learners mindset
Management & Mindset

How to Promote and Encourage a Learner’s Mindset for Remote Teams

Working from home has become the new normal for many offices worldwide. Just look at the data.

According to Apollo Technical Engineered Talent Solutions, approximately 4.7 million Americans work remotely at least half of the time. They predict this number will increase to 36.2 million people by 2025, which would represent 22% of the entire workforce. A survey conducted by Slack in six countries also found that 72% of people prefer a hybrid work-office model

These stats aren’t entirely surprising since remote work saves employers and employees from annoyances like long commutes and paying for office space. While this trend has generally been positive for many, it’s not without challenges.

For instance, some companies have expressed difficulty in building strong team rapport. Since everyone is so focused on getting things done, courses, seminars, and other training activities often fall to the wayside.

In today’s article, we’ll highlight the importance of personal and professional growth by sharing tips on promoting and encouraging a learner’s mindset for remote teams.

What is a learner’s mindset?

Since many businesses haven’t been face-to-face with employees over the last two years, managers have shifted their resources toward building a thriving remote work environment. One concept that many organizations are focusing on is helping employees develop a learner’s mindset.

In a nutshell, a learner's mindset is when an individual considers every new experience as an opportunity to learn. People who possess this mentality can adapt to their surroundings better and absorb information faster.

A learner's mindset is when an individual considers every new experience as an opportunity to learn.

Although this can be applied to any situation, it has become increasingly crucial in companies with a work-from-home setup. When most team members exhibit a learner’s mindset, it creates a positive work environment and workplace culture where they can achieve goals faster. For example, rather than trying to do everything “the old way,” team members are open-minded enough to adapt to new processes.

Furthermore, when team members view learning as beneficial to both the company and themselves, they become more driven. It pushes them to do more because suddenly, work isn’t just a job anymore. Ultimately, it creates a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Key to the concept of a learner’s mindset is the difference between a growth and fixed mindset. 

A learner's mindset is like a growth mindset
Growth and fixed mindsets are similar ideas; their main difference is that a growth mindset is a belief while a learner’s mindset is about action.

These are two other terms that describe a person’s approach to new experiences. A growth mindset is when someone sees an event as an opportunity to grow. They enjoy trying new things and are inspired by the success of others. This causes them to embrace challenges.

On the other hand, a fixed mindset is when an individual believes that skills are purely intrinsic and cannot be developed. As such, they see failure as a limitation of their abilities. They often give up easily, prefer tasks that play to their strengths, and can be difficult to motivate.

Needless to say, we all prefer dealing with people who have a growth mindset.

At this point, you might be wondering what the difference is between a growth mindset and a learner’s mindset. Admittedly, these two are very similar. Their main difference is that a growth mindset is a belief while a learner’s mindset is about action.

For instance, an employee with a growth mindset will be open to accepting a new job title because they believe that they can grow into the role. A person with a learner’s mindset, on the other hand, will be excited to adopt new project management software like Asana or its alternatives so they can make their workdays more efficient.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Learning Organization

7 Ways to Promote and Encourage a Learner Mindset for Remote Teams

Building a team with a collective learner’s mindset won’t happen overnight. It takes some time to develop the right habits. To help, we’ve compiled seven best practices to help your group get there.

1. Set realistic goals

Creating a learner mindset starts from setting your objectives. At the beginning of every week, month, or year, set goals for the team as well as each individual. This should give everyone a clear view of what needs to be done. 

When identifying these targets, ensure they’re attainable, time-bound, and measurable. They should also be challenging enough to stimulate the group. This allows them to think of creative solutions and strategies while learning new things along the way. 

To do this effectively, consider giving your team access to Google tools. Most of them are free and are easy to get started with. Broadening resources will do wonders for your team in terms of research, planning, assigning tasks, and measuring success.

Related: Our 3-Step Process for Using OKRs to Drive Performance (+ Free OKR Template)

2. Invest in upskilling and reskilling

Going through mundane tasks on a daily basis can be extremely boring, especially for those who are free spirits. If this happens, it can demoralize an employee, leading to poor productivity, burnout, or worse, resignation.

One way to prevent this is by teaching employees new skills or allowing them to re-learn older skills they may have forgotten. Doing so will give them a fresh perspective, expand their knowledge, and give them a breather in the middle of a tiring work week. We recommend setting aside at least one hour each day for this. 

