by Evan Hackel
It might work to say to people, “Go find out about the latest trends in our industry.” But in my experience, people are inspired to do that when company leaders are lifelong learners themselves. In other words, great learning leaders model the kind of learning behavior they would like to inspire in others. Then they actively share their discoveries in meetings and in casual encounters with people.
The more excited you become about what you are learning, the more people will follow suit. One effective approach is to start meetings by talking about something you have learned, and then asking other to contribute too. Another strategy is to start book groups where employees read and discuss important new books; provide the books and hold the sessions during company hours, not lunch hours, to reinforce the idea that learning is a “must do,” not a “nice to have” activity.
Open the Doors and Seek Information in New Places
When you stop to think about it, you are surrounded by people who can help everyone in your company learn. They include vendors, executives at other companies, members of professional organizations, and more. As I wrote in my book Ingaging Leadership, you can learn a great deal from companies in other sectors that are targeting the same customers you are – in other words, competing for the same dollars. How are they marketing, delivering customer service, and more?
To stimulate this kind of learning, create task forces that are charged with the responsibility of visiting other companies, attending conferences, reading business books, and then reporting back about the solutions and ideas they have discovered. One powerful suggestion is to have groups of employees evaluate your competitors and then present their findings to you.
The more you integrate learning with work, the more energized your organization becomes.
Let Employees Step out as Company Experts on What They Have Learned
When employees have learned a lot about a topic, find ways to let them share their expertise with everyone in your organization. You can encourage them to blog about what they know, write articles in company newsletters, and lead training sessions.
Those steps inspire your most enthusiastic learners to learn even more, inspire everyone to identify and master areas of learning that interest them, and further build a company culture where learning is a priority.