Today’s technology has given employees privileges to access and share information anywhere, anytime to get tasks done. However, these privileges are not similar with “learning” at work. For employees to continue growing and thriving, they need a culture of learning. It takes community work to build a learning culture and this work starts from the team leader. When established effectively, learning communities create a continuous harmony where employees are flowing in a sequence of contemplation, problem-solving and hard work to achieve goals. The infusion of learning culture within the workplace community can be a powerful fuel for change and improvement that leads to a stronger workforce.
“A learning community is typically described as a place where people engage in a shared learning process, with common interests and motivations to improve their performance in a particular way – Lars Hyland.”
One of the key factors that stimulates a successful learning community is a culture of knowledge sharing. By managing knowledge properly, employees have access to valuable information and deliver better results. Knowledge sharing also improves communication among employees, significantly simplifies work and keeps employees morale up. It allows team members to express their knowledge and connect over shared passions. The advantage does not only develop new experience and skills in individuals but it also does so across the organization.
How team leaders can help shape the learning community?
Have a growth and learning mindset
As stated in HBR, mindsets are like mental lenses for leaders that guide what information they take in and use to navigate the situations they encounter. Mindsets motivates what leaders do and why. Team leaders who cultivate a growth and learning mindset are the ones that can help shape learning culture in their workplace community.
A growth mindset is a belief that oneself can change their talents, abilities and intelligence. Decades of studies have found that leaders with a growth mindset are more mentally prepared to take challenges, see advantage of feedback, follow the most effective problem-solving strategies, provide educational feedback to employees and take full efforts to achieve goals.
A learning mindset involves being enthusiastic toward increasing one’s competence and mastering something new. Leaders with a learning mindset are more mentally ready to increase their competence, engage in deep-level learning strategies. They are also flexible, persistent, cooperative and tend to perform at a higher level.
Have the mentality of teacher yet don’t be afraid to take the student’s seat
As a team leader, you have worked hard, you have failed and you have learned lessons. A study from Edelman revealed that 68 percent of people want to hear their leader’s personal success story and 73 percent want to know about the obstacles their leaders have overcome. Sharing your journey as a leader can strengthen relationships, build trust and encourage resilience.
A culture of learning is where every individual is dedicated to improve themselves and others. One thing to keep in mind; sharing your knowledge is as important as welcome knowledge.
Design a learning culture that is aligned with business goals
In order to sustain this culture, you need to align learning with your business goals. Building a learning community means fostering long-term investment for your company. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how these investments will contribute to your company’s vision and mission. Work with your team to make it happen. Team leaders who personally and financially demonstrate this investment, will create a learning community where employees naturally seek and share knowledge.
How Team Leaders Make a Learning Community Succeed?
Passion & Purpose
If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion and it will lead you right into your purpose. Clarify your purpose by asking what is the why behind everything you do. Knowing what your community wants to accomplish is very empowering. It helps set direction to reach the goals.
After you establish your purposes, organize logistics. Create guidelines about how the community will function, who will be the leader or mediator, what are the agenda and activity, will it be conducted virtually or in person. It will help the learning community avoid communication breakdowns and encourage collaboration over competition.
Power of People
It is said that the power of people is stronger than the people in power. In its nature, community does not exist without people and the people behind the learning community determine how impactful the group will be. Building connections that form a sense of communities among team members is essential to their ability to work together. For a learning community to work, there needs to be regular and valued interactions among members.
Personalize & Actualize
It’s crucial for leaders to acknowledge that each individual has different learning styles, strengths and weaknesses that makes each learning community unique. This being the case, the learning strategies must adapt to the dynamic personalities of the community. Leaders need to ensure that everyone collaborates and works upon each other’s ideas.
Due to the unique nature of the learning community, the solution might be unique as well. In order to maximize employee’s learning potential, a personalized learning experience that fits their needs, strengths, passions and interests must be identified. From art, business, to personal wisdom and skills, every team has hidden talents with a wide array of fascinating interests and insights. By allowing community members to share knowledge from outside of ‘business as usual’, new relationships are formed and existing ones can grow closer. Personalizing your learning experience also means that you have contents that are more accessible, visually appealing and more engaging to the learner.
Team leaders who are leading by example, as both a teacher and a learner, can foster a culture that’s open to growth. Therefore, building and sustaining a learning community is essential for a company to thrive in uncertain market conditions and respond well to change. The approach must facilitate the flexibility needed to honor every person’s uniqueness, so they get the most out of learning communities.
Keep in mind that the learning community can exist either online or offline, making them ideal for both remote and non-remote companies.
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