MWL 2022: L&D’s role

This is a page of the first FREE section of MWL 2022. You can purchase access to the full resource HERE

<< INTRODUCTION TO MODERN WORKPLACE LEARNING


L&D’s new role essentially means helping the organisation adopt a new mindset, culture and approach to workplace learning in 4 key ways, which are highlighted below – NOT just through training or other formal interventions (out of the flow of work) BUT more significantly by much simpler activities (that involve supporting managers and individuals) in the flow of work.

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, both workers and 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, organisations will need to foster modern workers.  They will need to become more self-sufficient and self-reliant. This includes trying to solve their own performance problems, and manage 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 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, but  L&D have a role to play here. Reflective practice is  a learned process, so one approach might be to help  set up a work journal (perhaps using a digital notebook) to record their reflections –  not just from the daily work, but from interactions with others, or even to record the gems they have encountered in their discoveries. These journals might even morph into a personal portfolio which are a more appropriate way for individuals to evidence their own achievements (rather than just their learning) and are also highly portable.

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. With regard to tools, it will be important to develop an integrated ecosystem of platforms and tools that can be used for working and learning.

SOCIAL & COLLABORATIVE LEARNING AT WORK

Individuals should ask 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. Knowledge sharing takes advantage of an organisation’s most valuable asset – the collective expertise of its employees and partners

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.

So there is a great opportunity for L&D to work with managers and their teams to help them get more out of their enterprise collaboration platforms and support effective knowledge sharing.  In a similar way L&D can support Communities of Practice.

Team or group learning can also be facilitated through semi-structured guided social learning experiences that focus more on sharing of experiences than delivering content. Coordinating informal social learning events like lunch & learns or book clubs) – whether in person or virtual – can also help with cross-organisational knowledge sharing.

SELF-LEARNING & SELF-DEVELOPMENT

It’s time for individuals to take responsibility for their own self-development. In fact empowering individuals to make decisions about their own professional goals – aligned with business goals – and how they can address them themselves brings substantial benefits to both sides. This won’t just mean taking endless courses – but making good use of informal learning opportunities.

One way to do this is to encourage a daily learning habit –  so that individuals spend say 20-30 minutes do something for themselves. 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 – and is the key to establishing a continuous learning culture.

But it also means helping them to understand the wider range of self-development options open to them – which might take longer than 20-30 minutes a day

Of course this means managers need to recognise the value and benefits of continuous self-learning and ideally provide some time for self-learning. In which case some managers prefer to adopt a more formal process of self-development so that time spent on self-development is recorded and accounted for.

L&D might support this in a number of ways, e.g. by curating a range of learning opportunities of relevance to their people. This might be introducing a formal learning platform – but might also be find other Web-based content, or  by exposing individuals to the myriad opportunities open to them on the Web  that they might not otherwise have been aware of.  But one significant part of L&D’s role will be help them to develop their digital skills so they get the most out of their use of their Web. New skills like effective searching, curation, dealing with information overload, as well as “joining the dots” between the many pieces of content they will discover to see patterns and learn from them.

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. One of the ways for a manager to do this, is to ensure learning is centre-stage. So this might mean that, in every meeting or in one-on-one conversation, they make a point of asking: “What have you learned today?”

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.

MODERN TRAINING PRACTICES

Finally, when it comes to company training, it will be important to ensure that it is in line with other modern learning activities. We have seen how training is the least valued way of learning at work so it will be important to ensure that it is time well spent. Nevertheless it will first be important to ensure that it is an effective and appropriate solution for the people concerned.

Designing effective training means first ensuring that there is no better other solution available. Also it will be important that individuals are prepared for the experience – so that they can get the most out of it. It is  of course a  key role of the manager to support training transfer to ensure that there is full benefit from that training.

When it comes to designing modern training, this means recognising the key trends

  • a shift from (large-scale) e-courses to (shorter, flexible) resources in a relevant format (text, video, audio) 
  • a shift from (large-scale) e-courses to micro-learning (short pieces of content delivered over time)
  • a shift from knowing to doing by creating work-based activities
  • a shift  (long) classroom events to (shorter) virtual or hybrid events 
  • a shift from e-courses to social learning experiences, so that people can learn from one another, guided by a knowledgeable facilitator 
  • a shift from the creation (of new content, events, etc) to the curation and re-purposing (of readily available contents and events)
  • Additionally, it means employing immersive technologies (like augmented, virtual or mixed realities) wherever appropriate and where it is cost-effective to do so.

Modern blended learning programmes also make good use of many of these new training approaches.

Finally, the creation of a digital learning hub (ideally hosted on an enterprise platform) will mean that L&D teams can aggregate all their created and curated initiatives in one easily accessible place to support all the 4 ways of learning in the modern workplace.


You can find out much more about these aspects of modern workplace learning in the following sections of this MWL 2022 resource.


Last updated: March 14, 2022 at 13:00 pm