Although journals have been talking about training and development from a psychological perspective, it was first implemented during World War II as part of military training. Soon, by the 1960s and 70s, departments invested time and money in researching training and development. Around the 1980s, many training programs began as part of organizational development and in the 90s, we began to hear terms like “lifelong learning” and cross-cultural training.
Companies offer learning opportunities to help their employees grow more skilful and contribute better to the overall success of the company. According to Oracle, a “learning culture” is “a set of organizational values, conventions, processes, and practices that encourage individuals — and the organization as a whole — to increase knowledge, competence, and performance.”
The right kind of learning culture in an enterprise can have some fantastic results, Oracle reports. These companies experience 37% greater employee productivity making them 32% more likely to be first to market. Possessing a 26% greater ability to create better quality products, these companies also have a 34% better response to customer needs and remain 58% more likely to have skills to meet future demand.
Today, in our instantaneous world, learning and development have much more opportunity to expand. However, we continue to see companies relying on “low tech” or “wrong tech” tools for L&D. “Low tech” defines using very basic materials like printed articles and Powerpoint presentations to impart learning. These are not only outdated but also have very low engagement rates, leaving no impact. Using old technology and not keeping up with modern enterprise and adult learning methodologies and innovations make tools “wrong tech.”
US businesses alone spent more than $60 billion a year on enterprise learning. And yet, a May 2016 report by McKinsey & Company claims that 40% of Chief Learning Officers believe their traditional corporate learning initiatives have been ineffective despite the investment being high.
What we need is for enterprises to prioritize transformational over transactional development and introduce interdisciplinary learning. This convergence can help build a skilled workforce. Since we know many issues hamper enterprise learning from becoming effective on a large scale, sometimes it is better for employees to initiate change.
What if each employee took responsibility for their own learning and triggered changes within themselves and the system?
We, at NewCampus, pursued this line of thought and came up with some interesting and simple-to-execute steps for employees to take charge of their own growth.
Read on to know more!
Identify your learning style and skill gaps
HBR and Degreed surveyed over 700 professionals to see how today’s employees approach learning. They discovered that “85% agree or strongly agree that they understand their current skill gaps, and 82% agree or strongly agree that they know just what skills they need for career advancement. They know they have skills gaps, and they want to bridge them.”
Understanding your shortcomings can be powerful. It can help you empower yourself in all the right ways. With many ways of learning available today — from elearning to podcasts, books to in-person classes– it might be confusing what to choose. So, if you identify what is the best way for you to learn, you can scale up methodically and quickly.
One way to get this done is to get your workforce HR professionals to evaluate employees. A good learning system is only as good as the data about employees, their preferred learning methodologies, their skill gaps, etc.
As employees, you can always request the L&D teams or workforce HR professionals to help you run a survey company-wide so people can get insights into their own learner profiles.
Self-discovery path for learning
There is nothing better than taking complete charge of your learning path so that you make sure that you are upskilling in the right direction.
“If you want to rise above the noise, you have to personalize [learning]. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting through two-hour learning that wasn’t relevant.”
– Bill Pelster, principal at Deloitte
This could mean signing up for a learning membership, joining a class, enrolling in a MOOC, etc.
Start a mentorship programme within the office
Who better to learn from than someone who has already walked the road?! Around 60% of millennials surveyed by Deloitte stated that they’d prefer to learn from a mentor. Salesforce found that 95% of leaders with mentors got promoted in 18 months. This is a clear sign that mentors are a very important part of growing in one’s career.
Find out whose career path is something you admire the most or identify a person who you’d most like to learn from. Approach them and request to spend one-on-one time to learn from them. Most people in the top of their careers love mentoring and would be happy to lend a helping hand.
Join/start a niche community with friends or within your organization
If there are existing groups fostering growth in your field, don’t hesitate to sign up for them.
These groups/clubs/communities could pick up some useful skills and make great connections in the industry. In the past years, we have seen many Lean In circles popping up across the world. For those interested in fine-tuning their speaking skills, there’s always a Toastmasters club round the corner. Even we, at NewCampus, have launched the Power Ladies Coffee Meets across Singapore and Mumbai, India, to gather 10–12 powerful women under one roof to talk about women in the workforce, agility, sabbaticals, design thinking, inclusivity and more.
If none exist, gather a group of like-minded people and start a community that meets every week, fortnight or month to discuss various topics. Community is a powerful thing and can not only help you grow into a more able employee but also help you hone your personality and other soft skills.
Research on future trends to stay relevant
As Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, notes, during the 4th Industrial Revolution, “Business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate”.
Unfortunately, this knowledge does not often translate into learning programs where which help these teams to stay relevant. So, while your L&D teams may be slow on the uptake, what you could do is to keep a tab on industry trends and the future of work and see how you can future-proof your career.
Push for better use of technology to upskill
Sometimes, the problem with enterprises may be a lack of awareness. As an employee invested in your own improvement and that of your employer, you could push for a technological update. Request your L&D teams to find more up-to-date learning solutions driven by technology. Many scholars are pushing for bite-sized learning spread across every day to help educate oneself. So, if you can learn on your mobile phone, you could even do your reading/learning on the move.
Get L&D teams to align learning with their business priorities
Millennials who form the largest chunk of the workforce will account for ¾ of the global workforce by 2025. And they are looking for “an experience” and not a career, as this study from Deloitte points out. A Harvard Business Review study shows that “70% of companies that align L&D with their business priorities have more success in boosting company revenues.”
So, urge your L&D teams to plan learning modules that hit the sweet spot of giving you a way to upgrade while also aligning to business goals.
Sometimes all your organization needs is a push from your end. As learning enthusiasts eager to stay relevant in the unknown future, it is also your responsibility to direct the course of training and developmental programs in your enterprise.
And like Mahatma Gandhi said, you should “be the change you want to see in the world.”