Continuous learning in the modern workplace

This is a page of the first FREE section of MWL 2023


When it comes to continuous learning in the modern workplace, it essentially means two things:

  1. Continuously learning from the daily work
  2. Continuous self-development

Here is a brief summary of what this means for the individual, their manager and L&D

1 – Continuously Learning from the Daily Work 

The workplace is a vibrant learning environment, but even when work takes place remotely this can still be the case. However, INDIVIDUALS will need to think differently about how they can extract the learning from daily work. In order to thrive in today’s hybrid workplace, they will need to become more self-sufficient and self-reliant. This includes trying to solve their own performance problems, and managing their manager – also known as managing up!

MANAGERS will also need to understand that in the modern workplace their role is more of a coach than a boss, and they are there to provide an environment conducive to continuous learning by fostering flexibility and freedom in the workplace as well as adopting a growth mindset. This will certainly be a new way of working for many managers who are used to simply direct their people, so a key aspect of the work of the L&D will be to inspire and support modern managers. This won’t mean putting them on a management course but taking time to sit with them and consider a number of issues about what motivates today’s workers and how they can help them to grow and develop and how they might support their new role

When it comes to learning from the daily work, this is something that is not always apparent to individuals. And yet, we know it happens in many different, subtle ways during the working day.  However, as Dewey tells us “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.” So  in order to become more aware of their daily learning experiences, workers will need to take some time to reflect on what they have done each day.  Of course, this needs to be  encouraged and supported by MANAGERS,

And, when it comes to learning in the flow of work – that is when they need to solve performance problems or remind themselves how to undertake a task or activity, INDIVIDUALS will need to have access to range of performance support mechanisms (e.g. content, people and tools) – and this is where L&D can provide valuable support.

INDIVIDUALS should  be encouraged to ask for help and advice from their work colleagues as well as share their own knowledge and experiences with their team. Building a knowledge sharing is a key aspect of work today and something that MANAGERS will need to understand, value and support. Although knowledge sharing doesn’t require any social tools to take place, social technologies (like Microsoft Teams, Yammer and Slack) can make the process of sharing much easier. Although many teams are, undoubtedly, now making greater use of their online social platforms for remote work, managers need to recognise that these very same platforms can be used to share knowledge and experiences within the team. L&D can help with team building events and activities

2 – Continuous Self-Development

When it comes to INDIVIDUALS’ own continuous self-development, they will need to understand the economic imperative for doing this, and then be confident enough to adopt a plan of action that fits best with their own way of working (although this may need to fit in with their manager’s and teams approach to self-development).

One option might be to establish a daily learning habit whereby they spend say 20-30 minutes doing something for themselves – learning something new. This won’t just mean taking endless courses – but making good use of informal learning opportunities.As we saw earlier reading is the most frequent learning activity and is therefore one of the easiest ways to learn on daily basis – as is watching videos and listening podcasts. Another option might be to spend longer periods of time over a longer period to achieve a professional goal using more traditional self-development approaches.

Of course this means MANAGERS need to recognise the value and benefits of continuous self-learning and ideally provide some time for self-learning. It will also be important for managers to foster learnability. Learnability (or learning agility) is the capacity to keep learning and developing new skills and expertise, even if they are not obviously linked to one’s current job. Learnability (or learning agility) is one of the key skills of the employee economy.

But it will also be important for MANAGERS to lead the way This will mean showing their people how they are continuously learning for themselves but, more importantly what they are achieving because of this. And the same goes for L&D too – they will need to be role models for this new way of learning – it’s not about do as I say but do as I do.

L&D might support this in a number of ways, e.g. by curating a range of learning opportunities of relevance to their people or  by exposing individuals to the myriad opportunities open to them on the Web  that they might not otherwise have been aware of, as well as help them acquire digital skills so they get the most out of their use of their Web. They can also provide a valuable role coordinating opportunities to share professional achievements across the organisation – so that individuals feel their achievements are valued.

L&D’s new role, therefore is about helping the organisation adopt a new mindset, culture and approach to workplace learning – and supporting managers and their team as they do so.

The 3 Guides: A Guide for Individuals, A Guide for Managers and a A Guide for L&D provide more guidance for everyone on their new roles in the modern workplace. You can purchase the Guides here.

Last updated: October 28, 2022 at 17:33 pm