In the modern workplace, learning relationships are largely passive or accidental: an employee simply absorbs knowledge from a manager, perhaps through weekly meetings or check-ins. But if it becomes intentional, both expert and student can gain more.
One of the challenges of learning through relationships is that they can be difficult to arrange formally. You can’t order people to be friends with each other. The same is true with mentoring or coaching or sponsorship relationships: they often arise naturally, based on mutual trust and interest (even if we have formal matching programs).
So while we can’t play matchmaker, we can educate our leaders and employees about these different relationships. In the Josh Bersin Academy, we dive into different types of learning relationships, cultures of continuous learning, and more in The Agile Learning Organization Program—the next session starts on August 5.
Here are four ways we can nurture a culture of learning from each other:
- Coach the Coaches, Mentor the Mentors: Many people are naturally good at teaching others what they know: they reflect on how they do what they do and can easily transmit those thoughts to someone learning from them. But it’s also a learned skill. We can create learning opportunities to give everyone the tools they need to excel at being a coach, mentor, or sponsor.
- Create Platforms for People to Find Each Other: We can't order people to be friends, but we can create circumstances and situations where people can connect. Those platforms can also be a good way to reiterate shared language about the roles and relationships, and to highlight stories of learning successes.
- Measure and Report on Progress: It's still an emerging field, but new platforms can help us see the reach and impact of master-apprentice relationships more directly than ever before. We can also integrate questions around these types of relationships into employee performance and satisfaction surveys to get an ongoing sense of whether our work to encourage learning from each other is working.
- Educate Stakeholders on the Value of Sharing Expertise: As HR professionals, we can play an essential role ensuring that management understands the value of peer-to-peer learning. We can engage senior leadership in the value of shared learning relationships, especially if we have good data.