By Karen Rodriguez - Exec|Comm
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
-- Mahatma Gandhi
Our recent discussion with a dynamic group of learning and development professionals, from various industries, focused on how to sustain adult learning in business. Some of the key areas of the conversation centered on practicing skills, modeling to change behavior, and getting buy-in from leadership. All of which are important aspects of sustaining learning.
We asked. They answered!
What can you do to ingrain skills and encourage a culture of practice?
• Time your training with implementation.
Business professionals are more successful when they have real-life application shortly after learning a new skill. We recommend you learn, practice, reflect and implement within two weeks.
• Create a regular time to practice.
Whether you offer it weekly or bi-weekly, set up a room where people can practice their skills and hear peer feedback. This is most beneficial for soft skills like presentation skills.
• End training programs with goal-setting.
Have the attendees set at least one S.M.A.R.T. goal and discuss it with their manager. Add the goal to their performance review to create accountability.
• Create peer groups or buddies.
Everyone is more successful with an accountability buddy. Schedule social engagements for the groups to meet and build a true support system.
How can you use role models to change the behavior of others?
• Create a mentoring program.
Have the c-suite and senior leaders mentor newer associates for at least a year. The mentor will impart job knowledge, but they will also support professional growth.
• Interview top level executives.
The interviews should focus on why the training is important. The leaders can share best practices, case studies, and challenges. Show the interviews during leadership training to put the skills in real world business scenarios.
• Train your leaders to be trainers.
Have the business leaders in your organization participate in the training and deliver key sections. By modeling the behavior and tying the content back to the business they will increase participant engagement and create accountability.
How do you get leadership to buy in to and commit to learning and sustaining skills?
• Clear the employee’s calendar.
When an employee is scheduled to attend training, encourage their manager to treat the training time with the same level of importance as any other business meeting. Create a policy if you can.
• Run a session for managers.
Prior to the employee’s training, run a session with his or her manager to outline what the employee will learn and explain how the manager can be supportive. This will help create buy-in.
• Tie training to competencies.
Offer training courses linked to areas for development. As you approach yearly performance reviews, give managers a listing of courses tied to competencies. This will help them get involved in the employee’s professional development.
• Link training to company goals.
Offer workshops that support the focus of the organization. This helps you gain support from leadership.
What advice do you have to sustain learning in adults?
About the Author
Karen Rodriguez is a passionate marketer, designer, and communicator. With over 15 years of experience, Karen manages Exec|Comm’s global brand including their online presence, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events. She manages the firm’s blog, The Chat, and lunch & learn series, The Learning Exchange as well as the delivery and expansion of Exec|Comm’s open-enrollment seminars in Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose. Karen holds a BFA from Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City. She lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.