Encourage your team to learn through books, courses, or other documents. For instance, you can give them access to websites like StuDocu or Skillshare, which are amazing resources for learning. Even better, your employees can also create courses themselves, based on their subject-matter expertise, using a collaborative learning approach.

Marketing books, in particular, can take your business to the next level. For your sales or marketing team, reading these books may seem like a major time commitment at first glance, but you might discover some hidden gems while flipping through the pages. 

3. Develop team building exercises that promote engagement

Team-building exercises can help create a learner’s mindset for remote teams. When groups of individuals work together to reach a common purpose, it not only strengthens rapport and camaraderie but also encourages out-of-the-box thinking. 

Activities like escape rooms, online scavenger hunts, and corporate retreats can now be done online. As you plan these, make them as fun as possible, so morale remains high, and everyone feels engaged. If you can somehow tie it back to your line of work, that would be even better.

Just remember to end every activity with a short processing session. This will allow all participants to understand the essence of each task, share their thoughts and feelings, and learn from one another. 

4. Give constructive feedback that promotes learning

When an employee does something wrong, don’t be overly harsh them. That will only make them lose all confidence. Rather, guide them to recognize where they went wrong and determine how to rectify that mistake. 

As much as possible, share any personal insight that might give them additional clarity. This kind of one-on-one help may feel like a huge time-sink to a manager, but it could mean the world to your employee and positively boost their engagement levels and loyalty. More importantly, it will go a long way toward creating a safe learning environment.

Let’s be honest, workers make mistakes because they don’t know any better. It’s neither intentional nor malicious. Providing employees access to more company resources will enable them to grow their skills and better understand the needs of the business. Consider running a bottom-up training needs analysis to better understand your team’s skills gaps.

peer feedback asset

The template you need to make sure your peer feedback isn't shooting you in the foot.

5. Use success and failures as learning opportunities

Successes and failures are part of running a company, with neither being more important than the other. You can maximize these experiences by treating them as learning opportunities.

Make it a habit to reflect on your initiatives, whether new or old. Always ask your staff what they realized, how they feel things went, where improvements can still be made, and what they would have done differently. 

This practice will go a long way toward preserving their confidence, so they won't be scared to shake things up a bit. After all, this is the only way to get better, right?

For instance, a marketing firm that just recently concluded a major campaign could spend one whole day evaluating everything that happened. By all means, celebrate the successes. But also acknowledge failures to recognize potential areas for growth.

Related: L&D Plus Leadership: How to Encourage Your C-Suite to See Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

6. Encourage team members to speak up and respect their viewpoints

When working within a group, constant communication is crucial. Whenever a team member has something to say, listen attentively and respect their viewpoints. The worst thing you can do is become defensive and invalidate their thoughts.

Importance of communication for learner's mindset

Sharing insights must always be welcome because it adds richness to the discussion. In other words, sharing enables team members to see things from different perspectives. This is key to developing a learner’s mindset.

One last reminder—make sure to ask follow-up questions. Doing so will not only make the sharer feel heard, but it will also encourage listeners to come up with their own answers.

7. Celebrate personal and team growth

Finally, whenever things go your way, and you end up reaching milestones, don’t just shrug it off. Make it a point to recognize those who contributed to that success and celebrate wins on a personal and team level.

For some, this may seem counterproductive. However, in actuality, it helps create a positive work environment. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to work harder, especially when they feel an affinity toward you. Acknowledging their efforts is a healthy way to motivate them to overcome even bigger challenges in the future.

Celebrating company successes doesn’t always have to be frivolous. Something as simple as a shoutout during a team meeting can be enough.

Moreover, additional rest days and vacation leave to celebrate successes can be another powerful strategy. According to Los Angeles-based staffing firm Robert Half, 70% of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic say they now work on the weekends, so having extra time to unwind will do wonders for their mental and physical health.

Related: Employee Wellness Programs: How to Set Goals and Objectives

What’s next?

As you can see, having a learner’s mindset, especially in a remote work setup, is crucial to success. When workers see each task and challenge as a learning opportunity, it creates positive changes for the company. Goals are achieved, problems are managed better, and everyone holds each other accountable.

However, we also acknowledge that creating this mentality won’t be easy. For most companies, it will take some time to perfect. You can help this process by providing your employees with enough online and offline resources, creating a safe space to share their feelings, giving helpful feedback, and prioritizing rest.

Once again, this may seem like a lot. But trust us, when done properly, it will do wonders to promote and encourage a learner’s mindset for your remote team.