Travelling from office to office delivering training programmes it’s clear to see the many types of cultures within the working environment. Some companies will be operating without a clear idea of what culture they are trying to instil between their employees whilst others have a stringent code to promote their way of working. All working cultures have their benefits and drawbacks, but one of the most recent to emerge is the ‘learn-it-all’ culture.
The early adopters
While the culture itself likely existed before 2014, it was in that year that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella coined the term and made clear that it was the future for Microsoft’s operations. At its core, a learning culture embraces trying new, innovative ideas, encouraging invention and learning from the inevitable mistakes that arise. These concepts are centred on a Growth Mindset, an idea advocated by psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, and further expounded upon by psychologist Angela Duckworth in Grit.
Learning cultures unite employees through curiosity and a desire to progress in their professional development; innovation and adventure are encouraged through a creative staff base. One company that has long held a ‘learn-it-all’ culture is Tesla. Since the beginning, founder and CEO Elon Musk has welcomed innovative ideas from all members of staff. He famously once said there was no hierarchy within Tesla, that all staff should speak to whoever they require at the time to speed up innovation. Today Tesla is viewed as one of the most forward-thinking companies across all industries. But the question is, how can you instil a ‘learn-it-all’ culture within your business to replicate the successes experienced by the likes of Microsoft and Tesla?
Introducing a new culture to the workplace
Introducing coaching, mentoring and sharing schemes into the workplace expedites the spread of knowledge, encouraging the sharing of practices between team members. The easiest way to develop an environment promoting learning is via team meetings. It is recommended that a monthly half or ideally all-day meeting is scheduled focused mostly on sharing and learning.
Stretching these monthly events across an entire working day may sound far-fetched to begin with, but it offers the scope to implement set schedules when it comes to learning. Here are a few recommended items for the agenda:
- Maintain a KPI focused performance update to kick off each meeting. Utilise this time to highlight members of the team that achieve well against outputs (orders) and to recognise those who for the results of their inputs (forward-thinking indicators)
- Implement an item where key members of each department or team can share new or existing portfolio items relating to a set monthly theme. By introducing a theme for each meeting there is the opportunity to choose key areas to focus on based on the previous meeting.
- Introduce a session for small groups, or ideally pairs, can discuss their experiences since the previous meeting. What successes have they achieved for the business? What failures? What did they learn from that failure? People learn from experience, providing the chance for team members to share their own stories can spread best practice and stoke innovative solutions.
- Even something as simple as a show and tell can help share ideas and thinking. Possible items to share could include a book on the industry, new approaches or techniques from market leaders, or even a selection of work from the previous month that can be used to demonstrate a particular value.
Outside the meeting room
A successful ‘learn-it-all’ culture is a 24/7 operation, not a single days’ work a month. Therefore it is imperative to implement systems throughout the business. Establish a supportive culture of coaching and mentoring across teams which enables a consistent sharing between staff. Within this be sure to encourage members to use their own ideas at the first instance to overcome challenges rather than relying on their mentor or coach.
Allowing dedicated peer-to-peer coaching facilitated through an active buddy system helps ingrain learning into the daily process. Not only is this beneficial for the culture, but a bonus for new starters or less experienced members of staff who can enter the workforce knowing there is a support structure in place to guide them during their development.
In essence, a ‘learn-it-all’ culture incorporates a caring, supportive environment where innovation is encouraged and experiences are shared. Things can and likely will go wrong when undertaking new ideas but there are huge benefits available through an invigorated workforce keen and able to contribute to the business. You may not be the next Tesla, but you never know what innovation could arise from a ‘learn-it-all’ culture.