Four Ways That Leaders Can Create a Learning Culture for Employees

By Harvard Business Review
September 19, 2018

As technology drives disruption in health care and other industries, what team members know is less relevant than what they may learn.

One of the main career implications of the digital revolution is a shift in demand for human expertise. There is now a premium on intellectual curiosity and learnability, the desire and ability to quickly grow and adapt one’s skill set to remain employable.

True learning cultures, however, are still the exception rather than the norm.

Here are four recommendations to help physician leaders create a learning culture on their teams:

Reward continuous learning: It is impossible to trigger deliberate changes in your team’s culture unless you put in place formal reward systems to entice them. Rewarding curiosity is not just about praising and promoting those who display an effort to learn and develop; it’s also about creating a climate that nurtures critical thinking and where challenging authority and speaking up are encouraged, even if it means creating discord.

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Give meaningful and constructive feedback: In an age where many organizations focus their developmental interventions on “strengths” and feel-good approaches to management, it is easy to forget the value of negative feedback. However, it is hard to improve on anything when you are unaware of your limitations, fully satisfied with your potential or unjustifiably pleased with yourself.

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Lead by example: Leaders’ behaviors have a strong influence on the behavior and performance of their teams. Accordingly, if you want to nurture your team’s curiosity or unlock learning in your organization, you should practice what you preach.

Hire curious people: If you hire people who are naturally curious and maximize the fit between their interests and the role they are in, you will not have to worry so much about their willingness to learn.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Management

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