Classroom training and E-Learning are the least valued ways of learning. This is what it means for L&D

Although entries are still being accepted for the 7th Learning in the Workplace survey, here is a screenshot of the results as at 21 May (from 5.5K+ responses). The table ranks the importance (value/usefulness) of the 12 different ways of learning in the workplace for INDIVIDUALS by their combined Very Important + Essential scores. The red figures highlight where the most responses were received in each category.

What do these results mean for L&D? I think they mean THREE key things.

FIRSTLY, it means that most of L&D’s efforts are actually focused on activities (Classroom training and E-Learning) that individuals find of relatively little value.

When I show these results to groups of L&D people, their reaction is to say “we need to do better; we need to create more appealing and more engaging training”. My answer to that is, that isn’t what the results are telling me! In my experience people don’t want prettier or more interactive courses they want more relevant solutions to their problems. And the best way to do that is to work with them using a performance improvement consulting approach to collaboratively identify the best solution – which might not even be training in any shape or form. But if some form of training is considered the best solution, it will then be important to be able to advise them on possible modern training approaches so that they can can decide what will be the right format for THEM. That’s the way they will successfully engage; when they have been part of the process and not just had some (e-)training forced upon them.

SECONDLY, the results show that is time for L&D to re-focus their efforts onto the activities that do bring value to their people.

Daily work experiences (ie doing the day job) and Knowledge sharing within your team top the list, with Manager feedback and guidance not far below. This is where individuals value their learning – when it is an fundamental and continuous part of daily work – not a separate training activity.

So, the new role of L&D will be to become a trusted advisor to the business and support learning from the daily work. This will involve working closely with managers to help them grow and develop their teams, as well as with individuals to get the most out of their daily work experiences. There is also important work to be done in helping to establish a strong knowledge sharing culture in teams, groups and across the organisation – since this is where the real social learning takes place. But this new work won’t mean organising and managing learning in the old, traditional, formal ways –  but rather working with managers and teams in the ways that best suit them.

THIRDLY, the most valued ways of learning also include Web search, Web resources and Professional Networks and Communities. Many in L&D have used the fact that the key features of these activities are that they are short, visual, flexible and social to create new types of online content and training.

However, the most significant feature that has been overlooked is that they are self-selected and self-organised activities – by the individuals concerned. Whilst some might still believe that workplace learning is something that needs to be organised and managed by L&D, it is just as important to focus on helping individuals become more self-reliant and self-sufficient individuals who learn from a wide variety of sources: content, people, events and experiences – both inside and outside their organisation – and who can “bring the outside in” so their organizations can learn from them and grow and thrive.

The other significant feature of these activities is that individuals are learning from them continuously. It is very clear nowadays that it is up to everyone to become a lifelong learner and keep up to date with what’s happening in their industry or profession to remain employable. But, today, it is also incumbent upon L&D departments to provide continuous learning and development opportunities for their people. That doesn’t just mean providing continuous training, but creating, curating – and indeed coordinating – a wide range of learning resources and activities.

In summary then, what the results of the survey clearly show that is that it is time for a new model of workplace learning – a Framework of Continuous Improvement, Learning & Development.

DEMOGRAPHICS

65 Countries of which 26% from USA, 24% from UK, 21% from other European countries, 9% from Australia, 6% Canada, 5% New Zealand
Industry: 24% Education, 11% Government, 10% Financial Services, 6% Manufacturing, 6% Health, 6% Technology, 4% Retail, 2% Telecomms, 1% Military, 1% Transport, 28% Other
Organisation size: 67% 250+, 14% <10, 11% 51-250, 8% 10-50
Function: 64% HR/LD, 6% Sales & Marketing, 4% IT, 1% Finance, 25% Other
Job type: 41% Non-Managerial,21% Senior managers,15% Middle managers, 13% Line managers, 9% non-salaried/freelance.
Age: 35% 40-49,26% 50-59, 23% 30-39,9% 60+, 7% under 30
Sex: 60% Female, 39% Male, 1% Other

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Jane Hart

Jane Hart helps organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops and bespoke consultancy. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including Modern Workplace Learning 2018 as well as the resource for individuals How to become a Modern Professional Learner. Jane was the 2018 recipient of the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development award. You can contact Jane at Jane.Hart@C4LPT.co.uk.