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Leadership & Culture

9 essentials for creating a learning culture you can bank on

The most successful corporate learning cultures aren’t imposed from the top down.


As seasoned L&D and HR leaders know, they are voluntary and self-perpetuating, cultivated from a mixture of your talent’s own energy and a myriad of other influences and conditions, from your corporate vision to the technology and tools that enable a culture to flourish. 


This can make building one in the fast-changing banking and finance world complex.


While a new online learning platform might result in a powerful upgrade the tech stack your L&D and HR teams have in place to facilitate an invigorated learning culture, it can never switch your institution on to learning all by itself. The effort is multi-faceted.


So how can you cultivate a learning culture that gears your institution for growth in 2022? Here are 10 essential elements that make for a good start to a growth-focused learning culture.


1. Psychological safety 


Employees won’t engage in a learning culture if they lack the foundational workplace conditions to make that possible. Chief among these is psychological safety, defined as employees being able to show themselves without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status or career.


Psychological safety encourages learning behaviours like asking for help, sharing informal suggestions or challenging how things are done without fear of negative consequences. It’s been shown to result in faster organisational innovation, part of which is collaborative learning.


2. Leadership


Leaders play a big role in psychological safety, and also need to show commitment to a learning culture through words and deeds. There’s no use asking employees to embrace learning when leaders are not creating supportive conditions or are only paying lip service to the culture.


This requires strong L&D principles, goals and policies. It will require the buy-in of leaders at the most senior level, as well as managers and team leads. If employees watch what you do, more than what you say, advocacy of learning from the top is a fast-track to a learning culture.


3. Time


We hear a lot about our talent being maxed out. We expect people to perform at the top of their game, then on top of that, we ask them to commit more time to learning so they can perform their roles well into the future. Time is a great challenge to any learning project.


Is this realistic in 2022? Creating a future ready workforce might require allocating time for learning. Allowing employees to time block calendars can support this, perhaps by allowing them to flexibly spend small pockets of learning within a set time period or team ‘sprint’.


4. Simplification


Habit formation and behaviour change experts talk a lot about ‘activation energy’. In short, the harder something is to do, the more energy is required to get started. On the other hand, if you make something easier to do, you reduce the energy barrier required to get action started. 


The same goes for learning behaviour. Institutions can boost learning activity by making it easier to access and complete. For example, we’ve built a cybersecurity learning culture through bite-sized learning content that is highly consumable from any device, any time.


5. Motivation


Employees in today's market often come to employers primed with their own career ambitions, expectations and detailed plans. Employers can capitalise on this energy - or encourage it and keep it alight if it is flagging - by integrating motivation within their learning program.


Part of this comes through healthy peer relationships that encourage development. However, another way is to create clear, defined skills pathways within your institution, giving employees clear visual representations of the hard or soft skills they need to progress to promotion.


6. Personalisation


The roles and responsibilities of employees in a complex organisation are different, as are the tasks and problems they face and the tools they use. On top of that, each individual will have their own professional development interests within the context of the team or the industry.


This is where personalisation comes in. Employers need to be flexible enough to accommodate the interests, ambitions and skills gaps of individuals, and deliver responsive learning programs, potentially through adaptive, personalised learning platforms like Go1.


7. Recognition


Employees are more likely to start and continue learning if they’re recognised for it. Recognition simplified is the pat on the back that lets your employees know their efforts to learn and contribute - the behaviours that you want to encourage - are being noticed and appreciated.


Recognition can happen in a range of forms, whether it’s through leader and team feedback, automated digital high fives, or issuing digital credentials with an LMS. The rise of millennials in the workforce means that best practice is now regular recognition, preferably in real time.


8. Technology


Technology should never be adopted for technology’s sake, but it can provide the tools that allow learning cultures to thrive, through delivering many of the essentials mentioned here, whether that’s mobile content delivery, regular recognition, or personalised skills pathways.


Banking and finance organisations are in a position to take advantage of technologies that deliver learning culture benefits. For example, managing workforce skills management with a workforce development platform could provide strong foundations for a learning culture.


9. Purpose


While we come to purpose last, it can be the driving force behind a good learning culture. An institution’s purpose – for example, serving the community through financial services, and doing it better than competitors – will encourage collective action and learning towards a goal.


A sense of purpose comes to employees through meaningful relationships with colleagues and clients, a clear understanding of the impact they are having at work on clients and community, and a sense of personal and professional growth (which incidentally, comes through learning).


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