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Andrew Wallbridge - Leadership thought leader, facilitator, consultant & coach

It happens all too often. We get into a training room with a group of participants and ask, “why are you all here?” and the response is the same, “we’ve been told to be here.” Not just on bespoke programs, where the company has paid for a tailored design, the same with apprenticeships and those studying for qualifications.

Learning Inertia is where learning is being done to somebody, there’s no what’s-in-it-for-me, no specific feedback, what’s the gap I need to address.

It's far too easy for Managers to solve a problem by “sticking them on a course” Where’s the ownership, the responsibility?

The solution?

To counteract the effects of learning inertia, some companies have sought to develop a culture of learning. Learning organizations are those where every individual, every team, seek to learn, every day. Learning can’t happen without humility, the humility to accept that none of us are perfect. Once we’ve accepted that, then natural curiosity can take over.

But”! Becoming a learning organization is not a destination so examples of those who have completed the journey are hard to find, and that makes them difficult to copy.

5 Rules for leaders when developing a learning culture

Rule #1 – Show Personal Commitment. Showing your commitment to learning for your team is absolute. It must happen. Learning isn’t the responsibility of HR, it’s your job as a leader. When failure creeps up & takes you by surprise, ask, what can we learn from this? Personal commitment means declaring your own mistakes and the learning you took away. Developing a culture of giving and getting candid feedback means people will always know how they are doing.

Rule #2 – Trust people to make mistakes. Allowing them to make mistakes forms the basis of our learning opportunities. Recognize and celebrate those occasions. Mark Twain said, “Show me someone who’s never made a mistake and I’ll show someone who hasn’t done very much.” As we know, today, if we stand still, we fall behind. We’ve all learned how to live our lives by learning from our mistakes, if you’re not prepared to make mistakes, what does that say about you? You don’t want it enough??

Rule #3 – Generate solutions. We spend an inordinate amount of effort fixing symptoms in our worlds rather than re-defining problems so that we end up solving the problem, not the symptoms. Looking through a different set of lenses can help identify root causes, help create new solutions to old problems.

Rule #4 – Involve everyone. The collective efforts of a workforce will outstrip the efforts of an individual, every time! An organization can create a competitive advantage by leveraging the collective energies of its workforce, and that’s going to really hard for the competition to copy.

Rule #5 – Practice coaching every day. Coaching is not an event, nor is it just a process of asking the right questions. It is a tool for the present moment, using whatever experiences and resources you have available. Try coaching your child to tie their shoelaces – doesn’t work does it, so, choose the right tools for the job.

If people are immersed in an environment where learning is the norm, they are more open, humble, and more willing. Don’t do training for training’s sake, make sure people know why they’re there and what the gap is they are trying to bridge.