Seven Ways to Kill the Will to Learn; Four Ways to Fuel It.

June 10, 2013 Darcy Jacobsen

Apple on a keyboardHave you created a learning environment in your company?

Or are you— knowingly or unknowingly—killing your employees’ will to learn?

Learning is one of the most critical factors in creating organizational change. It is an important tool in helping to manage and evolve your culture. It’s also an essential element in creating the sort of continuous improvement we rely on for success.

According to Fast Company, “It pays to invest in people-focused practices including building learning capacity, knowledge accessibility, and professional development. Institutions that demonstrate the greatest commitment to their human capital seem to enjoy the greatest financial rewards.”

Most of us aspire to create a culture in which our employees are constantly growing and striving and learning. But it isn’t enough to simply drag people into a room and lecture them for a few hours, or even to set them in front of the computer for self-directed learning.  Ideally we want them to WANT to learn, to then be able to APPLY that learning and help it stick, and to SHARE that learning to others in the organization

It turns out there are factors that will help or hinder learning in any organization. Because as important as the learning is, it is the moments that follow learning that are most critical, when it must be reinforced and put into practice.

Scholars of organizational behavior have identified seven hindering aspects to transfer of learning.

  1. Lack of peer support
  2. Lack of reinforcement back on the job
  3. Time and work pressures
  4. Lack of authority
  5. Perceived irrelevance of the program
  6. Lack of support from the organization
  7. Group resistance to training

Four support factors have also been identified:

  1. Job/role aids
  2. Reward
  3. Support, particularly from supervisors and peers
  4. Opportunity to use learning

Support and reinforcement (including reward) emerge as some of the most important, and controllable factors on these lists. 

Performance Charts

Source: SHRM / Globoforce Spring 2013 Employee Recognition Survey

So if you are looking to create a culture of learning and growth in your organization, consider not just the quality of the learning and training you are offering, but what comes afterward. And don’t discount the power of positive reinforcement through recognition.

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