Masterclass: Driving High Performance Teams via a Learning CultureTuesday, 24th September 2019
Guest blog by Argyro Fasoura, Impact
As the modern workplace continues to evolve and our political and social environment constantly shifts, organisations need to be proactive and seek continuous improvement. Therefore, creating a culture of ‘Continuous Learning’ within your organisation will reap huge returns and benefits as you’ll be able to consistently use your skills, innovation, and knowledge to effectively adapt to the rapidly changing business environment more quickly than your competitors.
Recently Business Psychologists, Ro Fasoura, Anya Moore and Sam Warren, delivered a pro-manchester masterclass on how to drive high performance teams through building a continuous learning culture. This article shares their insights, providing you with a glimpse of the key concepts of a ‘Continuous Learning’ and a great technique for assessing culture and implementing positive change within your organisation.
What is a Continuous Learning Culture?
“A learning organisation is an organisation that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.” – Peter Senge
A learning culture is one which embraces a set of attitudes, values, and practices that support and encourage continuous learning for the organisation and its members. Research has found that high performing learning organisations are 92% more likely than other organisations to innovate, 46% more likely to be first to market, 58% more prepared to meet future demand, and experience 37% greater employee productivity.
A fantastic example of a culture that embraces continuous learning can be found in Japanese companies like Brother and Toyota in the form of ‘Kaizen’. Kaizen is a Japanese term roughly translating to “change for better”. It is a concept commonly discussed alongside lean thinking and is a popular case study of what good looks like within manufacturing and other super-competitive industries. It’s driven around getting the most out of your employees and always striving to be better ways of working.
A commonly used tool within the Kaizen terminology is the PDCA model (PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT). It is an iterative approach based on science that organisations can use for continually improving products, processes or services and for resolving problems. This is a great approach for starting to embed a culture of continuous learning in your organisation.
- Understand the current (as-is) situation. What is the status quo, what are the current issues and needs of the business?
In order to understand your ‘to-be’, you will need to know your ‘as-is’. Conducting a cultural assessment includes reviewing various components of culture such as environment, traditions, social relations, incentives, and values. This understanding will highlight the gaps between the current state and the desired state. Tools such as surveys have been designed to help this process, enabling you to gather ideas from those who are involved in living and also contributing to the culture on a daily basis.
- Develop a plan for change which embraces whole systems-thinking. What are your goals, vision, strategy and how will you measure success?
In planning change, you need to embrace it fully. Culture change is no quick fix, it takes time and requires commitment, investment and persistence to get it right. Therefore, implementation must not be rushed! Take time to develop a robust plan for improvements and work steadily to embed the changes. You need to drill down into what you want that culture to look like in terms of behaviour. This helps you to define a clear vision, allowing you to establish a timeline and a desired end date.
This stage involves formulating solutions and introducing new ways of working which support the bigger picture you have identified in your planning.
When implementing change, here are some of the places you may want to look (these are just some suggestions, however, there are many areas in which you can look to embed or improve your learning culture):
- Ensure alignment between the culture, structure and strategy–Does your organisational structure support the new culture change and innovation? Is culture integral to everything we’re doing? Weaving it into your organisational strategy is a powerful way to support the change throughout much of the work your business is doing.
- Performance reviews – Are people being motivated and reviewed on desired behaviours? We need to recognise those who have demonstrated innovation and acted as pioneers of the organisational culture change whilst helping those who may need to develop.
- Concrete learning processes and practices– Formalise and concrete your provisions for learning. This will allow the foundations to be set for learning to flourish.
- Make learning accessible– Allow people time throughout the week to engage in learning. The availability of sources is a key consideration. Is learning only a couple of clicks away? Make it easy and you’ll increase the uptake of learning behaviours.
- Psychological Safety– Do people feel safe to share their ideas and take risks? Psychological safety creates the bedrock for great conversations and more importantly impactful learning opportunities.
- Develop a common language– Understand the experience and the behaviours you’re trying to cultivate and give people the tools, phrases, and understandings to talk about them.
Review your success metrics and fix what doesn’t work. Evaluate whether the implementation of the change achieved the desired results and share the lessons learned.
Report the results and determine any follow-up items. This could be a small adjustment which then involves another iteration through the PDCA cycle, or it could be taking a big action such as implementing across another department or even the whole organisation!
It is important to remember that this is continuous process, it’s a journey which never really ends!
So what are you going to do next in order to foster a learning culture in your organisation?
At Impact, helping organisations to assess and develop their culture plays a large part of what we do as business psychologists and business professionals. Specialising in Performance, Leadership, Talent, and Change, Impact’s services enable individuals, teams and whole organisations to continuously grow and develop to achieve true potential at work.
We balance a scientific approach with a warm and friendly style, working collaboratively with clients from across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. This approach has enabled Impact to build long-lasting client relationships over the years, and we will continue to bring business psychology expertise into the heart of organisations. Interested in finding more?
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