Last updated: 30.05.22

How L&D teams can build a learning culture that empowers the individual

A guest blog by Jez Anderson, L&D Consultant


In my last blog, I discussed why L&D teams need to strike a balance between being too stable and too dynamic. It’s a hard balance to achieve, especially at a time when it feels that the learning industry is changing so rapidly. How are to know the best ways to go about things? Hopefully the tips I offered eased that pain and sparked ideas.

In this post I want to build on that by discussing the importance of building a learning culture that empowers the learners.

The function of L&D teams is changing. Their role is not just to focus on what is learned. Instead, they have to go beyond that and understand how, where and when learning happens in their organisations. As working practices are changing, so is workplace learning. Whilst no one is forecasting the end of formal ‘programme’ based learning, or even more traditional ‘in-person’ events, digitally-enabled informal and social learning is increasing (again) in popularity and use.

My argument is that L&D teams need to recognise this shift in learner behaviour and expectation and start the process of building learning cultures that encourage, enable, and empower their employees. To give them the tools and the trust to build their own learning pathways, set their own goals and learn in a way that works for them (and the organisation).


What can L&D do to make this happen?


Seek to understand their employees

You should seek to understand how your people learn, what they want to learn and why they want to learn (such as to gain better skills, knowledge, and behaviours that help improve performance now AND help them work towards the next job).

Use the 70/0/10 approach

70/20/10 may seem a bit old school, but it’s not dead as a method!

70 - People still like to learn through ‘experience’, so make sure to nurture that and help learners identify and access learning that is taking place ‘on the job’ (or ‘in the flow’). You should be seeking to build empowered learning cultures that encourage and support informal, situational, and experiential learning.

20 - By developing coaching cultures, building workplace mentoring, and supporting managers, you can help your learners make sense of their experiences, which will help them apply what they are learning.

10 – Structured training has a very real place, but you should consider how technology can support its delivery. For example, think about and adopt a ‘digitally blended’ approach, such as using ‘flipped classrooms’ to help learners contextualise and embed what they’ve learned through digital means and elsewhere.


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The L&D teams that will thrive will be those that recognise that learners are increasingly behaving like consumers
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Jez Anderson


Use technology to empower socially activated learning


Informal learning ‘peer to peer’ is far from new, but recent changes in learning technologies are leading to more learning taking place virtually and more people sharing the learning experience

virtually. This change is leading to the proliferation of the personal professional network, which is something to be recognised and encouraged.

To embrace this, try to enable individuals to share their learning experiences and seek out the support of their peers. You should not, however, try and own it! Social learning is just that – try and make it formal and it’s no long a social experience; you need to trust that if the conditions are right for social learning it will take place.

As a result, L&D teams must seek to understand how learners learn, where and when they want or need to learn, as well as understand what it is they need to learn. The L&D teams that will thrive will be those that recognise that learners are increasingly behaving like consumers and therefore must seek to build learning cultures, develop learning strategies that enable and empower the learner to make the learning choices they need and want to make.