In the last couple of years, I found myself signing up for training – both internally and externally – only to be disappointed with the content or outcome of the programme.
In one of the training sessions I attended early this year, I felt like the only thing I walked away with was one conclusion – all that I seek to learn and grow in, are available online. This got me thinking – are there more avenues to learning and development?
Self-directed learning and growth
Individuals with a growth mind-set constantly find ways to improve themselves. It’s very intrinsic focused and they make learning or knowledge acquisition part of their daily lives. This can be in the form of watching documentaries, following news, forums and discussions and even educating themselves on a particular subject matter through talks or YouTube videos.
When I started my Masters journey two years back, I realised how little I knew, and how small my worldview really was. That forced me to seek information to stay ahead of things. I used to spend hours reading up on how CEOs failed and then succeeded, and how brands created flavours for something consumers never thought they wanted. From this, I was able to connect basic theories to global issues that were happening.
I believe it was because I had a self-directed approach to learning; that I seek the information I needed.
How many employees are actually given the freedom and empowerment to pave their own learning and development journey? Do managers sit down with employees and talk to them about where they want to be, how they want to contribute to the organisation and help them get there? Because these conversations alone can motivate them to be more engaged in their roles.
Empowering employees and giving them the freedom to decide what they need to learn to upskill will enable them to feel like they are investing in themselves and the organisation trusts them with simple decisions such as this.
In fact, I believe it enables them to see how they fit within an organisation and propel their thoughts to career progression and loyalty. It is a simple act that gives them complete autonomy towards their life and career path.
What is the right platform to learn?
Physical training sessions are still a primary preference these days. You get to engage with a subject matter expert, have dialogues with the trainer and experience active participation in the form of discussions with other participants, share contacts and network with others.
Likewise, online training is also becoming more popular because employees can do it at their own time and pace. With visuals, aesthetics and many interlinked references, learning becomes vast and easy for users. HR departments are beginning to recognise these channels of training and capture them in the total number of training hours an employee accumulates within a year.
But is that the only form of learning recognisable?
Self-directed learning as mentioned above is usually not captured. In fact a culture where employees spend 20% of their day doing things they want to do that could lead to idea generation, innovation and creativity is not captured or recognised as progress that an employee has made.
The best learning method for adult learners is blended learning and they are able to retain more information and immediately apply what they have learnt. So, by combining physical, online, self-directed and applied learning, an employee should be able to learn and grow more effectively than just using one form of training. They will learn to connect the dots more easily and apply what they have learnt into their role. This means that any extra research, learning and development that directly contributes to an employee’s progress should be captured, recognised and commended.
Creating a culture of continuous learning and development
The thing about learning while you’re still at your workstation is that you can get interrupted. In fact, investing in spaces that enable learning, ideation, innovation and brainstorming would help employees in finding solutions to challenges they face in their work or role. It also allows for people who are interested on debating ideas and sharing knowledge to come together and work towards something.
Another approach will be to form working committees from different departments to come together to brainstorm and find a solution to a problem or remove barriers from the workplace. This is a form of applied learning. Having people from different expertise, diverse backgrounds and experiences would create a diverse team that could look at solutions from all aspects. In fact, when a team engages in knowledge sharing, openly debate, discuss and create new ideas, they eliminate group think and find better solutions to problems.
Lastly, always recognise and reward those who have stepped up, showed progress and gone the extra mile. Simple gestures like these go a long way when an employee feels appreciated and motivated. All of these enable employees to feel like they are in charge, empowered and have the freedom to steer their way towards their chosen career path. They will be more engaged because they can feel themselves contributing and making a difference which all go back to their own purpose and values.