A Learning Culture

When we hire new team members at Interstates, we often share that we are committed to employee development and learning. We want to help team members grow, provide opportunities, and create a learning culture. (And frankly, many new team members tell us we do pretty well at it with our commitment to EIL, education budgets, etc.) What I think might be good for us to reflect on is the question, “What is a learning culture?”

I want to suggest that when we think of Interstates as having a learning culture, we place a lot of emphasis on the individual receiving “the learning.” I believe there is more to it than that. If we want a learning culture, we need to create a curiosity in each individual to figure out how to improve the organization. It is the combination of educating the individual and the organization that allows us to improve continuously.

Recently I was reviewing a book written about Jack Welch and GE. Welch was the CEO of GE from 1981 to 2001. There was a paragraph in that book that stood out to me, “Building a learning culture has put pressure on GE’s leaders. Steve Kerr says, ‘Sometimes the leaders have said to me, ‘I have a best practice, and Jack Welch is coming to visit. Help me move the best practice around the company. I don’t want to get caught with it alone when Jack arrives.’  The point is that the manager understands there will be no reward for having a good idea, only in sharing it with others.”

How good are we at sharing “it” with others? Whether the sharing is between team members or across the Interstates Companies, do we make it a point to share our best practices and ideas? Do we feel a sense of responsibility to make sure our good idea is available to others so they can implement something similar or improve on our idea?

Like GE, we have a great opportunity to find better ways of doing things. We have peers and counterparts all across Interstates that are great resources to help us learn. At times, I think we do very well at collaborating and sharing ideas. However, I know we (myself included) have a lot of opportunities to continue to grow in this area.

I have two challenges for you:

  1. Be open and curious as to what others are doing from which you might learn.
  2. Think of one thing you are doing that might be worth sharing with someone else that they might learn from you.

Continue Leading the Interstates Way!

Jack Woelber


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