Producing Results Blog

Why Your Workplace Needs to Be a Classroom

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I’ve written quite a bit about how and why leaders need to be continuous learners. I believe that, as a leader, if you’re not continuously — and intentionally — learning, then you’re not really a leader.

I mean, c’mon — would a real leader ever think, “Well, that’s it. I’ve learned everything I need to. My brain is full, so I’m done.” Outside of Congress, that is.

But let’s leave aside for a moment the question of whether you, the leader, are actively pursuing continuous learning, and let’s ask a different question:

What are you doing to foster continuous learning within your team?

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What are you doing to foster continuous learning within your team? #leadership Click To Tweet

Why is it so important to ensure that your team members have the opportunity to learn and grow in the workplace? Consider this:

  • Employees who feel that their workplace gives them an opportunity to grow are more engaged in their work.
  • Employees who are given the opportunity to learn and grow become more and more valuable to the team and the organization.
  • Employees who feel that their workplace gives them an opportunity to grow are less likely to leave, which increases retention and decreases the costs of replacement.
  • Continuous learning and growth throughout the organization is a major, sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Employees who are continuously learning tend to come up with more creative ideas.

A study by the Brookings Institution revealed that 60 percent of an organization’s competitive advantage is derived from internal advancements in knowledge, innovation, and learning.

To put all of this in shorthand: When your team continues to learn, it’s good for them, it’s good for you, and it’s good for your organization. [Note to younger readers: shorthand used to be a thing.] When your team continues to learn, it’s good for them and it’s good for your organization. #leadership Click To Tweet

So, given all the benefits, how can you create an environment of continuous learning for your team members? Here are a few ideas:

  1. First and foremost, communicate to your team that that you believe continuous learning is important. Remember, your team members take their cues from you, and if they sense that you’re not really sold on this, then neither will they be.
  2. Make learning resources available. This doesn’t just mean the sources of learning (e.g., books, trade journals, online courses, etc.). You also have to give your team members the time to learn. Let’s face it: if they’re trying to cram 10 hours of work into an 8-hour day, five days a week, continuous learning isn’t exactly going to make it to the front burner.
  3. When and where appropriate, provide tuition support for those team members who want to take fee-based courses. (You can decide whether you want to restrict this solely to courses related to their specific job.)
  4. Have team members share learning that they’ve gained from their reading or their courses. If you make this a regular event, it will help make learning a key part of the team culture.
  5. Bring in outside speakers for a monthly “Lunch and Learn” session. Again, the topics can be specifically work-related, or you can occasionally bring in an outside topic just for fun. (And don’t be too quick to rule out these outside topics! Sometimes the best, most creative ideas come from the most unlikely sources.)

Remember the shorthand: When your team continues to learn, it’s good for them, it’s good for you, and it’s good for your organization.

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About the Author:

For 15 years, Executive Producer and Hall of Fame speaker Bill Stainton, CSP led his team to more than 100 Emmy Awards and 10 straight years of #1 ratings. Today Bill helps leaders achieve those kinds of results--in THEIR world and with THEIR teams.
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