It’s natural for us in L&D to spend our energy thinking of new and innovative ways we can support the development of our learners and our business – after all, helping people become their best selves is a major draw of the profession.
For my next two blogs, I am going to switch things up a little. Instead of focusing on ways you can support your business and your learner, I am going to focus on the ways your learners can support you.
It may go against our usual nature, but don’t worry, there is small ulterior motive that ensures we are still supporting our people – whilst having the support of your learners can lead to your role becoming more effective (and perhaps more enjoyable) it’s also a form of self-service.
By supporting you, your learner will gain just as much for their own personal and professional development, which in turn will create a higher level of performance for your business. In fact, by gaining the support of your learners, you will be on your way to creating an invaluable cycle of support within your organisation.
There are many ways a learner can support you and in this blog, I will be focusing on how taking ownership of their own learning can have a huge impact, from identifying skills gaps to paving the way for a successful learning transfer.
Take responsibility for their own learning – Me plc
Learners who take responsibility for their own learning are more likely to actively seek out learning solutions which can help them perform in their role more effectively. They are also likely to develop a stronger commitment to applying the learning to their day-to-day work.
So how can you help your learners take responsibility for their own learning?
This is where personal branding comes in – Me plc. Me plc is all about career ownership and thinking about how we can brand ourselves and sell our skills, experiences and personalities to future employers. If your learners start to think about their own personal brand, they are more likely to take responsibility for their career development and will begin to think about gaps in their skills set. Once your learners are onboard with Me plc, you could encourage them to consider the following key areas which will help them develop their career and identify soft skills gaps at the same time:
- Subject Matter Expertise (SME) – what is your SME?
- Leadership and Management – what are your capabilities?
- Business Basics – do you have the core skills you need to succeed? (E.g. time management)
- Resilience – how do you cope when things get difficult?
A simple and effective way your learners can support you is by developing their self-awareness. This can help your learners identify their strengths and weaknesses, so they can alert you to any skills gaps affecting their work. Equally important, is gaining a better understanding of their own learning processes – this can improve the transfer of learning in the workplace, as they start to identify how they learn and retain information. Sharon Merriman (University of Georgia, Athens) highlights some of the characteristics of a self-aware adult learner which really helped me to understand how important self-awareness is in the learning process. A self-aware adult learner:
- Can direct their own learning
- Has accumulated a reservoir of life experiences that can be a resource
- Has learning needs closely related to changing social roles
- Is problem-centered and interested in immediate application of knowledge, and
- Is internally motivated to learn, rather than externally
There are several ways you can encourage a culture of self-awareness for your learners and having an open dialogue might be the best place to start, even if it’s simply discussing the benefits self-awareness can have for their personal and professional development.
A few practical tips could include suggesting a process for self-reflection and perhaps looking into ways your learner can measure progress from keeping a journal to recording goals, plans and priorities.
By developing self-awareness and by taking career ownership, your learners will be on their way to taking responsibility for their own learning. This can help you to identify skills gaps more efficiently and can have a significant impact on the successful transfer of learning in your organisation. If you want to find out more about how to close soft skills gaps, I recommend taking a look at our recent webinar recording which shares more tips and approaches.
In my next blog, I focus on how your learners can support you in tackling low learner engagement in your organisation, so stay tuned!
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.