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How L&D teams can build a learning culture that empowers the individual

Monday 17 October 2022

How L&D teams can build a learning culture that empowers the individual

Jez Anderson
How L&D teams can build a learning culture that empowers the individual

Something that is discussed widely in the industry is why L&D teams need to try and strike a balance between being too stable and too dynamic. It’s a hard balance to achieve, especially at a time when it feels that the learning industry is changing so rapidly. So how are we to know the best ways to go about things? Hopefully the tips offered in this piece ease this pain a little and sparks some ideas.

Following this we discuss the importance of building a learning culture that empowers learners so that they feel encouraged to learn and trust that learning is promoted within the workplace.

The function of L&D teams is continuing to change. The role now is not just to focus on what is learned. Instead, they have to go beyond that and understand how, where and when learning happens in their organisations. As working practices are changing, so is workplace learning. Whilst no one is forecasting the end of formal ‘programme’ based learning, or even more traditional ‘in-person’ events, digitally enabled informal and social learning is increasing (again) in popularity and use.


Can organisations strike a balance between the two and incorporate both styles into their plans?  

Our argument is that L&D teams need to recognise this shift in learner behaviour and expectation and start the process of building learning cultures that encourage, enable, and empower their employees. This includes giving them the tools and the trust to build their own learning pathways, set their own goals and learn in a way that works for them (and the organisation).

So, what can L&D teams do to make this happen?


Seek to understand employees

You should seek to understand how your people learn, what they want to learn and why they want to learn (this may include items such as gaining better skills, knowledge and behaviours that help them improve their performance now AND help them work towards that next job).


Use the 70/20/10 approach

70/20/10 may seem a bit old school, but believe it or not, it’s not dead as a method!

70 - People still like to learn through ‘experience’, so make sure to nurture that and help learners identify and access learning that is taking place ‘on the job’ (or ‘in the flow’). You should be seeking to build empowered learning cultures that encourage and support informal, situational and experiential learning.

20 - By developing coaching cultures, building workplace mentoring and supporting managers, you can help your learners make sense of their experiences, which will help them apply what they are learning.

10 – Structured training has a very real place, but you should consider how technology can support its delivery. For example, think about and adopt a ‘digitally blended’ approach, such as using ‘flipped classrooms’ to help learners contextualise and embed what they’ve learned through digital means and elsewhere.


Use technology to empower socially activated learning

Informal ‘peer to peer’ learning is far from new, but recent changes in learning technologies are leading to more learning taking place virtually and more people sharing the learning experience virtually. This change is leading to the proliferation of the personal professional network, which is something to be recognised and encouraged. 

To embrace this, try to enable individuals to share their learning experiences and seek out the support of their peers. You should not, however, try and own it!  Social learning is just that – try and make it formal and it’s no longer a social experience; you need to trust that if the conditions are right for social learning it will take place.

As a result, L&D teams must seek to understand how learners learn, where and when they want or need to learn, as well as understand what it is they need to learn. The L&D teams that will thrive will be those that recognise that learners are increasingly behaving like consumers and therefore must seek to build learning cultures, develop learning strategies, and enable and empower the learner to make the learning choices they need and want to make.


Jez Anderson .

Learning Solutions Consultant, Netex

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