In our previous blog, we articulated how a judicious mix of instructor-led and online learning strategies will make your organization conducive for learning. In this section, we focus on how learning has pervaded every sphere of life in a manner that is informal and social. Basically, learning per se has become a social cognitive process.
Learning is happening all the time, and by extremely informal means, in and around the organization especially by the Millennials – the Gen Y, that is. So much that learning and working have become inter-changeable terms. Today’s learnscape must accommodate both Gen X and Gen Y in a fashion that both these vital groups continuously and smartly are one step ahead in the learning curve. This goal is not a Utopian one. It can be achieved by integrating all forms of corporate learning into an environment that is reassuring and dynamic, and thus easily embraced by the workforce.
Let’s look at what informal and social learning constitute –
Informal learning is any learning that one does on one’s own – wikis, blogs, articles, self-study etc.
Social learning sweeps across people – conversations, networking, collaboration etc.
Now imagine these learning formats plus instructor-led and online learning- all easily accessible in an organization such that learning is THE ecosystem, a hub where the workforce naturally gravitate to for information, enlightenment AND entertainment!
The first ecosystem that immediately comes to mind is a robust Learning Management System (LMS) that accommodates all of these in extremely easy-to-use, user-friendly manner.
Let’s look at a scenario. An employee has just completed his/her appraisal, and must immediately get to work on some strong feedback by the appraiser that his/her Business Communication Skills are not up to mark and this lacuna is visibly affecting the work – both within his/her own team and relationships with his/her customers. In three months time, the employee will be again appraised specifically on his/her Business Communication skills. Three months is not all the time in the world to become proficient in Business Communication. In reality, it is a stretch!
But just imagine that your company has a deep learning ecosystem in their Learning Management System combining all the forms of learning for people of different generations and learning affinities. Your employee can then do all or any of the following and emerge a winner!
Log on to the LMS, browse through the training calendar, and get nominated for a regular classroom course on Business Communication, attend, review material and links posted by the facilitator, sound out colleagues, share best practices, brainstorm and finally submit assignments, review mistakes and correct.
Log on to the LMS, browse eLearning courses available, choose one, learn at leisure, link to references, collaborate with colleagues on internal social media – networks, groups, chats, forums, share best practices, take the assessments, download results. During ‘dead time’ on the move, do the same on the mobile.
Log on to the LMS, collaborate with your co-learners/colleagues on internal social media – networks, groups, chats, forums, study yourself via the vast array of internet sources, bounce off ideas/solutions/answers through the network again, share best practices, and when you are confident, choose a scenario/case-study/virtual learning/regular assessment package from your LMS, complete it and download results.
All the employee has to do is to present this assessment to the appraiser. Such an intensive three-month workout is bound to have made visible improvements to the employee’s day to day business communication interactions and in turn improved the overall quality of work both within and outside, and the appraiser would have an on-the-job record of that aspect. The formal assessment results would complement the on-the-floor progress.
And voila – you have a pattern of truly integrated, engaging, responsible, measurable and along the way definitely enlightening and entertaining learning.
For this to happen, organizations must first have the maturity of mindset and second the commitment to an investment in technology and a broad-minded Learning and Development function who have the will and the way to deeply engage with the business AND the employees to make this happen, in as seamless and secular a fashion, as possible.
Because Learning is Everybody’s Business.