Time is increasingly precious and with so many demands and distractions placed on us, there are fewer opportunities to participate in formal learning which doesn’t directly solve specific problems. The days of week-long training programmes and mass one-size-fits-all workshops are rapidly disappearing as organisations begin to embrace the age of the self-directed learner. Classroom learning is still very popular – particularly for behaviourally based development, but reliance on these instructor-led methods often impacts on operational requirements and can be expensive.
According to industry analyst Josh Bersin, the average employee now has less than 25 minutes a week to devote to formal learning. This raises the question as to what can be done to make learning become more accessible and more relevant to the needs of the learner so that they can apply the information in a context which is relevant to them. In short, how do we put each employee at the centre of their own learning journey?
There is evidence of a clear trend towards moving away from the sporadic ‘sheep-dip’ style of training, to providing smaller, bite-sized learning solutions which are focused on delivering a defined learning outcome. Today’s employees are demanding a more continuous approach to professional growth - enabling them to develop at their own pace by accessing appropriate learning at the point of need, when they need it. Any development, therefore, needs to be personalised to ensure that learning is pitched at the required depth for each person. Ideally, it should integrate the delivery methods favoured by 24 hour-connected digital natives in order to maximise their engagement levels.
‘We are talking about a basic human competence—the ability to learn on one’s own - that has suddenly become a prerequisite for living in this new world. – Malcom Knowles.
In a global survey of 4,000 professionals on LinkedIn, the 2018 Workplace Learning Report has confirmed that people want more efficient, effective and flexible learning, made available to them on their terms, to allow them to upskill faster than ever before. Results of the report reveal that: 68 percent of employees prefer to learn at work, 58 percent to learn at their own pace and 49 percent of employees prefer learn at the point of need.
The survey stated that while the number one priority for talent development was training in adaptive people skills; getting employees to make the time for learning was also the main challenge faced by organisations. The LinkedIn study also found that 56 percent of employees would willingly spend more time learning - but only if their manager was able to identify specific ways to improve these skills.
Additionally, there are indications of a growing frustration among management groups in terms of how their own development is taking place. According to the Chartered Management Institute, over 70 percent of UK managers are looking to take advantage of self-lead and just-in-time development from sources such as books, mobile learning, downloads, videos and podcasts to enable them to learn in their own way in their own time. However, for such an approach to be effective, managers, like their own staff, will need to know how to access reliable and proven content.
Chris Watson’s new book ‘Upskill: 21 keys to Professional Growth’ provides a compendium of resources for readers to pick up and refer to in their own time and at their own pace: 840 practical ideas reflecting the latest thinking on how to extend personal performance. The suggestions have all been grouped around a set of twenty-one adaptive skills, which are associated with successful outcomes at work and beyond. The skills were identified following feedback from 8,000 businesses over a 10 year period. They can be practised and refined throughout a career and are as relevant for new starters in an organisation as they are for more experienced managers. The book provides a plethora of development ideas to help individuals adapt and adjust to new approaches and work methods. It can be used to support upskilling through the identification of relevant and realistic options for professional growth. Readers will discover a host of proven techniques: relevant articles, quotes and resources, carefully selected videos, novel approaches, time-saving apps, topical insights and engaging tools. This compendium of high leverage tools and techniques delivers a dynamic snapshot of learning possibilities. It can be used by managers, supervisors, coaches, HR practioners, training professionals - as well as proactive employees who are committed to their own personal development. Ultimately, Upskill reinforces the importance of applied people skills and the human dimension of work, by placing each person at the heart of the learning process.
Chris Watson is an award-winning specialist in the promotion of adaptive management skills, who founded Endor Learn & Develop in 2002 following a successful career in publishing and higher education.
He provides fresh, practical ideas to extend performance at work, delivering results through people for every type of organisation – from emerging SMEs through to multinational corporations.