In a new article on Modern Workplace Magazine, Jane Hart reports the latest results of her ongoing survey of worker opinions about the way they learn in the workplace. The results point to the trend toward more self-reliant learning methodologies.
Jane asked respondents to rate how important each of 10 ways of learning are to them in the workplace. The ten are:
- Self-directed study of external courses
- Internal company documents
- Job aids
- Knowledge sharing within your team
- General conversation and meetings with people
- Personal and professional networks and communities
- External blogs and news feeds
- Content curated from external sources
Web search for resources (e.g. using Google)
Knowledge Sharing within your team, Web search for resources, Conversations and meetings with people, and Networking and communities are clearly the four top ways identified as important. L&D can and should leverage these channels for learning.
That the work team is #1 is encouraging. I believe that creating learning activities to be performed by teams and facilitated by their manager is an untapped channel for learning. Average to great teams have a high level of trust amongst each other, a common mission, and more contact time with each other than with others in the organization. The manager can coach/mentor and build the learning objectives into their performance management efforts. They have common work products to reflect upon and learn from.
I’ve written about how I feel conversations are so important to learning (see Oh, The Conversations We Will Have). L&D can do more to scaffold conversations around key learning needs of the organization. “Marketing campaigns” can be used to initiate work of mouth sharing of ideas and concepts. Special events (ie, meetings) can be arranged to discuss key issues, challenges, or to brainstorm new ideas. There any number of ways work conversations and meetings can be influenced to be about or include learning experiences.
Helping employees to build their personal, organizational and professional learning networks and communities needs to be a role that L&D embraces. Helping employees to understand how and why they should be continuously building their networks and joining communities that will help them grow professionally will have benefit in building a learning culture in the organization and in overall capability of the workforce.
Two other interesting results from the survey are that 1) L&D’s bread and butter – face-to-face training and e-learning come in dead last and 2) maybe self-directed learning and content curation might not be as well accepted as some would like to have us believe.
The fact that face-to-face and e-learning come in last isn’t a big surprise. It’s pretty well understood that L&D needs to look a 1) moving much of learning out of these formats and into more social and informal formats and 2) what content is left that is best delivered via these formats needs to be looked to improve its quality.
While I do have my own reservations about how motivated overworked employees will be to be self-directing in their learning and how many will want to curate content, I also wonder if these two ways of learning may see an upswing in the years to come. I’m not sure about how many employees 1) know what these ways of learning are or 2) how to learn through them. Both are very new ideas and how they are best delivered hasn’t settled out yet.