7 Ways To Foster Independent Learning In Employees
What is independent learning? And how do you apply this principle to your company? To put it simply, it is learning as an individual, but also taking into consideration that no two employees learn at the same pace and in the same manner. Therefore, it is key to give them the freedom to choose their preferred mode of learning.
In this article, we explore why independent learning is vital to your employees’ growth plus seven easy ways to encourage this with examples.
Why is independent learning important?
1. It creates critical thinkers Independent learning teaches employees to plot their path to achieve their goals. It enables the employees to identify areas in their life that can still be developed to level up their careers. And the ability to spot this requires you to think critically.
2. Value of self-improvement When you encourage employees towards independent learning, you teach them to value self-improvement. Whether the choice is learning a hard skill that will give them expertise in their field, or a soft skill that will help an employee in common areas such as time management, teamwork, and creative thinking.
3. Relevance and Sustainability Whether an employee wants to level up or wants to make a lateral move within the company, it is best to allow him or her to have free rein over a preferred means of acquiring new skills. Based on part three of the Decoding Global Talent survey by Jobsteet and Boston Consulting Group, 70% percent of the respondents prefer on-the-job training for skills development with self-study following closely at 63%.
Perhap the silver lining of the pandemic was that employees, including those who may have been laid off or have had to stop work temporarily, had more hours at their disposal for online learning. The long term effect? Employees took on a mindset of continuous learning that will help them remain relevant as their careers progress--even beyond the pandemic.
4. Take-charge mindset Give employees a chance to figure out tasks at their own pace. Instead of spoon-feeding, create independent, self-thinking employees. Self-learning can definitely help encourage this take-charge attitude, and in the process, also help employees value accountability at work.
5. Creativity Creativity does not only apply to jobs connected to the arts. In fact, in all work areas, there is an amount of creativity involved. For example, as a sales team lead, how do you creatively encourage your team to come up with creative ways to market products or attract customers and as a result, hit monthly quotas?
6. Gives A Sense of Accomplishment Employees who are given the chance to plot their path towards learning and reaching their goals feel a sense of accomplishment. In turn, this will boost loyalty to your company and help you retain valuable talent.
7 ways to promote independent learning
1. Personal Strategic Learning Plan Teach your employees the skill of making a strategic plan. Begin with making them realize their vision and mission. Soon after, strategies and learning goals can follow. Moreover, make sure values in life are set for guidance and balance. And lastly, a realistic timeline should be drawn. A personal strategic plan must cover all elements of one’s work and family life to ensure there is a good balance.
2. Sharing Conversations among employees promote intellectual curiosity and dialogue. First of all, engage with your employees in meaningful discussions. By talking about anything and everything, be it philosophy, art and culture, or economics, you encourage them to do the same.
Secondly, create a safe space for employees by giving them permission to speak their minds while remaining respectful of differing views and opinions.
3. Create Learning Communities A community can also be helpful for boosting learning in different areas of interest both in and outside of the office. With regard to the latter, in a piece written for the Harvard Business Review, non-work passions can help individuals acquire new skills. Another benefit? Communities can foster connections with like-minded people.
So try creating groups for fitness like an in-house sports team or even the arts like a book or movie club. As for work-related skills, create communities where employees can foster skills in leadership and writing.
4. Inform Employees About Courses and Upcoming Seminars Utilize your social media accounts, viber or whatsapp group, or email to inform employees of recommended courses or modules to take, or company-sponsored seminars to attend. To encourage them to sign up, mention the benefits of these courses to get You can even incentivize employees by setting up a reward system as one example, or paying for the cost of an online course. For internal initiatives, you can explore self-help modules or classes offered by a third party.
5. Skills Assessment Tools Provide your employees with tools to accurately assess their skills. An example of this is the Disc Personality Test or The Myers-Briggs 16-personality Test. These tests can help them identify both strengths as well as gaps in their abilities, thereby providing a baseline for improvement.
6. Mentors Provide your team with mentors. Here are some examples of mentoring programs you can explore.
Diversity Mentoring Program. This type of mentoring caters to under-represented groups in the workplace such as LQBTQI+.
Developmental Mentoring Program. This is the most common form of mentoring that defines a senior-junior relationship. With the aim of skills and mindset enhancement for the latter’s career development.
High Potential Employee Mentoring Program. This is another type of mentoring that involves identifying your top performers,and providing them with a development program to ensure growth.
Reverse Mentoring Program. In this type of program, the junior shares his insights with his or her superior. Which gives the higher-ups a different perspective. Because of this method, workplaces policies and processes can be improved.
7. On-The-Job Training and Blended Learning Much like coaching, mentoring, or even shadowing an OJT is hands-on training--but one that can definitely complement self-learning methods. This is called Blended Learning. While training with you, an employee can also study other learning materials on one’s own.
Here are the different types of on-the-job training to consider.
Job Rotation. In this training, an employee is transferred from one job to the other in order to experience different responsibilities within the company.
Coaching. This training puts an employee under a supervisor, who will provide both training and feedback.
Job instructions. The coach gives a step-by-step tutorial to her/his trainee. In this manner, the employee gets on-the-spot correction if and when mistakes are made.
Committee assignments. This aims to improve teamwork when training is given as a group.
Internship training. Theoretical and practical aspects are given to company trainees. Sometimes interns may receive allowances while attending the program.
Shadowing. This is a type of unstructured OJT, wherein an employee observes another professional to learn various skills as it relates to one’s role.
The goal of learning isn’t to be the best in the field. Nor is it meant to turn an employee into somebody else. It is for self-improvement. And you are in the best position to equip your employees. By providing the tools and training they need to improve.