Learning and Development

Starting from Scratch: A Beginner's Guide to Implementing a Learning Program

Building a learning culture is essential for organizations to remain competitive and attract top talent, and starting from scratch doesn't need to be intimidating.

Starting from Scratch: A Beginner's Guide to Implementing a Learning Program
Courtney Ritchie
May 4, 2023
Starting from Scratch: A Beginner's Guide to Implementing a Learning Program

Having a learning culture is critical for organizations to stay competitive, especially in the market for top talent. With the rapid advancements in technology and globalization, it is essential to continuously learn and improve to keep up with the latest trends and innovations in the industry.

Building a learning culture within the organization provides employees with opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge, which can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and job satisfaction. Additionally, a learning culture promotes employee retention and attracts top talent, as it demonstrates a commitment to investing in their professional growth and development. Fostering a learning culture should be a top priority for businesses seeking to thrive in today's dynamic marketplace.

For companies that are new, rebuilding, or have not been able to prioritize learning, it can be challenging to determine where to begin. It's common to become overwhelmed by the initial steps and worry that the program won't meet expectations. To combat these concerns, there are three key principles to guide the initiation of implementing learning programs and culture.

Launch with an Easy Win

Get them in and get them excited.

Bad experiences spread faster than good ones. If you want to build a learning culture, start with a win. Identify a topic or skill that your team is excited about that brings in a learning mindset.  Rather than going in with a subject to “fix” a problem, bring a learning opportunity to build a new/improved skill.  Whatever it is, make sure it's something that your team will be excited about and can see the value in.  When in doubt, a class that is fun and engaging and a universal skill is a safe bet.  (i.e., Storytelling for business, Influencing without Authority, etc.)

Be Patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Building a learning culture is a process that takes time. Don’t put pressure to have a highly mature program in 6 months. Be patient and persistent. Celebrate small wins along the way, and keep your team motivated with positive feedback.  Focus on a scaffolded learning program that develops, iterates, and grows.  Some of the most successful learning programs I’ve been a part of took two to three years to truly stand up.

Rally Support

Mid-level managers are the key.

To build a learning culture, you need buy-in from managers. Mid-level management is the group that will be responsible for encouraging and supporting their teams in their learning efforts. Educate them on the benefits of learning and provide them with the resources they need to lead by example.  They will be your biggest champions or your toughest obstacles.  Ensuring they’re bought in and educated should be a top priority.

Building a learning culture and program requires patience, persistence, and strategic planning. Start with a win, get buy-in from managers, and take action. By creating a culture of continuous learning, you can improve your team's skills and knowledge, increase productivity and innovation, and stay on the competitive edge of today’s race for talent.

When in doubt, just jump in.  Hesitation can be one of the biggest obstacles in developing learning for organizations.  Start with a simple plan and act. As you see results, you can refine your approach, move the goal post, and build on your success.

About the Author: Courtney Ritchie is a seasoned executive learning professional with over 15 years of experience in driving learning and development initiatives within organizations. As an integral member of the team at Learnit, she is passionate about collaborating with businesses to build and grow effective learning programs and foster a culture of continuous learning. Her expertise in the field of corporate learning and development makes her a valuable asset in creating impactful learning solutions that drive business success.