It’s not me, it’s you: the reality of building a new learning culture

You may have come across some of my writing before where I’ve spoken at length around learning cultures and my experiences in shaping new ways of thinking across audiences for the modern age. What I’ve not delved that deep into previously, is what you need from those people in return to realise the vision of a culture of learning as an everyday behaviour.

Despite your hardest efforts to change minds and influence people to use all of the amazing solutions you’ve created, you still need a little something from the other party.

You see, we can never make people use anything we build, of course we want them to use it and we’ll tell them every single reason why they should and how it will help them, yet the choice to engage is down to the individual.

A number of organisations today are embracing the culture of self-serve or in simpler terms, the do it yourself method. This approach can invoke fear and decision fatigue for people, but it’s also incredibly empowering and puts the responsibility back on us as individuals to decide what is right for us. I think it’s quite clear that for any big change to work you need everyone involved to take responsibility for the part they play and when it comes to our people engaging with our learning offer, this is very important to recognise.

It takes two to tango baby!

I don’t think it’s wrong to say, that many of us can be our own worst enemies at times. We can make a lot of things more difficult then they need to be and miss the opportunity to do some really great stuff.

I’ve seen this translate into learning a number of times when it comes to people making the most of the opportunities that are available to them. The usual suspects are always “I don’t know where to access xyz” even though you know they’ve been told where a dozen times or my personal and most hated response “I just don’t have the time to learn” – I mean, I could write a separate in-depth article on what a stupid response that one is alone.

Despite your greatest efforts, the reality is that you cannot make your people use the solutions you’ve designed and that is not your fault. You can do an amazing job at inspiring, motivating and influencing all you want, but your people need to do the most important part themselves and that is to put in the effort to use these solutions.

We all would like everything served to us on a platter, but that’s not real life and in reality if you want to do something, you need to put the effort in. Anyone that has seen me talk at an event, will have heard me say countless times ‘you get out, what you put in’ and I really feel that’s key for any successful learning culture.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to continuous learning can be people themselves! It’s a two way street and not everyone will want to come along with you, but don’t beat yourself up about that. You can lead a horse to water and all that, but it has to drink itself. As part of a learning team, I feel a big part of my role is making sure that I’m enabling people to learn, that they are aware of the great resources we have and the opportunities available to them, yet they must take the most important step of doing.

You can’t control everything

I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that my main message here is that your people need to be just as willing to make the investment in themselves as you are. They must show a mix of enthusiasm, curiosity, ambition and commitment to use what’s available.

Learning teams are the purveyors of creating opportunities and solutions to enable development, yet our people play the most important part in deciding to put in the effort to make use of them. As touched on earlier, we all get feedback as to why people aren’t engaging with solutions and sometimes it really isn’t you, it’s them!

So consider this next time you’re told the current learning solutions aren’t working for a particular group of people, is it because they aren’t fit for purpose or is it the attitude of those people? Do we need to look more at the mindset of those people rather than reinventing the wheel every time you’re told it’s not working.

The big picture

Although this article can be viewed as negative, I’m only looking at a select audience (that I’m sure many of us have encountered) as most people will love shiny, new, relevant and simple to use solutions.

The reality can be that it’s not always you and the solutions you’ve built, sometimes it’s about your people, what they really care about and if can be bothered to invest their time in the most important commodity they have – themselves!

So to sign-off, don’t try to please everyone as you can’t, focus on what you can do, make people aware of the opportunities and the rest is up to them.

Before you go…

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

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