Sunday, April 20, 2008
Manish Mohan is helping to create a Working/Learning blog carnival. I think it was originally created by Dave at Dave's Whiteboard and then Manish agreed to host the April edition. You can read about the definition and thought behind a blog carnival at Dave's blog.
So, here are my thoughts on "Work at Learning, Learning at Work"
There is a mistake that most people make. They think learning should be easy, simple and straightforward. In my experience, it is anything but...
To truly learn something one must exert effort, work up a mental sweat and slog through information and data and try again and again until the information is learned. Think back to learning the multiplication tables or even the alphabet or a new language.
A work hard and try-try-again approach is the exact opposite of how learning is done in most corporations. Most often, the employee is sent to a one or two day session and then expected, at the end of that session, to know everything they need to know with no additional training required. Even a few weeks later if the employee has a question the boss will say "didn't you just go to training for that?" There seems to be a perception at work that learning only takes a one time exposure to the topic.
This is simply not the case. Learning is a process. Learning at work requires an effort, a mental sweat and time for reflection. Does that happen in most workplace educational events...not in my experience. Even e-learning is a one and done.
In fact e-learning is seen as task that the learner/employee should attempt to speed through as quickly as possible. I once evaluated a web-based compliance training course at a financial-related company. The reason for the evaluation was because an employee had done something wrong and caused a federal investigation into the non-compliant event. I investigated the effectiveness of the training course and found the average amount of time employees spent in the e-learning course was 12 minutes. So once a year, for 12 minutes the employees received information on what not to do and it was expected that those 12 minutes would be enough to ensure compliance. Obviously, it wasn't.
Learning at work requires work to learn. Becoming an expert or seasoned employee or even a contributing employee requires work to learn new technologies, new regulations. It requires work to learn about the application of information to new problems. It takes work to learn how to stay up on new concepts and ideas in the field. It takes work to learn to be a manager, supervisor or any other leader of people.
Employees need to work at learning and companies need to allow employees to learn at work. In the long run, it benefits everyone.
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