Learning at work ? More proactivity is needed

Summary : considering how fast things change and knowledge becomes outdated, employees can’t rely anymore on the official enterprise training programs that are only relevant for heavy and “structuring’ trainings. Moreover, knowledge and know-how acquisition is not enough : people now have to understand the fast-moving context where they’ll use it all. Beyond training programs there’s a room for awareness ones.

Keeping employees’ knowledge up-to-date is essential for both employers and employees. Everyone has to keep the pace of a fast-moving context and except a few very structuring things, most of what we know as a life durations that’s getting everyday shorter.

Moreover, any knowledge makes no sense without a deep understand of the context. A recruiter, a communication project manager etc… have still been doing the same job for decades and have to master some basics. But if they spent the three last years doing “as usual” they may experience some some troubles in a close future, if not already, because they have too little or even no understanding of the fast-emerging practices and tools.

That’s were the problem is.

The traditional corporate training programs have a big downside : they made employees become passive if not assisted. While the enterprise has not said that something is important, trying to know more about it is not worth it. If the enterprise does not say that the context is moving, it means that it’s not moving. With such behaviors, it’s not impossible to see this kind of thing happening : in 2010 the head of communication wakes up and says “we don’t master our message anymore : people talk about us on the we. We have to join the conversation”. Scene of panic among employees. Facebook ? Twitter ? “But we were not told it was important”. “Do businesses have something to do on these platforms ?”…”Oh but there’s no training session about Twitter on the catalog !”.

It reminds me of a friend working at the HR dept at a large company. The conversation took place in 2008. “You know linkedin ?”. “Heard about…”. “It does not interest you ?”. “No, because we’re not using it”. “And what about being the first who wonders how to use it ?”. “No. We don’t use it. Not one of our business tools. Moreover, we have not been trained to use it”.

Enterprises and HR dept can’t do everything, can’t keep the pace of context evolutions, build training sessions for anything. There’s a flow of continuous evolutions that has to be captured, understood in such short cycles that a centralized system can’t meet this kind of need.

But there’s an unfortunate belief according to which :

– all that is not “official enterprise usage” does not exist. There’s nothing to learn by looking by the office window.

– if anything new is needed, then the enterprise will tell and teach and train.

But there’s also a need for awareness, context understanding that have to come before training. Moreover the “learning how to” can also be dangerous : people have to understand what they do and why. Back to the anticipation and awareness need…

The fault is “shared” :

– employees are not enough curious about their work, their job, the coming evolutions. What can explain a kind of fear of the future….

– organizations make everything to prevent employees from being proactive while they would benefit a lot from it. Awareness and watch are parts of anyone’s job and reduce the risk of seeing, one day, a lot of employees being outdated and off topic because “they didn’t know”, “they were not told”, “they did not anticipate”, “they did not see” things were changing that fast and their job was being transformed on a 3 years cycle.

Employees should know they can’t expect everything for the “welfare enterprise”, that they have to care themselves of their knowledge, watch, benchmark, network. They should be told why, shown how and, most of all, not been prevented from doing so.

In addition to training programs, awareness programs would be fully relevant today. knowledge are not only stocks we receive but more and more flows we need to capture.

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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