Five Ways to Build a Learning Environment

Does your organization know how to learn? In a world dominated by the ability to process information, the ability to learn, as an organization, is crucial. Here are five ways you can create a learning organization:

1. Encourage self-directed learning for employees. Instead of telling people what to learn, give permission for them to explore what they think is important. And provide resources like access to information, the Internet, time off, and tuition reimbursement, if possible.

2. Promote cross-pollination of ideas. Bring together team members from different departments to share ideas and strategies. Encourage people to respect different opinions and points of view so meetings produce thoughtful, innovative results.

3. Use open-ended language. In your meetings and discussions, ask questions that stimulate creative thought and learning without simply focusing on finding “correct” answers. If you can say, “Let’s explore that further,” you’ll show everyone on your team that you consider striving for improvement more important than a single “right” answer.

4. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities. Hold honest, straightforward conversations when something doesn’t work as anticipated. Look for lessons that might improve the process next time, as well as ideas for new processes that might result in an innovative product.

5. Review the learning process. On a regular basis, ask team members what’s working and what isn’t. With this information, get to work on fixing what doesn’t work and enhancing what’s going well.

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