A new model of workplace learning

It’s pretty clear it’s time for innovative thinking on how to solve organisational performance problems and help people grow and develop in the modern workplace. It’s no longer about applying old training practices and templates to new problems.

So, whilst there is a lot that can be done to improve the appeal of classroom training or e-learning to bring it in line with the way people learn on the Web, it is far more important to ensure that training is the most appropriate solution to a problem in the first place, and then, and only then, ensure it is offered to the individuals concerned in a format that is relevant and meaningful for them.

But, it is also time now to place more effort on helping individuals learn in the ways they find more valuable. In other words, the new work for L&D will mean becoming a trusted advisor to the business and supporting learning from the daily work. This will involve working closely with managers to help them grow and develop their own teams, as well as working with individuals to get the most out of their daily work experiences.

There is also important work to be done in helping to establish a strong knowledge sharing culture in teams, groups and across the organisation – since this is where the real social learning takes place. But this new work won’t mean organising and managing learning in the old, traditional, formal ways –  but rather working with managers and teams on the ground and in the ways that best suit them.

And, it is also time to encourage and help individuals to become more self-reliant and self-sufficient individuals and learn from a wide variety of sources: content, people, events and experiences – both inside and outside their organisation.  This is how they will be able to personalise their own learning so that it fits their own needs – by having more choice and flexibility over what they do. It will also mean they can “bring the outside in” so their organisations can learn from them and grow and thrive.

Shelley Osborne summarises the situation well.

“It’s time for L&D and HR professionals to promote the value of continuous learning and move their teams away from the static programs that helped to breed the bad reputation of corporate training.”

Lifelong learning is now more important than ever, and Anne Lise Kjaer, a futurist, sums up very well the discussion in this chapter.

“The world is changing; complexity in society and business growth is changing the future of jobs and skills. Evolving technologies, notably robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are driving automation of ever more traditional jobs and rewriting the rules of education and skills. To this end, individuals as well as organisations will need to adopt a growth mindset and nurture the creativity, agility and lifelong learning skills that will make us, not just resilient, but thriving as the world changes.”

Although it is ultimately up to every individual to stay relevant by becoming a lifelong learner, many agencies and organizations now have a big part to play in supporting lifelong learning. Schools and universities can prepare students with the mindset and skills they will need for a life of continuous learning; and there are plenty of opportunities for both academic, professional as well as non-mainstream organisations to offer continuous education to individuals as they wend their way through their work life.  In fact, Mary Meeker has shown in her Internet Trends 2018 report that education content is ramping up fast to support lifelong learning.

But it is also quite clear that companies now need to provide continuous learning opportunities, and ensure that they’re promoting independent lifelong learning within their organization. So what does this actually mean?

It is important to reiterate that continuous learning in the workplace is more than just delivering continuous (micro-)training or implementing a course library (like Lynda or Coursera) for employees to make use of – and thinking by doing that, that the “continuous learning” box can be ticked.

In other words, in today’s workplace, formal, career-directed training isn’t the only thing that an employer should provide; there are plenty of other opportunities that can help employees that aren’t exclusively focused on the job at hand. So, this means enabling and supporting all the different ways of learning inside and outside the organisation – as shown on the diagram below.

So what are you currently doing and what do you plan to do in the future?


L&D priorities in 2019

Last updated: January 17, 2019 at 10:50 am

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