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      How to assess your learning culture

      by Anna Dillon

      Learning and development strategies

      To build a positive, effective learning culture in organisations, you need to understand the level of involvement that managers and employees feel they have in organisational learning.

      As suggested in Towards Maturity’s Annual Research Report, enabling employees and managers to take more ownership of workplace learning can change your company’s L&D function from one of mere learning delivery to, instead, a role of enablement and empowerment.

      ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’ - Benjamin Franklin

      Has your organisation succeeded in creating a learning culture?


      Even if you think it has, it’s worth double-checking. A good starting point – and in keeping with this approach of employee involvement – is carrying out a culture assessment among your employees. Find out how they perceive the learning culture in your workplace; don’t simply assume that their perceptions will match your understanding of the status quo. Discover what knowledge and skills, what performance improvement, they feel they’ve gained from their learning at work. See if your company really has developed a learning culture that’s rewarding each employee and ultimately, the whole organisation.


      learning culture infographic


      We’ve got just the tool for you to do this: 20 questions for your employees. This is a simple, practical and powerful approach to assessing learning culture – since, as Stephen Gill from 'Learning to be Great' puts it, asking questions is ‘the routine activity’ of an organisation that supports learning. You could distribute these questions among your employees as an anonymous survey, and then use the results to form an interesting and insightful report. If you’d like granularity in the results, you could change the questions to statements with graded responses – for example:


      Strongly agree




      Neither agree
      nor disagree




      Strongly disagree



      Your employees’ responses will reveal how they perceive your organisation’s philosophy and practice of learning. Their answers will also shed light on their personal attitudes towards learning. You’ll see how successful your organisation’s learning values and strategies are, and how you can improve these, where necessary – for instance, using online learning to close skills gaps, making greater use of social learning, or transforming your LMS. You’ll be able to plot the steps to align your employees’ perceptions, motivations and actual learning activities; your senior leaders’ best practice in communicating and carrying out learning; and your organisation’s desired learning culture.

      barriers to learning CTA

      20 questions to assess your learning culture

      Employees’ attitudes and perceptions

      • What’s the biggest motivation or incentive for you to learn at work?
      • What are the types of learning that you can do in your organisation, and what types of learning do you see happening and being applied in your workplace?
      • Who’s the most important person in the organisation when it comes to your workplace learning?
      • Do you feel like your manager, your L&D colleagues and your senior leaders trust you to manage your own learning?
      • How open to change are your leaders when it comes to workplace learning (for instance, how prepared are they to improve training opportunities)?
      • How important is learning for your organisation’s success?
      • Do your manager, L&D team and senior leaders encourage you to set learning goals and try new ways of learning at work?
      • How often do you take the chance to do extra, informal, self-directed learning (i.e., learning that hasn’t been allocated to you or doesn’t appear in your personal development plan)?
      • Do you regularly and openly share information that you have learned informally?
      • What types of learning do you think the organisation does best and worst?
      • In what ways, and how often, do you and your colleagues learn from each other?

      Organisation’s approach to learning

      • How frequently do you engage with your L&D colleagues and your leaders about your learning at work (e.g. providing feedback on your own experiences, or suggesting new ideas for learning in the organisation)?
      • How much input do you provide for your own learning plan?
      • Do you see and/or hear learning being discussed at managerial or senior leadership level in your workplace?
      • Has your manager communicated clearly to you what’s expected of you in your professional development?
      • Is your manager aware of the progress you’re making in your formal learning – e.g. how you’re doing in training courses you’re doing?
      • How easy do you feel it is to discuss your professional development with your manager?
      • Do you understand clearly how your learning ties in with the organisation’s goals?
      • What are the biggest challenges or obstacles to your workplace learning?


      • How do you know if your learning at work has been successful?

      As you equip yourself with your colleagues’ responses to these questions, you can be satisfied that you’re spearheading the dialogue, cooperation and openness to change that are at the heart of a thriving learning culture.

      Read our article on learning culture for help with practical ways to transform a learning culture into a key driver of business success.


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