How fostering a learning-centered organization keeps employees — and the learners they coach — advancing forward
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Wise words, and a wonderfully concise explanation of what it means to be a lifelong learner. At InsideTrack, we strive to bring a growth mindset into all the work we do, knowing that every day we open ourselves to learning is a day we advance our own journey — and that advancement, in turn, helps us better serve the learners and organizations we support. Given our work supporting individuals who are progressing their education and their career, it’s only right that we do the same. Here’s a look at some of the ways InsideTrack staff members make learning an integral part of our organizational culture.
Opportunities for organization-wide knowledge sharing
Month of Learning (MoL)
October is best known for leaves changing colors and Halloween. At InsideTrack, however, October is known as Month of Learning. This much-anticipated yearly event features a full schedule of online workshops and learning sessions led by both outside experts and colleagues. Sessions are held live, but are also recorded for schedule flexibility. This dedicated learning time provides new perspectives on coaching and updates on real-world challenges for higher ed students, adult learners and those beginning or advancing their careers. The Month of Learning is about helping staff members improve themselves and the work they do. And it gives staff members organization-wide the chance to boost their mutual strengths, benefit from each other’s talents and learn new things.
Four times each year, all InsideTrack employees are invited to submit an application for a learning grant. The purpose of the Learning Grants program is to support all employees, regardless of their role, in pursuit of external learning opportunities. The benefit of these opportunities is threefold:
- To bring new insights that support our achievement of team and company goals
- To build our repertoire of relevant knowledge and skills that meet the needs of our workplace
- To fuel employees’ passion for continuous improvement and lifelong learning
Previous learning grants have been awarded for everything from leadership, wellness and project management training to participating in the SXSW EDU conference, joining Nashville’s Young Leaders Council training, taking online courses related to DEI, attending a science-backed behavioral change training, and enrolling in an online EdX course to build “joyful and resilient” virtual teams.
Recipients of individual learning grants are required to “bring back the learning” to share their new knowledge and insights with teammates. There are many formats this can take, but these “learners” often create presentations to share during the Month of Learning.
Opportunities for learning and advancing toward an equity mindset
With the belief that you can change a culture one word at a time, the InsideTrack DEI Manager has introduced a system for reporting microaggressions. The submission system provides a way for employees to anonymously (or non-anonymously, if the submitter chooses) describe microaggressions through a form that goes to our committee of reviewers. Submitted information is then used as a learning tool for the entire organization through company-wide meetings and other anonymous learning sessions, providing a way for employees to grow toward more inclusivity and acceptance in the workplace.
Through our collaborative partnerships with colleges and universities, we learned about similar tools that they use — and we worked to adapt them to fit our own specific organizational needs. The primary goal is always a safe, non-punitive way for employees to share microaggressions and other subtle acts of exclusion noticed in workplace behavior, with the goal being to facilitate anonymous, company-wide learning opportunities from these submissions. By delivering non-judgmental reports with the intention to educate, employees have an opportunity to have a more inclusive language practice across the organization. We’ve all heard the phrase “When you know better, you do better.” With this approach, we have the tools to help us do just that.
Equity Working Group
The InsideTrack Equity Working Group is comprised of volunteers from different departments throughout InsideTrack. Their goal? Focusing on pairing learnings that align with significant dates on the calendar — dates that recognize and celebrate diversity across an array of communities and identities. Events range from live speakers that present to the entire organization over Zoom, videos followed by facilitated discussion, and articles posted on Slack, our internal messaging platform.
The group also hosts frequent co-working meetings called “body double working sessions” — a concept commonly used in the ADHD community to support productivity. The idea is that for many people, feeling motivated and gaining a sense of togetherness is easier when you’re working in the same “room” — even when it’s a Zoom room — with other people. Body double working sessions also support community and productivity in InsideTrack’s remote workplace.
Opportunities to expand our coaching knowledge and expertise, furthering the support of our learners
Coach Listening Sessions
The InsideTrack Quality Management Team holds monthly company-wide Zoom meetings featuring a coach interaction with a learner — either as a recorded call or an extended text conversation that is read in the meeting. As our coaches will tell you, a lot can be learned by listening to an example of an exchange that went well. The listening sessions allow staff members across the company to hear firsthand the power of coaching and reflect on what was successful during the interaction.
The real gems of the listening sessions are the comments that rush in on the Zoom chat while the call is played. For example, a comment may highlight a new way a coach asked their learner about competing priorities. Or someone will comment on the noticeable buy-in from the learner when their coach normalized the challenges they’re facing. It’s powerful to listen to these exchanges as a group and witness the real-life impact of coaching. When questions come up after the call is played, the facilitator often directs the question back to the group for a response. Discussing ideas between coaches empowers the group to lean into what is working well with our coaching practices — and has a different feel than a top-down, one-right-answer approach.
Building Learning Opportunities into a Coach’s Success
Throughout the year, specially trained members of our quality team sit down with each InsideTrack coach to debrief their coaching interactions and share the coach’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. The guiding principle in these quarterly feedback sessions is that every call has strengths and every call has opportunities for improvement. This technique leaves coaches feeling seen and fuels their interest in learning what they can do better. InsideTrack’s coaching methodology and application are intentionally designed to encourage a sense of growth, awareness and fulfillment — supported by an organizational-wide culture of learning.
InsideTrack coaches are challenged and encouraged to improve upon their knowledge base and skillset — as well as advance within the organization — through a variety of internal coaching certification programs. This includes Trainer Certification, Developer Certification, Coaching-Powered Leader Certification and CLEAR Framework Micro-Credential, among others.
In addition, our Elevate leadership program helps employees from any department develop their leadership skills in a cohort model. Learners in the program meet regularly with a mentor to stretch beyond their current role to contribute and tackle organizational issues outside of their day-to-day work. Elevate also helps participants develop competencies and qualities that will strengthen leadership in any role, along with networking across the organization.
The more we learn, the more we want to learn more
By prioritizing continuing education as an organization, our coaches are able to bring new and relevant insights to our learners every day. It’s this win-win commitment to lifelong learning that encourages continual employee growth which, in turn, better serves our partners and their learners. Albert Einstein sums it up best, saying, “Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you will ever have is your mind and what you put into it.”
Curiosity goes hand-in-hand with learning — and it can help you better connect with learners. Seven InsideTrack coaches share simple and effective tips on the value of tapping into curiosity — for learners and those who support them.READ THE BLOG