What Is A Learning Culture And Why Is It Vital For Retail Success?

Nov 2018Blog

The only thing worse than training an employee and losing them, is not training them, and keeping them.
-Zig Ziglar

What is a ‘learning culture’ and why would having one increase your chances of staying competitive as a retail business in today’s market?

A ‘learning culture’ is created when an organisation fosters an environment which challenges and provides opportunities for its employees to continually learn, question and innovate. Training is the key element in creating a successful team and should be a priority for any retail business – but it only works in an organisation which has a healthy learning culture.

As Ray Stata, former CEO of Analog Devices, states, “The rate at which organisations and individuals learn may well become the only sustainable competitive advantage. Products can be copied. Services can be copied. Even processes can be copied. But, if you’re learning more rapidly than the competition, you can get ahead and stay ahead.”

If you aren’t learning (growing, improving, adapting) the inevitable result is stagnation. And in today’s highly-competitive and fast-moving markets – stagnation is the death of a retail business.

What does a learning culture look like?

A retail company with a growth culture results in a business which continues to grow and brings employees along on the journey with great communication, training and development.

Start-ups or growing tech retailers (The Iconic and Uniqlo consider themselves tech businesses) are learning organisations by default, as they continuously adapt to the changes in technology. This allows them to stay competitive and innovative, winning and retaining customers by using technology to their advantage.

On the flip side, a retail business which struggles to adapt, is a business which is not effectively learning and responding to the changes in the market, or implementing changes in the company. Employees continue to do things the way they have always been done, and learning and change are feared, not encouraged.

How does a Learning Culture benefit your business?

A learning culture helps you win/keep customers, remain competitive, and ensures all members of your team are continually learning, on the same page with your business strategies and you are all aiming towards the same goal.

This helps you:

  • Make greater use of employees at all levels of the organisation
  • Stimulate continuous improvement in all areas of the organisation
  • Increase the pace of change
  • Attract the best employees and improve retention
  • Increase employees’ commitment and creativity
  • Increase engagement
  • Ensure you are better placed to respond to external pressures
  • Improve quality of outputs

Characteristics of a business WITHOUT a learning culture…

  • Employees have a fixed mindset
  • Egos are important in the organisation culture
  • Fear and blame are cultural issues
  • Communication is not effective
  • Goals are not common
  • Engagement and retention can be low. If employees like things to stay the same, engagement can be high but innovation will be low
  • A belief that ‘the way we have always done it is the right way’
  • There’s no need for change
  • We know better

Change the mindset- change the company.

The set of attitudes held by a person which dictates how they act is called their ‘mindset’ – so an employee’s mindset will directly impact the culture of the organisation they work in, along with their ability to innovate and be effective in their role.

Researcher Carol Dweck, proposes there are two types of mindsets: a growth mindset and a fixed mindset;

  • A growth mindset = a motivation to learn and grow, develop talents and abilities, thrive on through hard work, good strategies, and welcome help from others.
  • A fixed mindset = a belief that you ‘are what you are’, a fear of failure, judgement and blame, covering up mistakes, approval seeking and a lack of innovation.

A growth mindset is essential for motivated employees, a healthy learning culture and to receive the most benefit from training.

A business WITH a learning culture understands…

  • The need for the business and employees to have a growth mindset
  • They never finish learning
  • The need to train & develop staff
  • Their organisation needs an open culture, with clear two way communication
  • They need to encourage employees to challenge the status quo, ask questions and bring new ideas to the table
  • They need to empower employees giving them opportunities to make mistakes and grow in a safe environment
  • Fear is the enemy of growth, they do not make decisions based on fear and ensure it does not become part of their culture

How can our team at Numensa help your business achieve a learning culture?

 If this blog has made you realise the need for a learning culture in your own company, our team at Numensa specialise in retail consulting, business transformation, change management and training – and can help you create and implement a growth culture in your business to help you succeed.

We believe the key is clear communication, expectations and responsibilities, safe sharing of ideas, a blame-free culture and support for each other, common goals and buy-in from all employees. We assess your needs and work with you to implement this in a way that is unique to your organisation, as every retail business is unique.

Creating a culture where learning is valued, and where the right training is prioritised to get the most value from your team, will improve communication, engagement, retention and ability to change and adapt – helping you stay competitive and your business succeed.

Contact us today to find out how we can help your business learn, grow and improve.