You may have heard the following statistic: people learn 70 to 80% of what they need to know to perform their jobs through informal means. While traditional classroom courses and e-learning programs aren’t likely to fade away, it is time to focus some of our efforts on that 70 to 80%.
Let’s take a look at a three-step strategy that can help you incorporate informal learning in your organization.
Step 1: You first need to have a clear understanding of the informal ways people learn. Surfing the internet, talking with co-workers, reading trade journals/newspapers, and watching people perform their tasks either live or through YouTube are all just a few informal ways that people learn their jobs. Once you have a clear understanding of informal learning, you can choose methods/strategies that will work for your company.
Step 2: Any initiative requires upper-management support, and encouraging informal learning is no exception. As training leaders, we need to “pull-out all the stops” by marketing/promoting informal learning. Talk to as many leaders as possible in your organization about the benefits of informal learning and the strategy you plan to implement. Hold lunch-and-learns, town hall meetings, and attend management meetings where you can communicate the values of informal learning. Encourage all levels of management to allow their employees time to share their knowledge. Don’t be too critical of people who are talking at the water cooler, for example, because it could be informal learning in action.
Step 3: Few new initiatives get incorporated successfully without some form of incentive. Incentives could be as simple as free donuts in a break room where people can meet and share, to gift cards, days off, or fun/friendly competitions for helping others perform better in their jobs. Be creative when creating incentive programs!
As training leaders, we need to embrace a new culture of learning in our organizations. Just remember to always stay positive and up-beat during the transition and be as visible as possible because you are politicking for an important cause.
How are you encouraging informal learning in your organization?