A learning culture is one of the most productive working environments. It promotes collaboration among colleagues, which organically leads to social interaction with employees, which creates camaraderie. It stimulates creative and strategic thinking, fills in skills gaps for streamlined efficiency, and encourages professional development.
Creating a learning culture requires a strategic plan. Starting off on the right foot is important. Setting proper expectations and adopting the right perspective will be foundational in creating a learning culture that will bear fruit. Recognizing that every employee brings valuable expertise from various industries is a good place to start. Understanding that each employee has experience with different team structures and company cultures will help manage expectations, as well.
Once a learning culture is established, it begins to thrive when employees build rapport with each other. This can be difficult for many personalities starting out, especially people who aren’t social by nature, or new hires who are still trying to get acclimated. When you are able to step outside of your comfort zone and create valuable relationships with your colleagues, you reap all the benefits of working in a learning culture. To encourage team members to get more comfortable with appropriate information sharing in the workplace, here are 5 tips to help.
A simple first step to creating a rapport with your colleagues is to get to know them better. This doesn’t have to be a big task. If you are more comfortable one-on-one, consider asking a colleague to join you for a coffee break. If you do better in a group setting, perhaps organizing a lunch with a small group of coworkers could be a good first step. If you aren’t comfortable diving into personal conversation right off the bat, engage them in work-related conversation first. Ask about their professional background or what they like about their job. This type of communication can organically shift to sharing more personal information where you can start to identify commonalities for a deeper connection.
Once you start to gain insight into the lives of your colleagues, you can easily find some common ground. Whether you discover shared hobbies or interests, or you relate on the level of family or children, it fosters familiarity. This helps form bonds. By establishing a common ground, it’s easier to strike up conversations and create more meaningful interactions that will lend themselves to a fruitful learning culture.
Always be authentic. A learning culture thrives when employees feel valued and respected. If you aren’t being true to who you are, meaningful connections won’t be established. If you are discovering that your personal interests aren’t matching up with your colleagues, don’t force it or fake it. You can still create a good rapport by being cordial.
Extending courtesy and using good communication skills will help you create rapport very quickly. Always take the time to listen to your colleagues and use your nonverbal communication skills to demonstrate respect. Things like eye contact are powerful tools to improve engagement.
This is the crux of a learning culture. The more people get in the habit of sharing what works and what doesn’t, the stronger you build your learning culture. This is where best practices are created. People are encouraged to figure out new ways of doing things. They are recognized for that initiative. Be proactive in helping each other complete tasks. It drives productivity and efficiency. Engaging with colleagues, collaborating, and learning from one another have endless benefits.
Building relationships and sharing information with colleagues foster a learning culture. But, it’s important to note that you don't have to engage in uncomfortable intimate conversations or spend time outside of the workplace with your colleagues to establish a learning culture at work. Just having a positive attitude and a friendly demeanor with your colleagues can still help build team cohesion and a sense of community.