Educators may define learning as the acquisition of skills or knowledge from experience or being taught. At the workplace, learning and development contribute to the longevity of a person’s career through a combination of personal growth and professional advancement. However, at times, workplace demands and long work hours may act as speed bumps to learning opportunities.
The good news is that there are multiple strategies to improve learning and development at the workplace through optimising engagement, attention, and the rate of retention. Continuous (or lifelong) learning keeps employees engaged in their positions and may strengthen their loyalty to a brand or company.
Coaching and Mentoring Opportunities
There is much to learn from a mentor figure who genuinely dedicates their time and effort in grooming the mentee. A dedicated mentor does not care for recognition or incentives – the success and development of the learner is a reward in itself. Bill Gates learned from Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs to thank for a great deal of his success.
The best coaches and mentors should come from a similar background to the learner. These individuals can provide the most relevant information and tips according to the modern market or industry. While it is tempting to learn from a mentor with decades of flavourful experience, learners also desire practical information that benefits them.
Mentors and coaches at the workplace can provide practical solutions in a personalised approach. A learner is more inclined to follow a set of guidelines proven to work, with real-life success, compared to examples in a textbook or manual. Perhaps the most inspiring detail about coaching and mentoring is that they were once in the learner’s position.
While empathy is a pillar in academic teaching, it should also serve as an integral component in corporate training. According to professional educators and psychologists, the value of empathy comes from non-judgment and clear communication empowered by perspectives. Empathetic mentors/coaches put learners at ease, informing them that they understand their challenges, and they are there to guide them through the most problematic parts.
Recognition goes a long way – it serves as an empowering mode of positive reinforcement. In fact, recognition may serve as a more significant stimulus in the long-term than monetary benefits like bonuses and allowances. Constant employee recognition also contributes to a healthy workplace culture, which supports employee engagement.
Learning and development courses that confer recognition to attendees may provide employees with improved enthusiasm and interest in fulfilling learning objectives. For added results, employers should also consider the recognition of the learning outcomes of workers. An article from the Harvard Business Review shares that employees are more likely to stay motivated via rewards (like recognition) than negative reinforcement – such as providing constant reminders about the need for increased productivity.
On a larger scale, recognition supports the concept of social proof. The psychological term refers to an environment where individuals stay motivated and inspired by the workplace’s norms – where employees get encouraged for learning, development, and performance.
Apply Blended Learning
Training and development take on many forms, and one-dimensional teaching/instructional styles may prove ineffective. Blended learning provides employees with various methods to hone a skill or knowledge – through synchronous and asynchronous content. For example, employees may watch a real-time webinar on customer service excellence before completing a quiz at their convenience.
More importantly, learning should involve various mediums and approaches, including visual, verbal, and kinesthetic methods for optimal results. In the modern context, blended learning refers to the fusion of traditional classroom learning with e-learning opportunities. The combination promotes dynamic and convenient learning journeys that deliver information rapidly while benefiting from immediate feedback.
Clearly Outlined Learning Paths
Course coordinators should inform attendees about their course objectives from the beginning. By highlighting learner expectations, attendees can improve goal-setting plans and stay committed to their lessons.
Additionally, course coordinators and organisational leaders should customise course structures according to each attendee’s respective roles. Alternatively, coordinators may consider a strengths-based approach to training that optimizes learning outcomes. There is no one-size-fits-all course, and individual attendees should have access to a learning pathway based on their specific needs and experiences.
Trainers should be careful not to reinvent the wheel with participants, causing a profound loss of interest in the topic. As a clear example, there is no need to involve the IT security team in an introductory cyber hygiene course catered for the organisation. Well-outlined learning paths should include a measurable assessment, which provides organisations with reliable information to show that a course adds value to worker performance.
Some practical ways to achieve this include collating customer surveys, on-the-job observations, and test scores from post-lesson quizzes. Essentially, a strategic course structure gives employees/attendees a sense of purpose – which carries great significance in the modern workplace.
An overarching sense of purpose at the workplace goes beyond training and development domains. Research from management consulting company BCG (Boston Consulting Group) revealed that a deeply ingrained purpose correlates strongly with a ten-year total shareholder return.
Asking Employees About their Needs
The simplest yet most effective way of optimising learning outcomes is by directly speaking with employees and learning about their perspectives. Leaders may conduct casual meetings where attendees get the opportunity to voice their concerns and long-term goals. Every employee has a unique set of achievements and purpose within the organisation, and an open conversation can lead learners and trainers to improved collaborations.
Gartner compiled a list of employee engagement questions that can set organisational leaders on the right track. General questions such as “do you have the appropriate amount of information to make correct decisions about your work?” can help pave the way for in-depth follow-up queries that shape personalised learning structures.
While a workplace contains many complexities that affect learning and development outcomes, trainers and leaders can significantly improve employee response with a flexible and personalised (strength-based) course structure that ultimately advances personal and organisational goals.
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