It’s hard to argue with Osborne on that front. Between the COVID-19 pandemic’s radical restructuring of the work world, the growing demands for social justice in the private and public spheres, and the breakneck pace of corporate innovation today, professionals at all levels and across industries have learned the keys to success are adaptability, agility, and a willingness to strive for more regardless of circumstances.
But are employers really internalizing these lessons?
“In order to use learning as our path forward through change, it is imperative for organizations to build a culture of learning to support growth,” Osborne says. “As a former teacher, I’ve witnessed firsthand how critical lifelong learning is. Yet, in the corporate environment, there aren’t enough resources to bring that continuous learning mindset to the forefront at work.”
That lack of resources is precisely why Osborne wrote The Upskilling Imperative: 5 Ways to Make Learning Core to the Way We Work. Last month Osborne was kind enough to sit for an email Q&A with Recruiter.com. Below is a transcript of that session, minimally edited for style and clarity.
Recruiter.com: Much of The Upskilling Imperative deals with the necessity of building a successful learning culture. How do you define a “learning culture”?
Shelley Osborne: During the near-decade I spent in education, I did my best to inspire and encourage my students to be lifelong learners. “Stay curious. Keep learning new things. Always be growing,” I’d tell them. Now, in the world of business, I find myself giving essentially the same advice to company leaders: Put structures in place to keep nurturing, supporting, and growing your people. After all, people are the lifeblood of thriving companies.
For me, signaling the importance of continuous growth and democratizing learning and development throughout an entire organization are the foundations of what a learning culture really is.
RC: You also note that corporate learning and development has gotten itself a bad rap over the years — which I’ve also noticed myself. What factors do you think have contributed to that negative reputation?
SO: Learning and development programs must evolve with the times. Many training initiatives or workplace curricula were developed for a world that we quite simply don’t live in anymore. Historically, training was static, outdated, and mandatory. Today’s constant innovation and our more recent shift to remote work are calls to action for leaders to rethink traditional training and create cultures centered on agility and growth.
What’s more, today’s workers are accustomed to consuming digital content on their own terms, and they expect their workplace learning to be no different. To be effective, learning must be dynamic and meet individuals where they are, in their specific moments of need. This was true before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is undeniable now.
RC: Another thread I noticed throughout the book is the connection between learning and democracy, the idea that everyone needs to own learning in the organization. Can you say a little more about that? Why is democratization so key to building a learning culture?
SO: Workplace training can no longer be relegated to one department. It must be owned by the entire organization and ingrained into every facet of how we work. When everyone is involved in the process, learning becomes everyone’s job and everyone’s priority.
For individuals, this means a commitment to developing a growth mindset. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and share your experience with others. Also, learn in a way that makes sense for your individual goals while advocating for learning needs that your manager may be able to support…