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3 Ways to Boost Team Learning in Your Organization

Thursday June 13, 2024

Female manager leading a team learning session, standing in front of three employees around a table

Individual coaching is a powerful tool for employee development. However, unless teams are given support and learning opportunities, companies will be missing out on an important component of organizational success.

When teams unlock the power of collective learning, they break down silos, improve collaboration, fuel innovation, and produce positive outcomes for the organization.

Team learning involves more than simply giving each employee an instruction manual and hoping they figure it out when it comes time to collaborate, however. Teams must be given the chance to learn as a unit, rather than simply a collection of individuals.

Here’s an overview of the importance of team learning, and three strategies for improving it at your organization.

The Importance of Team Learning

According to insights from Harvard Business Review (HBR), teams shape the employee experience. They provide new employees opportunities to learn and problem-solve, and more senior employees to share their knowledge and expertise.

 

According to HBR, while individual coaching is important, group learning is essential, as effective individual employees don’t automatically equate to a successful team.

The article argues that a leader’s job is to:

  • Provide support and guidance to the team
  • Help establish team norms and routines
  • Constantly create opportunities for team learning

Additional insights from McKinsey reveal that team learning is essential for teams to collaborate effectively and engage in successful decision-making.

What to Look For in a Team Learning Program

In today’s largely remote and hybrid work environment, effective collaboration requires employees to work both synchronously—involving real-time collaboration—and asynchronously—independently and on one’s own schedule.

When it comes to team learning, however, synchronous learning is the best approach. Teams must be given the opportunity to learn from one another and as a group.

For example, according to HBR, a key component of successful team-based learning is coaching the team as a singular unit. This involves asking questions and prompting discussion rather than simply providing answers.

This can provide immediate insights into the team’s effectiveness and equip them with real-time strategies for improving their team performance.

Ultimately, when searching for an effective team-learning program, it’s important to select one that’s cohort-based and synchronous, allowing the team to learn collectively in real time.

3 Strategies for Boosting Team Learning

A research study conducted by several experts—including Teamraderie advisor and Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson—highlighted the importance of several factors in team learning.

These factors include:

  • Team stability
  • Effective leadership behavior
  • Psychological safety

In order to promote team learning, it’s important to prioritize each of these factors.

Below is an analysis of each factor.

1. Prioritize Team Stability

The first factor mentioned in the study is team stability.

The study found that teams that stay together are able to learn more effectively and improve more quickly than teams that constantly replace team members.

This is particularly true when considering tacit—implicit, experience-based—knowledge.

This means that when prioritizing team learning, it’s also important to consider the factors that contribute to retention.

According to research from Gallup, the top areas contributing to attrition are:

  • Engagement and culture: Approximately 41% of employees leave their jobs due to factors including a lack of career development opportunities, poor workplace culture, and unrealistic job expectations.
  • Well-being and work-life balance: For 28% of employees, their reason for leaving includes factors like relocation, poor work-life balance, and low flexibility.
  • Pay and benefits: Around 16% of employees leave because they’re unsatisfied with their current compensation.
  • Managers and leaders: Roughly 12% of employees leave because of an issue with management or leadership.
  • Other: The remaining 3% of employees leave for other reasons that don’t fit the above categories.

This means that if employers want to retain their employees and create an environment conducive to learning, it’s important to prioritize factors like workplace culture, engagement, and well-being.

2. Promote Effective Management

According to Gallup’s 2024 State of the Global Workplace Report, managers account for approximately 70% of the variance in employee engagement.

By definition, leaders and managers hold a certain degree of power over their employees.

However, when this power imbalance becomes a conduit for toxic leadership or prevents employees from making autonomous decisions, it becomes a problem.

An article published in Forbes suggests that leaders adapt their mindset from “power-over” to “power-with.”

According to author and psychologist Tania Luna, a “power-over” mentality refers to using power to control employees. “Power-with,” on the other hand, is about building employees up to increase the team’s collective capacity to get things done.

Edmondson et al.’s research reveals that team learning thrives when leaders minimize these power imbalances, embrace open communication, and actively encourage learning.

3. Cultivate Psychological Safety

Edmondson is perhaps best known for her work on team psychological safety.

“Psychological safety describes a work environment where people believe that speaking up is feasible,” says Edmondson in the Teamraderie Leadership Lab event, Creating a Fearless Organization. “Not easy, necessarily, but expected, desired, welcomed.”

Psychological safety is known for improving a wide range of business outcomes, including communication, collaboration, and innovation.

According to the World Economic Forum, psychological safety enables team learning by making it safe to ask questions, admit mistakes, and give and receive feedback from others.

Creating a psychologically safe environment helps neutralize the fear of embarrassment for speaking up, asking questions, or voicing an opinion. According to HBR, this helps advance and speed up team learning.

Improving Team Learning With Teamraderie

As mentioned above, the most effective team learning is cohort-based and synchronous.

Teamraderie’s live, virtual team experiences are an excellent way to facilitate team-based learning.

Our team experiences are live—allowing for real-time interaction—and expert-led, with hosts including authors, founders, speakers, Harvard Business School and Stanford professors, thought leaders, and even Olympic athletes.

Our experiences allow your team to learn from these expert hosts, ask them questions, and receive personalized support for your team.

Additionally, teams that participated in Teamraderie experiences saw an increase of approximately 22% in employee engagement, which is a key factor in retention.

Click here to check out our experience finder to select from over 60 experiences that promote team learning.

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