Observational Learning is broadly defined as learning that occurs by observing the behaviors of others. Since the dawn of humanity, observational learning has impacted the way whole human civilizations have formed. Today, we can apply the principles of observational learning to make exciting impacts on the way we behave and interact within our workplaces. Leading by example (the right way) can become the cornerstone for culture transformation (on an organizational scale), and career development (on an individual scale) both of which result in rapid innovation. That’s a recipe most of us can get behind. Let’s dive into the impacts of learning, Inclusion, belonging and an innovation culture.
Phase 1: Leading by Example
Unlike other forms of learning, Observational Learning does not require reinforcement, but rather is predicated on a social model and environmental surroundings. In the context of your everyday household, this can be seen in a parent-child relationship, in the workplace, it comes down to leadership setting the right example. Every workplace has leadership figures and while they come in different shapes and sizes, they share a common impact on workplace culture. Leaders that lead inclusively are the catalysts that embed a strong culture of innovation and belonging. This dynamic as it relates to Observational Learning is rooted in workplace relationships which we will discuss next.
Phase 2: Workplace Hierarchy and Mentorship
As a principle, the effectiveness of Observational Learning is rooted in the presence of social hierarchy. Alone, hierarchy only stands to create barriers between a company and its workforce, destroying any sense of trust. However, when we have company hierarchy built around an inclusive culture, Observational Learning can become an asset to both professional development and team culture. As many companies continue to break down the barriers between leadership and their workforce, mentoring relationships are more valuable than ever to creating a people experience that prompts, belonging, job satisfaction, and innovation.
Phase 3: Individual, Team, Company Transformation
Observational Learning can positively impact workplace culture when people learn to be inclusive. An innovation culture can be embedded and sustained when inclusive behaviors are demonstrated and witnessed every day. Observational Learning allows inclusive behaviors to expand throughout an organization. This creates a ‘speak-up’ culture forged from strong workplace relationships that allows innovation to thrive. As a result, we witness individuals thrive professionally, prompting career advancement and long-term company success as a result of talent retention and further innovation.
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