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Employees who embrace learning eagerly develop new skills, innovate creatively, and welcome change - the ingredients of success for any organization that wants to stay competitive and meet the challenges of the turbulent 21st century workplace. Developing Employees Who Love to Learn is filled with innovative strategies for helping employees advance themselves - and their businesses - by learning to learn. Step by step this book shows how to lay the groundwork and put in place the activities and programs that will...
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Employees who embrace learning eagerly develop new skills, innovate creatively, and welcome change - the ingredients of success for any organization that wants to stay competitive and meet the challenges of the turbulent 21st century workplace. Developing Employees Who Love to Learn is filled with innovative strategies for helping employees advance themselves - and their businesses - by learning to learn. Step by step this book shows how to lay the groundwork and put in place the activities and programs that will generate meaningful employee learning. Author Linda Honold's numerous illustrative examples give managers, human resources, and organization development professionals a much-needed guide to promoting ongoing learning at work. Using the information and implementing an effective learning-to-learn system will integrate learning with work, link a new learning approach to an existing career development program, encourage employees to be responsible for their own learning, develop employees who are engaged in their work, tie employee learning to performance evaluations, and transform any workplace into a learning environment.
Why Focus on Learning?
"Everyone will increasingly be expected not only to be good at something, to have their own professional or technical expertise, but will also very rapidly acquire responsibility for money, people, projects, or all three-a managerial task, in other words" (Handy, 1989). As this quote notes, the marketplace is continually changing. Information and data are instantaneously available. The market is no longer local, it is global. Competition is fierce. Organizations must adapt in order to survive, and the people within them must change to meet new demands. Peter Vaill (1989) compares the old economic system to navigating a canoe that is floating down a gently flowing river. The manager's job was to guide the canoe and provide direction for the paddlers. As long as the workers continued to paddle-to do their jobs as they were told-things were fine. Today's world of business management, he continues, is more like navigating continual white-water rapids. It takes more than managers making decisions and working toward improvement. Every person in the company must, at times, act like a manager. All employees contribute to keeping up with the marketplace.Sometimes this means involvement in decision making. At other times, employees must be willing to implement changes recommended by management.
How can employees become engaged in such activities? They must see that being engaged is part of their role. It doesn't work to simply tell an employee, "You need to act like a manager," or, "You must be open to change." Engagement cannot be forced. Both skills and attitudes are at issue. While decision-making skills can be taught, attitudes cannot. Attitudes come from within individuals and can only be changed by the individuals themselves. They must truly understand the idea and feel a sense of ownership toward it.
The best way to achieve such a state is to have a workforce filled with learners. Why? Learning and change are synonymous. One cannot change without learning something; one cannot learn without changing something, even if it is only a mental process. The challenge is to get people to learn. Since people engage in learning anyway, this doesn't appear to be an overwhelming task. It is not, however, as straightforward as it seems.
Ask people what they have learned lately and they will invariably tell you about the last class or most recent training program they attended. Attending a class or being in a training program does not necessarily mean that anything was learned. It is natural for people to think learning takes place only in a formal classroom setting. From childhood on, most of us went to school to learn. We are unlikely to describe as learning something that occurred informally on the job, in a conversation with a peer or mentor, or in a recently read book. Yet most learning takes place in these settings. A formal approach may be best for some people or for certain subjects, but not for all situations. An expert on selfmanaged learning, Ian Cunningham (1999) suggests that "people learn most often from sources other than courses."
Learning in the workplace may occur in a planned training environment or spontaneously, as employees are challenged on the job to achieve a production goal or to come up with a customer-demanded product improvement. Learning in the workplace includes the following key concepts:
Responsibility for Learning Resides with the Learner
People who have been taught may not know how to learn. In classrooms and in many training programs, teachers are responsible for determining the content of the material they present. They impart this information to those who are there to learn. In a more self-directed type of learning, the learner has responsibility for his or her own learning. Often the learner determines what is to be learned. The teacher is generally less a presenter of knowledge than a facilitator who involves the learner in the process of locating resources through which to learn. Sometimes the content focuses on attaining the skills and knowledge to achieve organizational goals. At other times, personal issues are stressed, as they are critical to engaging the individual in learning.
For example, Chaparral Steel needed to increase the yield on a specific lathe in order to meet the needs of its customers (Solomon, 1994)...