Ten Ways to Build your Learning Organization through Self-Directed Learning
Guest Blogger: Juergen Juffa
Self-directed learners are the critical mass of today’s successful learning organizations. Compared to traditional training, self-directed learning has more focus, higher flexibility, lower cost and a greater rate of translating learning into performance. Considering rapidly changing business environments, dwindling half-lives of knowledge and reduced training budgets, these attributes become even more relevant.
Here are ten ways to increase self-directed learning in your organization:
1) Build your team with self-directed learners. Use one of the established testing methods, such as the self-directed learning readiness scale (SDLRS) to ensure additions to the team have self-directed learning skills. Make sure you probe for self-directed training when interviewing. Keep in mind that degrees are the starting point of career learning, rather than the end.
2) Make employees aware of self-directed learning. Stress the necessity of self-directed learning for every high-performance organization. Communicate methods for self-directed learning. Encourage employees to share self-directed learning experiences. Create awareness that learning results can be facilitated by different learning styles. Have employees with different levels of self-directed learning experience connect formally or informally.
3) Create space and time for learning. Allow your employees to read work-related literature during work hours. Provide spaces where employees are free from distractions and interruptions to learning. Supply books, trade magazines, internet access, and multimedia equipment for a learning center. Permit your employees to work from home when engaging in a learning project.
4) Encourage employees to become active members of trade and industry organizations. Let them attend chapter meetings on company time. Arrange for a fair split of dues between the company and personal funds. Encourage your employee to tap into online resources such as forums and list servers.
5) Increase the level of professional certification among your team. Encourage employees to leverage studying for their certification as an opportunity to survey their field and discover additional learning opportunities.
6) Create acceptance for mistakes as learning opportunities. Deal constructively with failures and communicate lessons learned.
7) Use learning contracts to agree on specific learning initiatives with your employees. Make learning projects an integral part of the annual review process. Establish learning as a part of every job description.
8) Create a culture where willingness to share is encouraged. Reward employees that exemplify self-directed learning behavior. Allow learners to collaborate. Stress that self-directed learning is not the same as learning in isolation.
9) Transform your training department from a provider of training solutions to a resource for learning opportunities. Have your training department teach employees how to identify their learning needs and use learning resources. Publish learning guides. Transform trainers into learning coaches.
10) Leverage technology. Encourage the use of computer-based training, knowledge databases, wikis and intranets as tools for self-directed learning.
What are your organization’s approaches to promoting self-directed learning among employees? What successes and failures have resulted from those methods?