In one of our recent webinars on blended learning, some of the discussion was about whether learners actually know how to learn.
To move towards a ‘pull’ learning culture, you'll need learners with the will and ability to identify, access and apply learning.
What many find, when they first try to move away from ‘push’ learning, is that their people have lost these abilities. They no longer know how to take responsibility for their development.
It might sound strange, but you may need to teach your learners a few key skills before you can build your perfect learning culture.
1. Identify learning needs
You're going to need to equip your people with the skillset for effective performance conversations, so that instead of letting managers tell them what and when to learn, they can evaluate and assess their own performance and needs.
If you’ve been pushing learning out to them for a long time, their self-reflection and self-awareness facilities may have atrophied.
In some teams, there is an accepted appraisal method of ‘meeting up and going through the motions’. The manager may ask some of the right questions, but ultimately it can be a passive conversation—resulting in picking a ready-engineered ‘solution’ without really considering why and how it benefits the learner.
After a few rounds of this, learners lose any sense they had for finding ways to improve.
Help them regain control by:
Encouraging use of support materials to appraise and measure performance, for example, by using this time log.
Getting managers to support their teams with regular, effective one-to-one meetings, group discussion, and championing personal development.
Teaching your people how to become more self-aware and critique their own performance—do they know how they stack up against the role’s competency framework?
2. Know where to find it
L&D and managers must work together to 'create a buzz'. Build the conversation about L&D, share success stories, and generally market your offer—make sure people know where to access the learning they need.
Depending on your organisation's culture, a rewards system for time spent on learning and professional development could also be an incentive.
Even better would be to publicise the results. Encourage learners to share success stories—how applying the learning made them feel, the difference it made to them and their jobs. Helping them express this could be a great asset for engagement!
- Build social sharability into the learning—it's no good asking your people to share learning if this is clunky or doesn't work!
- Employ email notifications or internal social networks, i.e. Yammer, to push out the L&D message.
- Clearly communicate what’s available—adopt a marketing mindset in order to gain enthusiasm.
3. Do something about it
It's easier to identify a need than it is to act on it. Learners must make time for and prioritise learning. When we are very busy, it is often easier to just muddle through than to take time out and do something about it.
However, if learners feel empoweredto improve, they will be able to seize the opportunity, to be brave and to follow through.
They can feel like taking time out to learn might come at the expense of their day-to-day work. Give learners permission to learn, as well as to set their own priorities.
A few key ways you can encourage them to buy in:
- Make it easy for them to sign up to learning, by having a clear process that is easily accessible.
- Give them options—not everything needs to be solved with a ‘course’.
- Make it seamless. Remove all points of friction. Make sure digital learning can be accessed across different platforms, and at the learner’s convenience. Don’t give them any excuse to give up!
4. Apply what they've learned
If you’ve made sure that learners know where to find the learning, what’s available and how to get at it, and are motivated, all that remains is to help them apply what they’ve learned.
- Drip-feed a "stream of learning-related interactions" to refresh knowledge and keep learning at the front of mind.
- Share performance support materials—after completing a management development programme, for example, learners might find tools to help them manage their people useful.
- Provide opportunities to try things out—offer job-related experiences to implement what they’ve learned.
- Build managers’ skills in getting the best from their people, so they know how to support them in the application of the learning.
Towards Maturity’s 2016-7 benchmark report notes that over three quarters (76%) of “process improvement achievers” take time to analyse the business problem before recommending a solution.
"The critical starting point,” the report says, “is asking the right questions to help understand the requirements of a programme."
If you have been struggling to move to 'pull' and have been systematically addressing every symptom that crops up, now might be the time to consider if you need to start at the beginning instead.
It could be your learners' ability to learn that is holding you back—not your solutions.
What else makes great blended learning today? To learn more about the mindset and tactics for blended learning success, listen back to our 'Developing a Blended Learning Mindset' webinar.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.
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