culture that supports and acknowledges employees for their growth.

Culture refers to the habits, thinking, beliefs, and customs of a group or society. When applied to learning and development, it refers to the values, processes, and organizational behavior that encourages employees to continually increase their knowledge and improve their performance.

Why create a high-impact learning culture?

Companies with high-impact learning cultures experience three times greater profit growth than their competitors over a four-year period (Research) The reason? Employees with current knowledge and skills have a direct impact on their company’s performance and ability to adapt.

Here are 4 steps for encouraging a culture of learning for your employees.

  1. Communicate Development Regularly  

Key to success is to ensure that development is part of regular conversations about performance between employees and their manager. These conversations should be:

  • Planned frequently—as often as it makes sense to employees and managers
  • Put into agenda items to ensure that they’re not missed.

These conversations are an opportunity to get information on workload, performance issues, and progress on personal development. Helpful, open-ended questions are a manager’s best friend:

  1. What are you pleased with about your development plan?
  2. What have you learned and applied so far from this development task?
  3. Are you having any issues or challenges?
  4. Do you have any concerns about your workload?
  5. Is there anything I can do to help?

Keep development top of mind by talking about it and recording progress, particularly on how employees can transfer their knowledge to others and apply it in their day-to-day work.

  1. Tie Learning & Development to Organization Goals 

Performance management is about getting managers and employees together to plan, monitor, and review employee productivity and contribution. Employees need to see how what they learn contributes to the organization’s success.

A research reported that more than two-thirds of high performers “use cascading goals to connect business and learning objectives, while only half of everyone else uses them.” The report also confirmed that there must be some degree of alignment between learning strategy and the overall goals of the business, revealing that nearly 60 percent of organizations that responded said learning is not aligned with business goals.

When employees’ goals and competencies are aligned with the organization, they’re motivated and empowered to make an optimal contribution, fueling productivity.

  1. Set Time for Development 

Employees need time and space to participate in learning and development. Start by putting learning development directly into the organization’s mission statement and vision. This signals from the highest level that the organization is committed to and values continuous learning. Employees can be confident when they allocate the time they need to work on their personal development plan.

They require time to build a plan, discuss it with their manager and put the plan into action. Make the time and reap the rewards that follow from engaged, motivated employees.

  1. Monitor & Evaluate Employee Performance  

Monitoring and evaluating is the key to unlocking an employee’s full potential because it builds accountability into the plan. The most widely used framework is SMART goals—specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound.

Set, manage, and reassess individual goal and development progress during one-on-ones, reviews, or conversations. Employee productivity will only improve when performance is monitored as part of a regular check-in process.

BONUS: Time and Resources Are Finite 

Managers have limited time and resources for promoting a learning culture. Mastering and holding regular one-on-one meetings is essential. Recurring meetings, focused on discussing employee performance and development, help managers engage employees, drive meaningful conversations, ask the right questions, and provide coaching and feedback, and reinforce the link between what employees learn and the bottom-line success of the organization.


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