Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach
Most entrepreneurs are voracious learners. Those who continuously learn and master new skills have an extreme advantage over their competitors.
The most successful managers and business owners recognize the benefits of ongoing training and continuing education for their team members, too. However, some employees aren’t motivated to pursue new knowledge and training. They may become complacent and comfortable in their current roles.
To foster learning in your workplace, it’s wise to motivate your employees to pursue educational opportunities whenever possible. Here five ways to foster and reward a culture of learning.
1. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your team.
Seek to understand the backgrounds, motivations and interests of your team members. This knowledge will help you train your employees more effectively. First, assess which type of training is most appropriate. What experience and education does your team already have? What information would help your staff members become more productive and well-rounded professionals? What subjects are they interested in learning more about?
2. Adapt for different learning styles.
Everyone learns differently. Some people are visual learners; they have to see to understand. Others are auditory learners and often prefer lectures or audiobooks. Some individuals are tactile learners; they prefer to have hands-on experiences and thrive when they can do the work as they’re learning.
Appreciate the diversity of your team’s personalities and learning styles — these differences create a more dynamic culture and benefit your business. It’s best not to require every member of your staff to read a particular book or listen to a specific lecture. While some may benefit, others will not. Instead, pursue continuing education opportunities that your entire team can utilize. When you understand your employees’ learning styles, you can encourage each staff member to pick up new skills in a way that suits him or her.
3. Make learning fun.
Continuing education can also be a chance to help your team members build rapport with each other. Encourage employees to get involved and direct the learning experience. Ask your team what educational opportunities they would like to pursue. Then solicit feedback so you can improve. When your staff is involved in the process they will feel more empowered. The more positive the experience, the more information they’ll learn and retain.
When possible, permit employees to train their colleagues. Host a monthly “Lunch and Learn” event as a simple way to promote learning to your team. Post a sign-up sheet in your office’s break room so anyone can join. You can either have the event catered for those in attendance or encourage everyone to bring a bagged lunch.
4. Take advantage of online courses.
The options for continuing education have boomed in recent years. You can now provide your team high quality training from experts across the world at a fraction of the cost. While in-person presentations can still be beneficial, you have many choices beyond the resources of your local community.
Nationally recognized coaches, authors and professional speakers can train or speak to your team remotely. Online courses offer your team to learn from their desk at their own pace. Reach out to colleagues and peers to find the best training courses and learning opportunities for your employees.
5. Follow up and review information.
Your job doesn’t end after your team has been trained. Learning is only part of the process. To master new skills, your employees must be able to retain and use the information in their roles at your company. Encourage staff members to ask questions during and after a presentation. The more engaged they are, the more likely they’ll be to process and recall the information later.
Find ways to remind your team members of what they learned. Have one-on-one conversations or group discussions to allow them to verbally process the information. If someone takes a class outside of work, encourage them to share what they learned with others.