The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations around the world to quickly adapt to new ways of working. The rapid push of digital innovation and flexible working arrangements ushered in what would quickly become the “new normal”: the hybrid workplace.
While leaders have embraced and employees expect this new way of working, it takes intentional planning and action to cultivate productive cultures that allow people and businesses to thrive. In fact, 61% of global leaders believe the hybrid workplace will require a significant shift in corporate culture.
A world of ongoing uncertainty and disruption demands agility from individuals and organizations. To stay nimble and innovative, you need to seize this opportunity to root your culture in learning.
Below are three ways to instill a learning culture in your hybrid workplace to ensure that every employee in your organization has the tools and skills they need to meet future challenges.
1. Build psychological safety
High levels of psychological safety at work allow people to feel comfortable talking early and often, asking questions and admitting mistakes. This sense of security is the foundation of a learning culture in which employees can challenge assumptions and grow together.
It is important that positive risk taking and learning from “failure” is modeled throughout all ranks of your organization. The novelty of the hybrid working model should provide ample opportunity for trial and error, experimentation and discovery.
Encourage employees, especially senior managers, to admit their mistakes and share their knowledge with team members. Because culture is driven by behaviors, it’s critical that your leaders adopt the behaviors they want to see. Taking interpersonal risks and learning from those risks to achieve something greater shows that learning is valued, which helps instill this mindset throughout the culture.
Transparent communication and open dialogue are also essential. Instead of trying to show employees that everything is understood, senior managers should be upfront that changes are a work in progress. This leads to a strong culture in which groups are willing to listen, invite different opinions, and learn together.
2. Foster learning agility
As navigating a hybrid workforce continues to take people out of their comfort zone, employees with learning agility skills are able to adapt better in uncertain environments.
Learning agility is a skill that can be developed. You can help your team members adopt an agile mindset by encouraging them to embrace the unknown and stay curious as they challenge the norms of the old workplace. Prioritize developing skills that are important in the hybrid workplace (like emotional intelligence) so employees are better able to communicate and build relationships.
In the evolving hybrid workplace, there are many unknowns, so creating a culture rooted in learning and agility can help employees better adapt and respond to what comes next.
3. Prioritize inclusive learning
Learning and development opportunities were often reserved for an organization’s senior executives and individuals considered to have high potential. In today’s hybrid workplace, where talent is increasingly competitive, employees expect their employers to provide them with opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers.
To show that your organization believes learning is for everyone, make development opportunities inclusive and accessible across the organization. Each company will have a unique approach to scaling learning, but regardless of the situation, delivery formats should be fair and include asynchronous, virtual, face-to-face, self-paced, and social learning. Just as employees seek more flexibility in the workplace, they appreciate an array of learning opportunities to meet the needs of different learning styles. Don’t forget to ask for feedback and adjust your plans along the way.
Remember that a true learning culture provides learning support, not only in the form of tools, but also by encouraging leaders to allocate time for themselves and their teams to absorb, practice new skills and share what they learn from their experiences. Be sure to treat learning as something that happens on the job and as a key deliverable. This means setting and rewarding learning goals for your team and supporting tactics such as giving permission to decline meetings when team members are engaged in learning experiences.
Build your new culture with care and intention
Culture change does not happen overnight and it is difficult to change behaviors. To truly change your workplace culture, you need to devote time and attention and see your organization for what it is: a collective force made up of individuals with unique needs you can meet and potential. that you can help cultivate. When employees recognize that their organization values both individual and collective growth, you’ll foster a culture of forward learning and gain engagement from all team members.
Tools like CCL Passport® can provide your organization with a comprehensive, adaptable and personalized leadership development solution, enabling you to achieve real business results and foster an inclusive learning culture with scalable solutions.