Developing a successful learning culture is the most important prerequisite to our number one goal: aligning the behavior of our learning audience with their jobs. Typically, this is done by thoughtfully producing classes, webinars, on demand courses, videos or one-pager job skills. But what do we do after we’ve bought our learning system and authoring tools but are not seeing our workplace adopt them? If the learning audience doesn’t see their value or worse our team and management are threatened by our activity, what do we do? There are four main ways we see to remedy this.

1) Make sure we can maintain everyone’s buy-in to our approach of achieving a workplace learning culture. And not just at the beginning.

This sounds obvious, and in most cases before any training program is considered, most organizations will bring everyone concerned to the table for a thoughtful review of what the stated goals of workplace learning should be and what benefits can be expected. What typically happens however and especially with a cash-strapped learning department all content and courses tend to be produced by them and may be “required” for all to take, but the 1st line managers and employee out in the field will only give luke-warm approval. The new learning system and courses will be thought of as a necessary evil from “the head office” and not seen as useful and therefore largely ignored. We’ve all seen the results of this in so many organizations; the typical last friday of the month before content is due. Everyone who has been assigned content ends up feverishly completing it at the last possible moment. Or not at all.

A better approach is to have the learning department prime the pump and create some generalized and specific content at the beginning then promptly bring in the managers and senior employees who can walk the walk of their job skills and let them create key content that is most valuable to THEM. When a well respected manager who has just taken the time to impart their knowledge to an instructional designer or even better, has created the content themselves, the team will notice. If you have picked a worthwhile learning system/ LMS and authoring tool, doing this will in the long run be way more time efficient for the manager/ senior employee instead of constantly having to re-tell employees how to do a specific skill or task. If the managers and employees agree to do this they will soon realize how much time and needless employee churn can be saved and your first allies will be born. Most importantly, your organization will end up with valuable knowledge imparted by those who know for everyone to access that needs it.

2) Don’t worry so much about measuring course completions. Look at the amount and quality of learning content managers are creating as the first measure of a successful learning culture.

The real measure of success is to check with the managers and those really in the trenches that the above process is working. More importantly, ask the question: “Is our learning approach letting you spend less time training new hires in a group or one on one and saving you time?” Polite answers are not enough. Its important to maintain a real and honest relationship here. If managers don’t participate by adding/ revising content in the learning system that they themselves assign and their team actually uses then the answer is “No”. If that’s the case, ask them if you can help them template out some different content that appeals to them and their staff.

3) Make sure there is content that is easier for your audience to find and access the answer to their job skills question then simply asking a colleague.

As mentioned above, we’ll always need the longer form compliance content as well as “core” content that seeks to change your learning audience’s perspective and behavior in a meaningful way. But that can be considered the main course of your organization’s learning diet. Micro learning, video along with one pager job skill reminders will be what employees and managers will want to go back to again and again. It helps if much of it is optional to complete, that inspires your users to explore without the preasure of having to view everything. The key takeaway for your content: Is it easier down the road for my team to simply ask a colleague or find and review the learning material I created? If the answer is “ask a colleague” then its time to create supplemental material that they can look up instantly.

4) Put coal on the smoldering fire to make it spread.

Cherry picking the most useful content from one group that has achieved the most success in their learning culture and then sharing that content and approach with everyone else in the organization is very effective. It builds excitement while also inspiring new subject matter experts to author and share as well. This is how a growing and thriving learning culture can spread.