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Components of a successful employee learning experience

Based on adult learning principles, here is a checklist for a successful employee learning experience:

      The goals of the employee training or development program are clear

 

      The employees are involved in determining the knowledge, skills and abilities to be learned

 

      The employees are participating in activities during the learning process

 

      The work experiences and knowledge that employees bring to each learning situation are used as a resource

 

      A practical and problem-centered approach based on real examples is used

 

      New material is connected to the employee’s past learning and work experience

 

      The employees are given an opportunity to reinforce what they learn by practicing

 

      The learning environment is informal, safe and supportive

 

      The individual employee is shown respect

 

    The learning opportunity promotes positive self-esteem

The employee training and development process

Learning happens all the time whether or not you are fully aware of it. Are you a person who forgets to save your work on your computer on a regular basis? If a power failure occurs and you loose some data, do you learn anything? If you say to yourself, “I must remember to save more often”, you have done some learning. This type of learning is called incidental learning; you have learned without really thinking about it or meaning to. On the other hand, intentional learning happens when you engage in activities with an attitude of “what can I learn from this?” Employee development requires you to approach everyday activity with the intention of learning from what is going on around you.

Who is responsible for employee training and development?

Employee training is the responsibility of the organization. Employee development is a shared responsibility of management and the individual employee. The responsibility of management is to provide the right resources and an environment that supports the growth and development needs of the individual employee.

For employee training and development to be successful, management should:

      Provide a well-crafted job description – it is the foundation upon which employee training and development activities are built

 

      Provide training required by employees to meet the basic competencies for the job. This is usually the supervisor’s responsibility

 

      Develop a good understanding of the knowledge, skills and abilities that the organization will need in the future. What are the long-term goals of the organization and what are the implications of these goals for employee development? Share this knowledge with staff

 

      Look for learning opportunities in every-day activity. Was there an incident with a client that everyone could learn from? Is there a new government report with implications for the organization?

 

      Explain the employee development process and encourage staff to develop individual development plans

 

    Support staff when they identify learning activities that make them an asset to your organization both now and in the future

For employee development to be a success, the individual employee should:

Look for learning opportunities in everyday activities
Identify goals and activities for development and prepare an individual development plan

Cost-effective methods for employee training and development

Cost-effective methods for employee training and development

Employee training and development needs to suit your organization’s context, job descriptions, employment contracts and collective agreements. When selecting employee training and development methods, it is important to remember the learning process. There are many ways to provide employees with learning opportunities, including:

On-the-job experience

Committees
Committees are part of every-day activity in any organization. They can also be effective learning tools, with the right focus
Committees made up of staff from different areas of your organization will enhance learning by allowing members to see issues from different perspectives
Set aside part of the committee’s work time to discuss issues or trends that may impact on the organization in the future

Conferences and forums
Employees can attend conferences that focus on topics of relevance to their position and the organization
Upon their return, have the employee make a presentation to other staff as a way of enhancing the individual’s learning experience and as a way of enhancing the organization. (Some conferences and forums may be considered off-the-job learning)

Critical incident notes
Day-to-day activities are always a source of learning opportunities
Select the best of these opportunities and write up critical incident notes for staff to learn from. Maybe a client complaint was handled effectively. Write a brief summary of the incident and identify the employee’s actions that led to a successful resolution
Share the notes with the employee involved and with others as appropriate. If the situation was not handled well, again write a brief description of the situation identifying areas for improvement
Discuss the critical incident notes with the employee and identify the areas for the employee to improve upon and how you will assist the employee in doing this

Field trips
If your organization has staff at more than one site, provide employees with an opportunity to visit the other sites

This helps your employees gain a better understanding of the full range of programs and clients that your organization serves

Field trips to other organizations serving a similar clientele or with similar positions can also provide a valuable learning experience

Give staff going on field trips a list of questions to answer or a list of things to look for

Follow up the field trip by having staff explain what they have learned and how they can apply that learning to your organization. (Fieldtrips can also be an off-the-job activity)

Job aids
Tools can be given to employees to help them perform their jobs better. These tools include: manuals, checklists, phone lists, procedural guidelines, decision guidelines and so forth
Job aids are very useful for new employees, employees taking on new responsibilities and for activities that happen infrequently

Job expanding
Once an employee has mastered the requirements of his or her job and is performing satisfactorily, s/he may want greater challenges. Consider assigning new additional duties to the employee
Which duties to assign should be decided by the employee and her or his manager
Organizations with flat organizational structure are starting to give some managerial tasks to experienced staff as a way of keeping those staff challenged

Job rotation
On a temporary basis, employees can be given the opportunity to work in a different area of the organization
The employee keeps his or her existing job but fills in for or exchanges responsibilities with another employee

Job shadowing
If an employee wants to learn what someone else in your organization does, your employee can follow that person and observe him or her at work
Usually the person doing the shadowing does not help with the work that is being done

Learning alerts
Newspaper articles, government announcements and reports can be used as learning alerts
Prepare a brief covering page which could include a short summary and one or two key questions for your employees to consider. Then circulate the item
Include the item on the agenda of your next staff meeting for a brief discussion

Peer-assisted learning
Two employees agree to help each other learn different tasks. Both employees should have an area of expertise that the co-worker can benefit from
The employees take turns helping their co-worker master the knowledge or skill that they have to share

‘Stretch’ assignments
These assignments give the employee an opportunity to stretch past his or her current abilities. For example, a stretch assignment could require an employee to chair a meeting if the person has never done this before
To ensure that chairing the meeting is a good learning experience, the manager should take time after the meeting to discuss with the employee what went well and what could have been improved

Special projects
Give an employee an opportunity to work on a project that is normally outside his or her job duties. For example, someone who has expressed an interest in events planning could be given the opportunity to work as part of a special events team

Components of a successful employee learning experience

Based on adult learning principles, here is a checklist for a successful employee learning experience:

      The goals of the employee training or development program are clear

 

      The employees are involved in determining the knowledge, skills and abilities to be learned

 

      The employees are participating in activities during the learning process

 

      The work experiences and knowledge that employees bring to each learning situation are used as a resource

 

      A practical and problem-centered approach based on real examples is used

 

      New material is connected to the employee’s past learning and work experience

 

      The employees are given an opportunity to reinforce what they learn by practicing

 

      The learning environment is informal, safe and supportive

 

      The individual employee is shown respect

 

    The learning opportunity promotes positive self-esteem