By Corporate English Solutions

14 March 2023 - 15:10

L&D’s critical role in creating a learning culture

Developing a culture of learning can help transform and futureproof your organisation. But it can be challenging to create and maintain a growth mindset across the business. What part can L&D teams play? 

Leverage the unique expertise, experience, and skills in your L&D teams to foster a true culture of learning. Discover the four essential components to our approach for developing and maintaining a growth mindset across your organisation.


Reading time: 6 minutes

What do organisations with a strong learning culture have in common? Higher levels of engagement, innovation, productivity and performance, which together drive business growth. In fact, those with comprehensive organisational learning programmes report 24% higher profits.

Simply put, developing a learning culture in the workplace comes with many benefits. But it can be challenging to create (and maintain). Usually because of a lack of understanding of what it is and who exactly is responsible for developing it. 

For it to be successful, it has to be a strategic, organisation-wide priority. And who better to support such a crucial initiative than L&D professionals? In recent years, you have become a central business partner to senior leadership teams across your organisation. Plus, creating a culture of learning is one of the top four L&D focus areas for 2023.  

But it can be challenging to create a mindset change and foster a true culture of learning. Organisations’ processes and bureaucracy can limit information sharing, social learning and collaboration. Internal systems can also make it difficult. Then, there’s the well-known challenge – engaging busy managers and their teams. 

However, there are ways you can leverage your L&D expertise to develop an effective learning culture in your workplace. Read on to discover how.

1. Create a shared understanding of what a learning culture means in your organisation

Although you can find many different definitions of a learning culture, the best definition is the one created by your organisation. Start by working closely with senior and functional leadership teams. Together, you can define the vision of what your learning organisation should look like.

You can help senior leaders understand the benefits of a learning culture, especially that it’s much more than delivering learning initiatives and programmes. Also emphasise that it will most likely require a shift in mindset and attitude throughout the organisation.

Here are some fundamental steps to consider:

  1. Decide on how you can involve those with higher levels of influence or authority over outcomes and decisions. As well as those who can directly (or indirectly) influence other stakeholders.
  2. Plan your approach and develop a communication roadmap based on key stakeholders’ values and business priorities to positively influence them.
  3. Involve employees at all levels, asking for their input and ideas. This will help to gain their buy-in for any future change initiatives needed at a later stage. 
  4. Once the vision is defined, make it actionable by identifying the behaviour, attitudes, values and capabilities employees will need to demonstrate in the learning culture. 
  5. Work with the leadership team and managers to communicate the strategy and its key objectives to all levels of the organisation.

2. Review your existing learning culture 

The next critical step is to review your organisation’s current learning culture. Leverage your unique L&D skills and experience in capability development and assessment to support your organisation throughout this essential process: 

  1. Evaluate your existing learning culture. Measure the extent to which employees demonstrate the behaviours, attitudes and values identified as part of your vision and strategy for a learning organisation. 
  2. Assess how well employees demonstrate a growth mindset, which is critical in developing a learning culture.
  3. Identify strengths and gaps. Find the barriers that hinder organisational learning and work with senior leadership teams and line managers to identify how to overcome them. 
  4. Communicate results widely. Be open and clear about the aims for any change programmes that may be needed for creating a learning culture.

3. Enable the development of a growth mindset 

What’s another crucial role you can play as an L&D professional? Enabling a growth mindset (the belief that we can develop our skills and talents through hard work and good strategy). 

And line managers are critical to this process. Because they’re ultimately responsible for delivering the changes needed for developing a learning culture within their teams. 

How best to support managers? Utilise and share your L&D expertise in enabling employees, training and coaching. Empower line managers to develop a growth mindset within their teams by:

  • rewarding initiative and appropriate risk-taking within their teams
  • encouraging teams to turn failure into learning opportunities instead of assigning blame. Such as seeing the power of ‘not yet’: viewing failures as just problems that haven’t been solved yet.
  • creating time for regular shared reflective practice and feedback with their teams. For example, post-project reviews that consider what went well and what could be improved.

Another critical step for managers is to demonstrate the value of a learning culture to their teams. This could involve rewarding employees who learn new skills and share their knowledge (e.g. through financial rewards, new career opportunities, or rewarding learning with more learning opportunities). Remind managers to promote and participate in learning events themselves.

What’s the key to making all these efforts stick? Connecting programmes to employees’ personal learning goals. This will help to increase their motivation to join in, engage with and continue learning.

4. Leverage both formal and informal learning systems 

Leverage L&D competencies for knowledge management, curating and sharing learning to make it easily accessible for all. Use L&D systems to channel learnings from teams and individuals into the larger organisation, with everyone contributing to institutional knowledge. Work with the organisation to share this knowledge through both formal and informal learning pathways.

Once you have the above elements of organisational learning in place, it’s time to share strategies and best practices around informal learning with managers. Show them how they can implement these within their teams by: 

  • using team meetings as microlearning opportunities to share tips and techniques, learnings from projects, and solutions to problems
  • encouraging team members to attend conferences and network with people from other organisations/industries, or shadow other professionals and supervisors
  • bringing learning into the flow of work at all levels of the organisation. Ensure learning systems and technology are accessible to everyone.

Bonus tips: Another potential tool for developing a learning culture is using immersive learning technologies to deliver your regular learning programmes. Particularly since they’ve been shown to foster higher levels of learner engagement and motivation. And don’t forget to use social learning opportunities to encourage more discussion, share knowledge and maintain engagement. 

Making the most of your unique L&D skills and capabilities

All these ways prove how influential your L&D expertise is. By getting everyone involved, your organisation can build a dynamic and effective learning culture. One that boosts innovation, engagement, productivity and performance.

Our 80 years’ experience of consultancy, training and coaching across 6 continents means we understand your context and organisation’s needs. Partner with us to coach your managers or create a programme to upskill your teams and drive a culture of learning in your organisation.


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