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Organizational benefits of a learning culture

The success of a learning organization is based on resources available and availability to its learners. [1] If you want a high-performing organization, then get employees to raise the level of training. [2] Learning must be a core value of the company. [2]

Organizations with an interest of improving see the value of constant learning, adaptation, and change. Businesses with a strong learning culture are more adaptable to change. [3] In addition to being more adaptable to change, a strong learning culture results in "lower turnover and higher productivity." [3] In economic terms, education increases the productivity and the cost-benefits ratio of workers. [4]

Organizations and its impact

Organizations can realize these benefits only if they embrace a learning culture. Marsick and Watkins point out two organizational learning climates; one where knowledge is controlled and not shared with others, and another where information is shared and learning is encouraged. [4] Good organizations are ones of respect and open communications. [1] Successful organizations are recognizing the importance of informal learning on the workforce. [5] "Companies have a responsibility for helping employees to: • identify their learning needs • identify a range of alternative learning methods • choose among those alternative methods • apply new learning to their work." [2]

Fortunately, scholars like Knowles have recognized cooperative extension service as an organization that readily adopts to ever changing needs of the community. [1]

Organizations are recognizing the positive impact that a learning environment has on the business success. [3] Organizations can help or hinder learning based on its environment and support mechanisms. [1] Organizations can positively or negatively affect the training climate for both informal and formal learning. [6] Management that recognizes the importance of a learning culture both empower the workers and provide workers with the tools and opportunities to learning. [3]

Most organizational training is provided formally whereas most training is informal. [7] Often organizations support learning by creating formal courses. [8] Organizations have not been very supportive of informal learning, what support they have provided has typically been to install software for creating communities. [8] Informal learning is hard to design for and therefore organizations go the easy route with formal learning opportunities. [8] Rosenberg advocates that working and learning should be intertwined; if a company is restricted to only formal courses both face-to-face and online, this is a sign there is a problem. [9] While learning takes place at an individual level, it is improved when it is supported by others and the organization. [4] Organizations must not micromanage an informal learning network, yet they must support and leverage it. [10]

Challenges of traditional training methods

Business cannot keep their employees trained through traditional formal training methods. [11] Periodic courses do not help employees to stay current in the rapid information changing world. [8] Employees are often left to their own to find training with little or no support from the company. [2]. When people are not trained they become frustrated and leave the organization. [12]

Hamilton questions why departments and organizations do not learn to better leverage informal learning. [12] Organizations spend money and devote energy on formal learning mechanisms but don't adequately attend to informal learning. [10] Organizations are still trying to control new technology with traditional methods; they need to adjust to new methods. [8] Organizations want to be in control, they want people to access their content because they know better. [8]

Changing to a learning culture

Changing to a learning culture is not that difficult. It is important to get all members of an organization involved, set up mechanisms to help facilitate learning, and most importantly communicate why the organization is taking this approach.

Why must organizations develop a learning culture?

Essentially, an organization must change or become irrelevant. [13] Businesses and organizations must continuously adapt and change to ever changing needs in the community and society. [1] [14] Because of continuous change and the vast amount of information available on the Internet, organizations cannot keep abreast of training in a formal training environment. [4] Additionally, organizations want increased performance out of its employees. [15] Learning is required in daily work to understand the tasks of the job and how each job integrates into the whole. [4] Organizations typically have repeating training needs due to a new hire, change of job, etc. [1]

Who in an organization is responsible for developing a learning culture?

In short, all employees have a responsibility to improve the organization. [13] However, Managers are key to learning; they know what needs to be done and where they weak areas in the organization and employees. [2] It is important that managers and supervisors take a proactive role in helping employees identify learning needs, goals and resources. Managers also need to help employees understand their role in the organization and how they can advance. They can do this by ensuring that employees are applying what they are learning. [2] Managers must create an environment conducive to informal learning. [16] Managers are key to developing the right attitude about informal learning; managers should lead by example. [17] Managers can support learning by providing opportunities for learning such as tuition assistance, professional memberships, conference support, Internet support, access to university libraries, etc. [2] Managers must also be good learning coaches. In an informal learning environment, employers must devote more time to coaching. As a result, employers must be better subject matter experts. [2] Finally, Organization leaders must also lead in learning and should lead training in the organization. They must stress its importance the organization as well as personally demonstrate they are also learning. [2]

How can organizations evolve into learning organizations?

As previously established, organizations are recognizing that formal learning is important but question how to do it economically. [17] Organizations should blend formal and informal learning to get the best results. [18] To begin with, organizations need to support informal learning; they can do this by weaving informal learning into project planning and goal setting. [14] Personal goals should be meshed with organizational goals. The importance of training and learning must be stressed throughout the organization. To emphasize the importance of training, organizations should ensure it is part of job descriptions, allocate time for training, and negotiate a training schedule. [2]

In order to improve informal learning at the organizational level, focus on teaching others how to think critically and identify learning opportunities. [4] Organizations should encourage curiosity to find new methods and solutions. [14] Leaders must remove policies that impede learning. [2] Create a work place where workers can collaborate easily. [10] Managers should encourage opportunities for employees to mingle and share ideas. [17] Opportunities for members to mingle and share ideas is critical to an informal learning environment. [16] Forward thinking organizations are using social media and collaboration tools such as blogs, wikis, and communities of practice to help foster informal learning. [19] Here are ideas for sharing ideas and learning new things:

  • place professional magazines in the restrooms
  • discuss new learning and reading at staff meetings.
  • have employees write book reviews
  • encourage professional membership
  • create an organizational library
  • review business films
  • share in crosstalks
  • share the happenings of professional organizations
  • become a mentor
  • organize training opportunities [17]

The world operates in a business sense that has dramatically changed due to the use of technology; it is important that learning stay abreast of these changes. [11] Methods need to be developed to help workers learn when they need it most at the moment when it is needed. [4] Organizations need to ensure resources are available to the learner so that they will stay abreast of current methods and technologies. [20] Businesses must use any strategy possible to keep up with a quicker information cycle to gain a competitive advantage. [19]

Organizations must establish trustworthy resourcesas well as develop directories to credible resources. [4], [21] Online resources are often used to facilitate learning. Whenever possible, point learners to additional resources while teaching courses. [4] Here are additional ideas for aiding employees to access learning resources:

  • competency maps
  • learning counselors
  • learning guides
  • learning leaders
  • peer coaching
  • Internet access [2]

Organizational leaders at all levels should lead from the front and support learning and professional development. In order for a program to be successful leaders must not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. Here are suggestions for walking the walk:

  • pay for training
  • reward learning champions
  • make learning a job requirement
  • share the books and articles leaders are reading
  • develop a strong on-the-job program
  • give employees permission to isolate themselves for learning
  • make quiet work areas for study time
  • recognize learning achievements [4], [2]

Ideas to develop learning in an organization:

  • Create informal learning opportunities
  • Have a running question for staff meeting, for example, "What has been learned to improve organization?"
  • Use technology to share knowledge
  • Create a help desk for informal queries
  • Convert instructors into mentors and facilitators
  • Build learning into all programs
  • Create a learning resource center
  • Develop self-instruction material
  • Conduct a supervisory training program to orient staff to learning management
  • Recognize those pursuing informal learning
  • Create climate that fosters learning [22], [4]

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4 | Section 5 | Section 6


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