Guest Contributor

How Management Can Encourage a Continuous Learning Culture

By | Charlie Fletcher

Great managers are great leaders, and great leaders help people become the best versions of themselves. While there are many leadership styles managers can adopt, creating a flourishing culture of continuous learning is a great way to get the best out of people. A strong culture of continuous learning has two benefits: your employees get better at their job and they will feel more valued by the company because you’ve authentically invested in their development.

Defining a Continuous Learning Culture

A culture of continuous learning is all about allowing employees to drive their own growth. This means that instead of setting arduous training regimes for employees, you give employees the freedom to set their own goals and choose their learning and development (L&D). As a manager, it is up to you to set expectations and provide the resources necessary for L&D to occur.

Creating a Continuous Learning Culture

For continuous learning to work effectively in your organization, you need to ensure that you’ve created the right culture for L&D to occur. By creating a positive professional environment, managers can ensure that their employees feel safe to explore their options and that they will choose to invest in L&D that benefits the wider vision of the company. Creating a culture of continuous learning can be tricky, but there are a few things you can do to lay the groundwork.

Create a Comfortable Learning Environment

If employees are always looking over their shoulders, they’re unlikely to invest time into continuous learning. You can relax the workplace mood by allowing dogs at work or by creating dedicated rooms for employees to decompress and build community. Remember, stress and anxiety make it harder to learn, so creating a comfortable, but professional, environment is key.

Publicize Your Intentions

If employees don’t know that you aim to create a culture of continuous learning, they are unlikely to take up opportunities for L&D. To be successful, you need to pitch the idea to employees and routinely advertise upcoming events and programs for professional development. It doesn’t take much to advertise learning opportunities to your employees—an informative email should do the trick.  

Ask Questions

You must regularly communicate with your employees and find out what they want to learn. Asking employees what they want to learn gives them ownership over their learning and development, and shows them that they are valued. Of course, not all employees will know what they want to learn, and some would prefer to be given direction. However, asking employees for their opinion first signals that you respect them, and might just spark ideas for L&D that you had not previously considered.

Make it the Norm

Normalizing workplace learning is increasingly important, as 94% of employees state that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. If most people at your workplace are investing some of their time into L&D, you will develop a culture of continuous learning. New employees can see that their peers are dedicating time to professional development, and will quickly find ways to do the same.

Actively Encourage Learners

Your best employees are always finding ways to better themselves and understand the value of deliberate practice. To ensure these star employees continue to progress, you should reward them for asking difficult questions and give employees adequate time to observe their peers. You might need to adjust key performance indicators and should reward those who spend their time in L&D programs, but, by actively encouraging learners, your employees will feel valued and buy into the company culture.

Allow for Trial and Error

Outside of professional contexts, it seems obvious that learning requires failure. If you were learning how to surf, you would expect to fall off the board a few dozen times before you catch a wave. However, in professional contexts, we sometimes lose sight of this fact. As managers, be kind to your employees who are investing time and effort into their learning by restructuring things like monthly reviews with the value of trial and error in mind.

Provide Equitable Access

You must provide adequate access to all training programs and opportunities. This will look different depending on the context of your business and the way your employees work. However, a good rule of thumb is to do your research before rolling out L&D programs by asking your employees about what works well for them.

Providing equitable access to L&D is particularly important if you have disabled employees. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations is against federal law and should be seen as the minimum standard for managers. Beyond meeting the minimum standard of reasonable accommodations, inclusive managers should seriously consider running Employee Resource Groups so employees can advocate for their own needs within a professional forum.

Invest in Leadership

Your leadership team matters. Even if you think employees should be internally motivated, you should invest in your leadership to ensure that you successfully create a culture of continuous learning. Effective leaders know how to adapt their leadership style to different contexts, and are great at communicating your companies wider vision. This will increase your employee’s interest in continuous learning and will help you cultivate a culture of trust, development, and mutual respect.


Creating a culture of continuous learning is tricky, but is well worth the effort. Employees who are always in the process of learning are happier and provide more valuable services. By taking a few simple steps, you can lay a productive groundwork for continuous learning within your organization and will feel the rewards of having more skilled and motivated employees.

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