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Building a culture of continuous learning

Automation, new employment models, or multi-generational teams are driving businesses to re-imagine their organisational structures and approach to talent management. As the work landscape continues to evolve, embracing learning and development can help to drive employee engagement and business growth.

According to The Global Talent Trends 2019 Report, three quarters of HR leaders expect a significant industry disruption over the next three years. The majority of respondents believe that artificial intelligence and automation will replace one in five of their organisation’s jobs by 2022. On the other hand, it is estimated that AI and automation will also create 58 million new jobs. All in all, there is a lot of change happening in the workplace.

The appetite for learning something new

Great leaders are great learners. It’s their constant drive to improve that sets them aside from others. Learning is a central part of business success, especially during times of turbulent change, as it enables flexibility and agility. Particularly in the digital age, what we can learn is more relevant than what we know and employees who are fast learners and have the ability to adapt quickly to changing work demands are a great asset to any organisation.

Our brains are designed for development and learning. While some skills come easier than others, we are wired to engage and grow in endless areas from learning to ride a bike through to mastering a new language. Developing new skills might be overwhelming to start with, but in order to learn something new, we inevitably have to focus on what we don’t know, rather than what we know. Not only formal training, but day to day interventions shape our professional lives – adaptive learning from our mentors, colleagues and peers are all critical elements in our learning journey.

Most of our learning occurs at work - we learn through those who manage and work with us. Learning isn’t just about spending the day in the classroom. It’s about day to day micro-learning, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, coaching, mentoring and feedback. Making continuous learning part of the organisational culture also means better understanding of how people learn and finding the most effective way of delivery that benefits both the employees and the business.

Driven from the top, supported from the bottom up

Creating a learning culture should be driven from the top, with the right infrastructure to support it from the bottom up. Managers should encourage continuous learning with supportive behaviours and coach their team members, instead of simply suggesting that team members participate in formal training or take an online course. A successful learning environment recognises employees when they make progress on a new initiative, even if they don’t hit the end goal. Learning can also be supported by not hiding failures, as this creates an environment that encourages transparency and allows for teams to discuss issues without blame.

A good starting point for leaders is to open up about their own development and their personal areas for improvement. By doing so, it becomes more acceptable for everyone else to do the same. Leaders who want to create an environment of learning should demonstrate themselves that they are committed to develop new skills. By talking about learning and development in a positive way, leaders set a tone that encourages people to try new behaviours and adopt new skills.

At Acumen, we offer customised coaching programmes to help managers to develop their teams by using day to day work as a learning experience. To find out more about how we can help you, please contact

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