The ultimate goal of learning and professional development is to instill the habit of being a “life-long learner” or continuous training. Do we mean that you need to have your nose in a book or your fingers on a screen 24/7? Not at all!
Life-long learning implies to the cyclic update, reflection, social interchange and again update of knowledge. While some of us unconsciously hunt for new knowledge and revel in “cognitive growth”, most of us need a bit more guidance in terms of achieving learning mindfulness.
Does it seem like a lot of work? It actually isn’t. All you need to do is to align yourself with your learning needs and organize your time for learning.
The adult learner is wired to learn independently, by default. Don’t worry, after reading this article, you will not only improve as a learner, but also consciously develop stronger learning habits.
Extant research is rife with findings which indicate that learning and innovation are the only elements for organizational growth. If you are not seeing any performance growth in your employees, you can safely conclude that they need training.
Sometimes, learning is not needed in the form of training at all! Sometimes all you need is to have employees talk to each other about their performance experiences.
Sharing concerns, pitfalls and milestones and even solving a tricky problem at a task can be a great learning tool! And where can your employees hold this productive talk?
Two locations: a casual meeting room or employee lounge, where employees are not compelled to think and act formally and second, your learning management system, through its collaborative elements.
The environment of the physical place should be similar to coffee time or break time. Let them vent out without any inhibitions! You never know how one thing may lead to another and they might end up offering private training sessions.
As an employer, provide such volunteers and experts with all the resources they need for these informal training sessions. And don’t forget to offer recognition and praise for their contributions!
The second place, as mentioned above is your organization’s learning management system, where you can hold a formal training. As a mentor for training, your primary task would be to post meaningful discussion topics under relevant training.
A mistake most managers do after posting an excellent question, is let the discussion taper off. You need to direct wayward conversations in the direct direction. And when enough has been said about the topic, summarize all key points.
Ask all participants if you missed anything. Watch another set of comments march past the page!
So what exactly have you established through this exercise? You have developed a sense of contribution and responsibility to implement ideas and suggestions among all participants of this discussion. When you see healthy input of valuable experience from experts, you know that you have established a community of practice.
This is your ultimate goal. Create a fear-free and happy conversation environment, both online and offline. Be consistent with these practices and watch how your company evolves into a learning organization.
Congratulations, this means you have created continuous learners!
Study this simple three-part model for acquiring continuous learning habits. Remember, in order to be successful, you need to learn more each day. Think about it this way, the more you learn, the more you are flexible towards changes in the unknown situation or future.
As your organization’s leader, teach these three skills to your employees to develop a learning organization!
Follow these tips to boost your learning habits and ultimately your performance at work:
Be your Best at your Work
No matter what your job is about, try to be the best at what you do. Be an expert. Have people asking you questions or consult with you.
Be clear on your job expectations. Regularly ask for feedback from peers and how you can improve. Get clear on what your expectations are on your current job.
Regularly ask for feedback and ways on how you can improve. If you are the best in your job, people will look up to you and will also ask you for directions on learning and other tips.
Become a Leader
Being the best sometimes also means leading through inspiration. Your peers know how much you value your time. They will begin respecting your time, by listening to you carefully and taking notes (at least mental notes!) of what you say.
Leadership is not reserved for managers and bosses only. Anyone who has knowledge and knows how to demonstrate it in order to motivate aspiring individuals, is a leader! Set aside one day a week in which you talk about leadership qualities with your employees.
A great activity is to play games with team members to develop these skills. Another way is to assign mandatory leadership related eLearning. Suggest a valuable leadership book to your employees by Harry S. Truman, in which he says “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
Keep Skills Fresh
Many soft skills like flow charting, diagramming, labeling, worksheets and documentation require updates.
eLearning training for these is not recommended as they simply involve reinventing the wheel. Not only they are expensive in the long-run, they fail to measure the impact on performance.
For such skills, create a wiki for the online training which is offered for free by the vendors. Not only are they up to date, but they are also free and self-paced. The tutorials offered online are short and can be viewed by multiple people, multiple times.
YouTube videos also offer a great learning tool when dealing with “learning by doing” activities.
Being a continuous learner requires you to develop daily learning habits and an inquisitive attitude. Adopting the above three tips will help you get started and move in the right direction.
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