More than ever before, leaders who prioritise empowering their people to be self-starting learners are better positioned to thrive. The need for continuous learning and skill development is now a strategic imperative for long-term success, not a box-ticking HR exercise.
Nearly every leader I speak to supports staff development. Many of them are disappointed in their staff’s response. These leaders have to compete for very specialised and hard-to-find talent. They know that technology is reshaping the workplace, and the pace of change is accelerating. They know their people need to keep their skills up to date and remain competitive.
They understand that most people do not like learning and only do it when correctly motivated and clear on the requirements and purpose.
Making Learners is Tough
Lack of buy-in from key stakeholders and lack of understanding of the benefits learning brings are often the first stumbling blocks. People often resist learning and development opportunities due to a fear of change or unfamiliarity with organising their own learning platforms.
They may feel isolated and lack a sense of community and collaboration when learning what they are used to in the workplace. They may feel they do not have the time or resources and are overwhelmed with work.
However, organisations need self-starting learners because these people drive the innovation and adaptability required to stay competitive today. Gaining buy-in is essential for overcoming resistance to learning. Communicating the why and objectives of and explaining how it will benefit them and the organisation can help people see the value of the learning process.
First, take some time to empathise with your staff and their current situation. They are working hard, are probably stretched doing new things, and there is much uncertainty in the world around them.
They genuinely may not see the value in learning and development opportunities or why they must invest time and effort. They may prefer to stick with familiar processes and systems rather than learn new ones.
Previous experiences may have left them lacking confidence in their ability to learn new skills or knowledge. They may not see how the learning content is relevant to their job or career goals. Identify the root causes and barriers.
Then, Start the Change
Start at the top: Ensure senior leaders are clear on the importance and are willing to make room for learning. Ideally, leaders should set an example for everyone in the organisation to do the same.
Transfer ownership: Put employees in charge of their learning journey. Let them choose the skills and areas they want to develop and support them with resources.
Invest in platform+: Educational technology platforms can offer a wide range of courses and resources at a fraction of the cost of traditional training. However, they do not make jobs more manageable or people more likely to use their new skills. Tech platforms are a part of the answer, but never the answer in themselves. Build clarity and opportunity to use new skills.
Support knowledge sharing: Establish channels and forums where employees can share insights, experiences and lessons learned. This peer-to-peer learning is valuable and cost-effective.
Foster the new mindset: Encourage employees to seek continuous improvement and adaptation opportunities. Regularly solicit feedback from employees about their learning experiences. Use their insights to refine and improve your learning programmes.
Involve and empower employees: Invite people to get involved in the design and implementation of the learning to reduce resistance. Solicit their ideas and feedback, acknowledge their suggestions, and give them autonomy and ownership over the change process, empowering them to make decisions.
Begin with scale in mind: There is lots of free and low-cost content out there of variable quality. When your people are more accountable for their learning, they will be better able to use it. But for now, invest in content and approaches that provide you with the most application opportunities across your workforce.
Choose Your Tech Carefully
Most available Edtech solutions unfortunately fall short of their promise. Technology is playing a pivotal role in reshaping learning and making the delivery of information more efficient, but the key is ensuring learning turns into improvement quickly, or you are wasting your time and money.
The link between learning and organisational success is undeniable. Effective people leaders understand it is a strategic asset in driving innovation, adaptability and competitiveness. Organisations that create a continuous learning and development culture are better positioned to thrive.
Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer, Managing Director and Founder at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Centre. She is fascinated by the challenge of transforming education for all to create better prospects for Thais and people everywhere. Reach her by email at email@example.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa