“They’ll dismiss me, ignore me, and fire me.”
“My credibility will be shot.”
“I’m putting my relationships and my job on the line.”

These are sentiments we’ve heard from comms teams when describing the risks involved in learning on the job and trying new things in the workplace. There’s obviously very real fear and emotions at play, especially in a setting where you’re judged on your performance and success – and that judgment can impact your career and livelihood.

As their leader, if you’re able to mitigate some of these risks and create a culture of continuous learning, you’ll be building a function with real value and credibility that’s truly fit for purpose now and in the future. Below are five ways to get started.

1. Identify and remove blocks to learning.

Listen to your team and find out what’s stopping them from being able to learn effectively or implement what they’ve learned. These blocks are often things like too much corporate red tape, tight deadlines that don’t allow time for trying out new things, or incentives/performance assessments based on traditional ways of working rather than risk-taking. After hearing what’s actually getting in the way, take action to help remove those roadblocks.

2. Be open and transparent about your personal challenges and weaknesses.

While it may feel like you’re exposing vulnerabilities, acknowledging your own areas for learning actually builds trust. Leaders often feel pressure to have all the answers – and the right ones at that! – but it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” Ask questions, encourage input, and give others the chance to lead. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised with new ideas or ways of looking at things.

3. Clarify expectations and connections for learning as a key aspect of performance.

Make learning a priority for the team and part of their job performance. Consider creating a learning goal as part of your team’s objective-setting or incentivising learning activities. Learning opportunities are often thought of as specialised courses or training sessions, and perhaps just for certain roles or levels of employees. But learning happens everywhere – within all positions, tasks, and outcomes. Help your team to recognise all the connections for learning throughout their work and day-to-day experiences in the organisation.

4. Be respectful and nurturing of everyone’s diverse talents and ways of learning.

There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to learning. Some may be visual leaners while others learn best through hearing and listening. Ask team members how they prefer to learn and do your best to accommodate them. Collectively, your team is full of varied experiences, knowledge, ideas, expertise, and skills – encourage everyone to share those things so all can grow and learn from each other.

5. Take risks and grow from failure.

For any organisation to grow and be competitive, they have to be innovative and willing to take risks. Support your team to experiment, try new things, be creative, and take calculated risks. If they’re still nervous, encourage people to break big risks into smaller ones so the potential costs aren’t wildly disruptive. Praise those who take calculated risks even if they didn’t pay off. Share your experiences of failure and how you grew from them – and help your team to learn from their own experiences.


At Kademy, we include leaders in team training and development, to help embed the teachings, change behaviours and nurture a culture of learning and ongoing improvement. Learn more about how we can help upskill your team and raise the bar on communications performance in your company.