Sustainable Learning in Organisations

In the last article posted, we touched on why storytelling makes it easier for us to learn. The intention is to help employees learn, but there is a caveat; they must want it. The answer lies in creating a culture of sustainable learning within the organisation.


For some time now, companies and individuals in the workplace tend to prioritise deadlines, revenue and profit pursuits, over learning and development. However, iIt is also not unusual for companies to provide for the enlightened selected few (eg. high potentials / HIPOS), with carte-blanche learning accessibility. So why only the selected few?


How can we build an ecosystem of learning, to support the rest of the organisation by ensuring that they have access to it? The answer lies in developing a learning culture that is sustainable.


Bersin by Deloitte reports that companies with continuous learning cultures enjoy a number of benefits, such as:

  • 37% have greater employee productivity

  • 26% have greater ability to deliver quality products

  • 34% have better response to customer needs

  • 58% are more prepared to meet future demand

  • 17% are more likely to be market share leaders

  • 46 % are more likely to be first to market


One untapped resource is peer-to-peer coaching and learning. If executed properly, one can only imagine the multiplier effect it can have in building a learning culture.


Consider the following:


Reframing Mindsets Open To Possibilities

People with growth mindsets are open to coaching as an opportunity to develop and grow. On the other hand, it is not unusual for people with fixed mindsets to view coaching to be an attack on their capability and hence become defensive.

So the next time before unconscious bias sets in, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I gain by holding on to this bias

  2. What would I lose if I let it go

  3. What’s important about this gain/loss

Equip With Skill of Giving Feedback as a Gift

Pretty much undeveloped I dare say. Giving effective feedback involves a combination of adjacency skills such as storytelling, unconscious bias development and active listening. Not only do we need to learn how to give feedback but also how to receive it. Historically, people had little need to know their strengths because a person’s education gave them the position or line of work they were in. But now with constant disruption in every sense of the word, people are thrown with a lot of possibilities for some or none for others. Most people think they know what they are good at. Do you know that you need to have feedback to discover what you are good at ? The intention is to put yourself in a role where your strengths produce results….. right ?

Practise Acknowledgement

People want and expect appreciation. The upside is, that people will go that extra mile just because you noticed their efforts. They will feel more positive and confident, as it also acts as a form of feedback. Look at it another way, acknowledgement when done correctly helps shape behaviours and competencies at the workplace. Don’t let unconscious bias stop you from implementing this practise of acknowledgement as a company culture, thinking that you need huge resources that would put a dent in your budget. It can be a great motivation booster plus improve workplace relationships, provided it’s genuine of course.O h, good news. There are simple practises you can embed in your team routine to ensure it’s in employee muscles. How you know you are missing the mark, is when your direct reports or your peers start withholding respectful gestures and give minimum effort.

Organise a Peer-to-Peer Learning Initiative

Set up a routine programme where employees get to share and deliver learning, based on industry/ domain knowledge / leadership skills, work-related or not. Google calls it their “Googler 2 Googler” program, a peer-to-peer training initiative. You can start small. No need to have formal peer learning for it to happen in the workplace. Harvard Business Review reports that 55% of employees often turn to their peers when they want to learn something new and 79% of CEOs worldwide worry that widening skills gaps threaten company growth. These provide important insights to Human Capital Leaders don’t you agree ?


Our role as People Activators at Engaging Leaders, is to help organisations structure learning in ways that will make it stick.