What draws leaders to a learning opportunity

by L&D29 Nov 2016
Just because learning is provided does not mean that people will embrace it, according to Mark Busine, managing director of DDI Australia.

This is particularly so with some learning platforms where we assume that simply making a variety of technology-based learning assets available will be enough to support learning, he added.

Another risk is blindly embracing a broad set of assumptions or stereotypes about different groups of learners (eg, all millennials prefer mobile and social forms of learning).

In fact, a recent report by McKinsey&Company found that millennials benefit from high-touch learning no less than workers from previous generations do.

“Younger employees may spend more time online and be more comfortable with mobile applications,” said Busine.

“But they should not be forced – and, in our experience, don’t desire – to engage solely with digital learning tools.

“There are two questions we need to constantly remind ourselves of: why people learn and what draws someone to a learning situation.”

Busine outlines six key areas where these questions apply:

Just in time. Just in need. Often leaders need information, knowledge, or guidance at a point in time to do their jobs or complete a task. Think of this as the GPS of workplace learning.

Compliance. This is a legitimate and necessary reason for learning in many organisations and industries that operate under specific guidelines and regulations. 

Curiosity. A desire to learn is often sparked by curiosity for a particular subject matter or area of practice. It may not be grounded in any specific workplace need, but it often helps to build an individual’s portfolio of knowledge.

Self-improvement. Leaders will often recognise the need to improve their knowledge or skills in a particular area. This is more formal than curiosity and often requires deliberate focus and practice. The drive for self-improvement is typically underpinned by a specific need to enhance certain skills and/or build one’s knowledge and understanding of a subject.

Advance to a new role/level. Leaders and organisations recognise the need to develop new skills and acquire new knowledge as people advance and/or move to a new role or level. This is based on the simple reality that the skills and knowledge at one level of the organisation may be very different to those at another level. 

Prepare for future roles/levels. Leaders and organisations will often forecast the need for a set of skills and knowledge that will be important in future roles and levels. For example, leaders recognise the need early in a leadership journey to develop their approach to strategic thinking.  

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