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How Training Consultants Build A Culture of Learning

Organizations are investing more effort to improve upon their culture, but not everyone gets it right. Generally, corporate culture can be broken down into six components: vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and environment. Each component reflects an important piece what makes an organization successful. The corporate training industry has also spent recent years trying to emphasize the importance of a culture of learning within an organization. Arguably, these six components apply to a culture of learning as well. Whereas building corporate culture is often the responsibility of the HR department, the design, development and deployment of a culture of learning is the role of the employee development team or training consultants.

As part of that process, training consultants can have an impact on the overall organizational culture. How? The values and practices that contribute to a culture tend to be well-established ideas and behaviors. For that reason, forming new ideas and shaping the behaviors that are the foundation of a corporate culture is well within the skill set of the training consultants that develop learning practices to shape those ideas and behaviors.

The values and practices that contribute to a culture tend to be well-established ideas and behaviors.

The right training consultant has a process to develop the culture of an organization with the following steps.

Step 1: Start With a Needs Analysis

Before starting such a large project, the training consultant should determine the goals of the learning culture initiative and uncover the organizational challenges that are hampering success. Some examples of learning goals might be an increase in optional training content consumption, utilization of training materials, or how often training content is shared between peers. However, finding organizational challenges takes a bit of work. By conducting a thorough needs analysis, training consultants can identify current employee behaviors and values that are detrimental to a positive learning culture. Typically, a needs analysis will involve surveys, interviews, focus groups, and data analysis to gather information about the gaps between the current state and the ideal state of the organization.

Step 2: Design a Long-Term Learning Curriculum

The key to creating a culture of learning is to promote continuous learning. Learning should be embedded withing the vision, values, and practices of an organization. Instead of the occasional training events, employees should have the expectation that their training experience will be more of a consistent practice that continues through the duration of their employment.

So, how to promote a continuous learning practice? The successful learning curriculum design will include the following components.

  1. Flexible Design- Remember the needs analysis conducted as a first step? That information is vital to give insight into how well certain activities work as learners navigate your content. Use employee feedback, content consumption patterns, and performance data to improve your training design. Subsequent learners will benefit from those changes, and the analysis should provide insights around how to build future assets and activities.
  2. Personalized Content- When content is relevant to your learners, it’s more likely they will be engaged. You can personalize learning paths without having to design completely new courses. For example, allow learners to pre-test out of certain modules and continue onto more difficult subjects.
  3. Consistent Delivery- To embed learning within the culture of your organization, learning needs to become commonplace. Through continuous learning strategies, employees will begin to see training as a part of their role at the company.

Step 4: Increase Engagement and Motivation

One of the most overlooked roles a training consultant has in creating a culture of learning is to discover the motivational factors specific to a company, department, or role. Even well-crafted learning assets won’t have much of an impact if learners aren’t motivated to consume training content. So, instructional design often employs behavioral or motivational theory methods to capture the attention of learners through gamification or social learning.

Even well-crafted learning assets won’t have much of an impact if learners aren’t motivated to consume training content.

For example, the theory of operant conditioning describes the process of giving learners rewards for appropriate responses to increase the likelihood that behavior occurs again. This theory is the foundation of gamification for corporate training, but it’s worth mentioning that social engagement can be rewarding on its own. Determine the factors that motivate your specific audience (e.g., raises, time off, branded swag, career development, etc.) and you will increase motivation.

Building a Better Learning Culture

Learning is instrumental to most organizational change, and that includes building a culture of learning. Essentially, the role of a training consultant is to shape the knowledge, behaviors, and values of learners. While changing deeply engrained ideas like values can be tricky, it can be accomplished with a data-driven long-term curriculum.