How to Create a Learning Environment at Work

Bring back the joy of school without the pain of exams!

How do you engage smart creative people day in and day out doing more or less the same job while expecting them to continue to be high performers?

By challenging them. Duh. Even better, grow them. Double Duh.

But what if we could do neither? The job demands a specific competence and person X has been hired to do it, as he’s the expert. Or on the other hand, the role is a junior one where there’s a certain amount of rigour that’s expected in order to become an expert, and hence there is no quick way to introduce ‘freshness’ into the job either.

So how do we make the mundane, novel? One easy way is to create a Culture of Learning.

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In a stunning reversal of scientific belief where it was thought that the brain did not grow any new cells after childhood, it is now found that the human brain continues to grow, learn and evolve throughout the individual’s life up till death. Scientists have found the elderly to have the same amount of neurons as teens!

At Zeven, we harness this inborn God given potential in simple yet effective ways.

  1. Learn. Relearn.
    Hockey is our national sport. Almost no one in the office knew how to play hockey. And so taking a cue from the fact that most of us watch more games than play them, we took to hiring professional coaches to take us through the nuances of popular sports at our trademark ‘Zeven Play Days’. We learnt how to serve right at the Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academy, had one of India’s best ex-goalies teach us how to block a hockey ball, and a team of basketball buffs who play every day dribbled us off our feet. Fun? Yes. More importantly, enriching? Yes!

  1. Product is King. And you can be the Hero.
    Pick a product. It could be your latest product offering, the cool new software you’ve developed, or a range of products whose popularity never seems to run out of steam. Create a short snappy ‘training’ around them. Quiz and Reward. At Zeven, anyone can become a Superman (or woman), and a scoreboard of topping super Hero’s is jealously watched and competed for. Who says learning is boring?

  2. Exercise those Brain Cells.
    Newspaper reading groups, a platter of the latest books that do the rounds of the office along with coffee, feedback stickers pasted @ the back of each book gently prompting the reader to leave a note for the next reader and regular sports quiz’s are just come of the ways we appeal to the cerebral lot.
  3. Specialist Sessions.
    Harness the internal talent pool by inviting anyone who has anything of worth to share. Our latest offering, the Gyan Guru series is built around this concept and we hope to have the finance team help us understand investment, the IT team teach us how to safeguard our children from the filth of the web world, and most importantly, the online sales team to part with that highly coveted skill: how to grab the best deal there is to grab (and not become a bakra in the process!)

  4.  Stay Open. Never underestimate the Aam Aadmi.
    Invite the larger team to contribute where ever takes their fancy. At our recent strategy meet we were blown away by the cool footwear videos our outstation sales team had created on their cell phones. Rather than spend a small fortune on an ‘agency’ who has to first learn who you are before they can even begin to create anything respectable on your behalf, turn these opportunities over to those who toil, labour and sweat for the company: the product guys who know each seam stitch and sew, the sales guys who know just what turns the customer on, maybe even the HR who understand motivation and other such drivers of success; they might surprise you. Big time.

Turns out that boredom can kill us. Learning something new on the other hand gives us a hit of dopamine, the same chemical that makes us feel good. And what better reason than that?

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