Last month I wrote about how to examine the DNA of your team to identify if it can be a high performance team, so this month I thought I would explore how to build it up into a high performance team. The new generation employee has grown up with constant change. New-generation employees seek employers who recognize and nurture their potential and will provide a continuous learning environment. The transient, and at times, casual nature of this new workforce can increase attrition as those desiring more growth and development opportunities leave and go elsewhere.
Your organization will only attract and retain high quality talent if you create a high-performance learning culture. To help you understand what I mean by this, I’ve provided an overview of what this means and four steps you should take now.
What Is a High-performance Learning Culture?
A culture of learning is vital for the health of any organization. But not many people know what it means to develop an effective learning culture. We’ve worked with top-rated organizations known for leadership development and high-performance. Through these interactions, we’ve defined a learning culture as:
A set of organizational values, conventions, processes, and practices that encourage individuals—and the organization as a whole—to increase knowledge, competence, and performance.
“High-performance” simply describes the idea that the learning culture positively impacts business results. In other words, it makes a difference.
Not Convinced Yet?
High-performance learning organizations are better at things like skill and talent development. In “High Impact Learning Culture®: 40 Practices for an Empowered Enterprise” (June 10, 2010), Bersin & Associates report that organizations that have a strong learning foundation in place tend to significantly outperform their competition in several areas:
● They are 32% more likely to be first to market and have 37% percent greater employee productivity.
● They respond to customer needs 34% better than average and have a 26% greater ability to deliver quality products, which usually translates to higher profits.
● They are 58% more likely to have skills for meeting future demand and are 17% more likely to be a market share leader.
Culture is easy to talk about but hard to implement. In their research, Bersin & Associates (2010) describe seven steps to begin building a high-performance learning culture. In our organization, we focus on four critical areas above all others.
1. Integrate learning as a part of your organization’s culture of leadership. Encourage leaders and management to take ownership of the learning culture with programs that exemplify optimal leadership qualities. If organizational leaders do not believe in ongoing personal development, they will not model learning, and a learning culture will not develop..
2. Demonstrate your organization’s commitment to personal development with a great first impression. Use a high-quality, onboarding process that encourages personal responsibility for learning. If your onboarding process is lackluster or doesn’t represent your external brand, new employees will not embrace the importance of, or become fully engaged with, ongoing learning?
3. Embed learning approaches in work projects. Doing so will maximize experiential and reflective learning. We call this learning “at the point of need.” Do not think of learning activities and systems as points of destination; rather, bring the educational programs, materials and resources to the employee where they can leverage it “in-line” during their normal work routine.
4. Share knowledge and make it an organizational habit. Institutionalize knowledge-sharing by incorporating incentives, opportunities, and systems into everyday work routines. Create social learning environments that enable and encourage the consistent sharing of knowledge and lessons learned.
It’s never too late for you to incorporate a high-performance learning culture. Yes, it takes time and energy. But if you take the time, you will attract the energy. And, if you build it, the new-gen talent will not only come, but they will stay.