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learning in the workplace

How to Avoid Cookie-Cutter Learning in the Workplace

By Roz
Published on February 27, 2017

Remember in school when some students excelled in classroom settings while others could only grasp concepts when they were in hands-on shop classes for field trips?


If you are not designing workplace learning options, recall those days and realize that cookie-cutter learning rarely works for everyone.


Science is now teaching us that every individual learns in a different way and at a different speed. Some of us do learning from reading chapters in a book or taking notes through a lecture, but others need to have visuals, small amounts of information delivered at once, or even ways of bringing concepts to life in non-traditional examples.


The reason why a one-size-fits-all concept to deliver knowledge is particularly ill-adapted to the workplace is that it naturally assumes that like children in grade school, your employees are all starting the class at the same knowledge base level.


They aren’t. Some of them had a great deal of training before they joined your organization while others are just learning about your industry day to day as they go. Some have years of formal education behind them, while others had skills that propelled them forward, but they lack essential theories and concepts that emerged from more formal education.


Attitudes are another thing that separate learners and it is important that all learning considers this factor. For example, there are people motivated to learn throughout their whole life. There are other people who feel that they know pretty much everything they need to know and further training is largely a waste of time. There are other people who just have no appetite for learning and will only open their minds to it if they think their survival on the job depends on it.


As learning options develop and the world of human resources and industry embraces mobile learning and eLearning, we now have the tools to provide training options that are highly individualized.


Despite that, most companies are still thinking in the one-size-fits-all mode. They may believe they are progressive by abandoning the classroom/seminar structure and moving to eLearning modules. They may cut up their manuals into bite-sized pieces and deliver them through mobile apps.


The issue isn’t that all of these techniques won’t work on some people, because they will. But they won’t work on everyone. Some people learn best one-on-one from a mentor in an informal setting. Some love the thrill of learning alone on their own time from eLearning or mobile learning course delivery. Still others need that seminar setting to remove the other distractions from their mind, entertain new concepts, and talk them through with their colleagues.


Many employees are motivated as well to take over their own learning initiatives and can become frustrated when the company fails to acknowledge or support that.


The bottom line is that despite a large pool of learning options available now, we are often still caught in picking just one and going with it.


Instead, why not talk to targeted employees who have to be updated on their skills and find out what kind of learning approach works best for them. It is not too complicated to take the same material and deliver it in a variety of different ways.


Such a customized approach to learning will be more effective in the long run.


Tomorrow’s employees will continue to experience a pace of technological change unlike anything seen by previous generations. They will not be ready to adapt and grow with it if companies cannot deliver training systems that work for them.


Self-paced and self-directed learning has been found to be effective over and over again. But is works best when self-designed training methods go hand-and-hand with it.

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