As business leaders look to the “next normal” post-pandemic — amid greater digitization and accelerated roll-out of advanced technologies that change the nature of work — they must push for learning to evolve. Instead of occurring in short, infrequent bursts, learning should become an integral part of daily work.
Gone are the days when learning occurred as a separate, dedicated activity such as a seminar or offsite training. In the next normal, employees must “learn in the flow of work” — in real time and especially from the problems they are trying to solve. As Deloitte observed, “The inherent connection between learning and work can become even more meaningful as companies embrace continuous development to keep up with individual and organizational demands for greater learning opportunities.” The result is a more effective way for people to upskill and reskill on an ongoing basis.
Unfortunately, this approach is rarely found among companies today. They often fail to take something that is highly relevant to their strategy — for example, a new product rollout — and use it as an opportunity for employees to learn and practice. As a result, there may very well be gaps in employees’ knowledge about a particular product or customer solution.
Here are five ways business leaders can create closer alignment between working and learning:
1. Learn from what you are doing. When learning happens in the flow of work, people no longer perceive a divide between working and learning; the two are integrated, seamlessly and transparently. This is far better than making learning intrusive with activities that “pop up” during a project or collaboration. (The analogy I use is Microsoft’s MSFT -0.2% “Clippy” paperclip icon, which was meant to engage users with software tips, but often annoyed them instead.) The focus is not just the technical skills of what must get done in the moment. Learning expands to encompass a wide variety of skills — in particular, critical thinking — to build a bigger, broader toolkit for the future.
MORE FOR YOU
The Distributed Workforce: A Q&A With Zoom’s Global CIO
Cannabis Challenges Differ In Each State Where It’s Newly-Legal
Why This ‘.Sucks’ As A Trademark
2. Establish a closed learning loop. Business leaders cannot assume that learning will happen “by osmosis” as people work together. It must be intentional. One way to help ensure learning happens is by establishing closed-loop feedback among employees, their managers, and peers. There’s no need to complicate the process; it can be as simple as asking others for feedback on a project or presentation. The last few minutes of a team videoconference or call can be dedicated to giving and receiving feedback. When a feedback loop exists, people hear what they’re doing well and where they can improve.
3. Embrace continuous improvement. In the words of the late Dr. Stephen Covey, “We must never become too busy sawing to take time to sharpen the saw.” Indeed, no matter how time pressed we feel, we cannot focus on what we’re doing to the exclusion of where and how we can improve. Thanks to the feedback loop, people understand what they need to do differently and where they should devote more of their attention. Then, they can engage in “deliberate practice” — a method often used by the absolute top performers — which leads to greater competence and mastery.
4. Encourage learning agility. Given the accelerating pace of change ahead, people will need to adapt and evolve. This will span everything from how collaboration happens with colleagues to how customers are served, particularly in a digital environment. As Korn Ferry KFY -1.8%, a talent and organization consulting firm, wrote: “While the linear approach to conducting business made sense in predictable market conditions, it is ill-adapted to ongoing change…” Those who possess learning agility tend to be adept at analyzing and addressing new challenges and problems.
5. Place a priority on curiosity. When people focus only on what’s right in front of them, they cannot see the world around them. They do not avail themselves of curiosity, which is so important. As Stefaan van Hooydonk, founder of the Global Curiosity Institute (and former chief learning officer of Cognizant CTSH -2.1%), wrote: “Curiosity is the engine that has shaped history for humankind… While curiosity is often associated with children as their natural way to explore and make sense of the world, curiosity is also the driver for success for adults and is the gel that creates positive connections between people.” A curious mind is open to learning.
Changing Attitudes and Mindset
For these five ways of improving corporate learning to take root, there needs to be a widespread shift in attitude. The fact is corporate learning is shockingly different from the rest of the education system. From K-12 through college, the primary objective is learning — it consumes most of the learner’s time. Then comes the transition to the workforce and learning greatly diminishes in importance and time commitment. Sadly, it is sometimes barely thought of at all.
Faced with massive change and feeling overwhelmed, people may view learning as one more thing they have to do when so much is being asked of them. In our company, when I suggested that people devote as little as a half hour or one hour a week to learning, three people actually quit! They felt it was too much to ask of them when they were already so busy.
In my view, when people complain that they don’t have enough time to read and learn, they should really ask themselves: “Can I afford not to make time?” Personally, I devote 8 to 14 hours a week to reading or listening to podcasts and audiobooks. This winter, while out snowshoeing with my dogs, I listened to many great lectures and books and revisited the Ted Talks by the late Sir Ken Robinson (among his most notable, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”).
The real culprit, though, may be an attitude left over from the days of training that occurred outside of work. Too often such required training was perceived to be of little or no value — a complete waste of time. The statistics around corporate learning back this up. A Harvard Business Review article observed that, despite $359 billion spent globally each year on training, “not only is the majority of training in today’s companies ineffective, but the purpose, timing, and content of training is flawed.”
The answer is reinventing learning in corporate life, to better equip people to build their knowledge and skills in the flow of work.
Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/ulrikjuulchristensen/2021/02/18/5-ways-to-align-work-and-learning-post-pandemic/?sh=27c3b75f771e