Unfortunately, for many employees, workplace learning ends up being another task tagged on the end of an ever-growing to-do list.
Yet, Deloitte’s 2017 ‘Global Human Capital Trends’ report found 42 per cent of millennials are likely to leave their organisations because they’re not learning fast enough.
The data also reveals that among millennials, the “ability to learn and progress” is now a key element in their perception of a company’s brand.
While opportunities for workplace learning are highly valued, time is a significantly limiting factor.
When the average employee has only 24 minutes per week to learn, it is crucial to understand how to maximise that time and ensure that learning is useful.
In this article, we will be exploring how participants can make the most of their online learning experience in the time available.
Maximising a learning opportunity
The following five tips are our suggestions for maximising the time you allocate to online learning. Whether you are a participant or learning and development professional, they may be useful to share with your colleagues and help to develop the learning culture in your organisation:
1. Understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie
If you know exactly which aspects of your role you are good at and which need some work, you can use the limited time you have for learning in a targeted way.
For example, if you know you need to develop your communication skills, but you are confident in the hard skills required for your role, communication should be the focus of your learning time.
Avoid completing tasks and lessons you already understand for the sake of it, and communicate this to those responsible for learning and development in your organisation.
Sometimes flexibility in workplace training is limited, and every staff member has to take the same course. If this is the case, when you are given the opportunity to provide feedback, you can explain that it would be better if the learning was personalised.
2. Develop a growth mindset for learning
The term “growth mindset” was coined by Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck.
She argues that an individual’s views of their ability can be placed on a continuum, from those with a “fixed mindset” to those with a “growth mindset”.
In an interview in 2012, she describes the difference between the two states of mind in the following way:
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
3. Use your initiative
Being able to learn independently is a crucial skill for any employee (or adult!) to have, but it isn’t always easy. Sometimes we expect those in positions of responsibility to have all the answers, when we could easily do a little extra research and find out for ourselves. This will save time emailing back and forth or waiting for answers to questions you could easily Google.
4. Ask for help when you need it
On the flipside of this, there will be situations when a new concept just isn’t clicking for you, and you need to ask somebody for help.
A great prompt used in schools to encourage independent thought is ‘brain, book, buddy, boss’ when students are looking for answers to a question.
If you have exhausted all the other options available to you, asking a colleague, a facilitator or your boss is a perfectly viable next step. More often than not, you will find the answer before needing to ask your boss and you can both happily continue getting on with the other tasks you have planned for the day.
5. Be clear on your learning goals
You can either work on learning goals by yourself, with a line manager or in collaboration with a colleague responsible for learning and development in your organisation.
When thinking about what your learning goals are, your most recent performance review is a good place to start. Learning and development goals may already be included in your review, but, if not, think about which specific areas of your role you really need to pay more attention to.
This information, as well as understanding your general strengths and weaknesses, will help you to form a clear picture of the direction your learning needs to take.
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