/lt/file/learning-work-0Learning at work
How to foster a learning culture at work in four steps? Thematic coordinator Markus Palmén shares tips that have helped him to make learning a habit in his career.
When someone embarks on a learning journey, this holds a promise for growth, but it also implies lack of certain knowledge or ability. If I want to learn something new, I admit that at present I do not have this knowledge or ability.
This sounds like a clumsy tautology but it is, in fact, the first crucial insight in creating a positive atmosphere for learning at work (or anywhere else). In this blog post I share practices that have helped me in my own path of learning at work.
In work communities, we often need to project an aura of unflinching professionalism. Burdened by our (unfounded) impostor syndromes, we may feel reluctant to admit that we lack some skills in certain aspects of our work. Admitting this to your colleagues and superiors may even seem foolhardy.
1. Fight the stigma of not knowing
One of the cornerstones of a learning organisation is to gradually chip away the stigma of not knowing. Make a habit of sharing your learning needs with your colleagues (for example, in weekly meetings) to see if you can coach each other. This is probably easier said than done, but make sure to start informally and without the boss!
2. Exchange skills
The next step flows naturally from the first one. In one of my past workplaces, we periodically charted our training needs and matched them with in-house skills. ‘I’ll teach tiy how to use that editing software, if you show me the ropes of basic accounting.’ Granted, this approach works best with technical skills that are relatively fast to learn, but it’s a start!
3. Share the load
The third step also relies on informal collaboration. Share the workload of keeping up to date on professional literature and media, events, seminars and further training courses. In another past workplace, we experimented with a reading circle, where we selected the most interesting new books in our field and allocated reading duties. Each colleague had to read one book and summarise it for the others in a meeting. The same system works for any type of learning materials or further trainings.
4. Pick (different) peoples’ brains
Conversations with co-workers are the best way to transfer tacit knowledge at the workplace. I would additionally encourage to reach out to people who are not expecting to hear from you! This means people who inspire you, such as the authors of the book, research paper or interview you have just read. In my work as partner in a production company, we have chosen this as a conscious learning strategy. We regularly call interesting people in our field and invite them for lunch to exchange views on trends and topics. Fresh insights and collaboration opportunities almost always emerge!
These four steps are but a suggested, tried-and-tested path along learning at work. Share your own in the comments section below!
Markus Palmen is a journalist, writer and audiovisual producer, and a freelancer. Since August 2017 he has been EPALE's Thematic Coordinator for Policy. For eight years Markus was the Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief for the European Lifelong Learning Magazine.