This article comes from Entrepreneur.
Supporting learning strengthens employee engagement, which sustains your firm when economic uncertainty looms.
While it’s true that a lot of any workplace culture depends on the views and attitudes of the people at the top (i.e., you), creating a culture of learning in your company will be much easier if you hire people who are eager, lifelong learners. Plus, those who enjoy learning are likely to be happy in an environment that encourages learning. And happiness increases productivity.
Policy is integral to corporate culture. If you make lifelong learning part of your company’s policy, it becomes part of the DNA of how your company operates. Such a policy has the power to impact decisions at every level.
This means explicitly defining ongoing learning (or “always be learning,” as we say) as a core company value. That implies you have already thought through your company’s core values: If you haven’t, now would be a good time!
These days, it’s standard for business owners to embrace the “fail fast” ethos of Silicon Valley – but are we applying the same rule to our employees? To ensure a culture of learning, it’s important to make sure we’re not punishing mistakes. Mistakes happen when people try something new, which is the kind of behavior that leads to breakthroughs and innovations.
It may feel counterintuitive to reward failures, but finding a way to do so (while filtering for failures from gross negligence) can help nurture a culture of learning.
It’s easy to laser-focus on perfecting whatever product or service we’re building to solve whatever problem inspired us to start our business, and that’s not a bad thing. But too often, our definitions of “perfection” come only from within — that is, whatever a company’s leaders have defined as desirable.
In reality, customers can be a valuable source of learning. Customer feedback may highlight areas you never considered problematic, or they suggest features you would never have thought of. To maintain a culture of learning, be sure your employees know how to listen to customer feedback and are empowered to respond to it in creative ways.
When lean times hit, a customer base that believes you care about it can offer significant rewards. Customers who have an affinity to your brand are less likely to abandon you when money’s tight.
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