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/Stephanie Morgan How to encourage a collaborative working culture

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford

Why should we work together in L&D? We accomplish so much more when we collaborate, increasing the benefits of learning overall. For some people the most valuable learning is gained during the collaboration itself, so having a culture that supports this is definitely worthwhile.  So, do you have what it takes to create this type of learning culture?

Jane Hart feels that collaborative learning represents a significant change from traditional L&D, and of course there are many reasons for this, but sometimes not knowing where to start can be the biggest barrier of all. To get you started here are a few simple steps which I always find really useful when trying to encourage collaboration as part of an overall learning culture.

Learning leaders

It can be hard to change years of behaviour, particularly given that collaborative learning involves your people openly asking for help. Sometimes it can feel quite brave to be the first person to do so. In L&D you can help the process by getting key individuals on board who will actively engage in problem solving and be open about their own problems and issues. I call these people learning leaders.Learning Leaders

Who makes a good learning leader? Leaders can be anyone from within your organisation who will be advocates for the benefits of learning and build engagement by talking to people about how they want to learn, how they collaborate to solve problems and their experiences of working together to provide better learning and outcomes. In other words, they understand what your learners need and help them to find it, whilst acting as a contact point for anyone with learning concerns. Whilst learning leaders could be anyone, managers can use their position of influence to be particularly effective.

Enabling #Hackathons

#Hackathons were originally a way of getting computer programmers together to work on solving an issue or problem. These events have gained popularity and you can now find #Hackathons for all sorts of subjects, issues and needs.

Encouraging your people to get a group of people together to #Hack a work problem creates a whole new level of energy and engagement. Working together for a single aim and appreciating each other’s input and expertise is hugely rewarding, motivating and self-perpetuating. Exactly what you need to build a collaborative learning culture.

Just give permission

60% of learners find they learn more by finding things out for themselves, and collaboration does just that. Many people have a crammed and high-pressure work schedule and people can feel guilty for taking time out of that to figure things out and learn from them. The answer to this is to give them permission to collaborate and undertake ongoing learning, and remind them of this as much as possible.

One good example of this is Google’s new VR viewer, Google Cardboard. Employees Dadiv Gos and Damien Henry realised they didn’t have an easy device to test the VR capabilities of Android phones and used their 20% ‘Innovation Time Off’ to develop this simple solution to the problem! In this instance, giving the engineers time and permission to collaboratively identify and overcome a problem not only resolved the immediate need, but created a product which has sold over five million units.

Are you ready?

Embracing a collaborative learning culture is vital to unlocking the knowledge contained in your people, and we’ve looked at three important steps to accomplishing this. That said, a collaborative learning culture demands a wide range of soft skills and it’s unlikely all your learners will be ready to share problems and take responsibility for solving other peoples. As such, why not get in touch and find out how Bray Leino Learning can help your people prepare for a more collaborative future?

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Stephanie Morgan

Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning

Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.

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