Albert Einstein said, "Any fool can know. The point is to understand." When real learning takes place, it's more than just gaining knowledge. It's about being able to understand and apply what you've learned.
We all attend school during our childhood, and the sole purpose is to learn and grow. However, as we settle into our careers and our lives become busier, the passion (and time) to learn can feel as if it's slowly dwindling. Learning is imperative in the workplace to keep people from becoming complacent or bored, or from falling behind in their industry. And we can learn through additional training, attending conferences or networking events, and even team-building meetings - the opportunities are endless. But discovering the best way to balance work, life and learning is difficult, which leads us to wonder: is learning in the workplace fact or fantasy?
During our latest #MTtalk tweet chat, held on Friday (May 13, 2016), we wanted to know how our participants experience workplace learning: is it fact or fantasy to them? Here are the questions we asked them during a busy hour of discussion, and some of their responses.
Question 1: What does "workplace learning" mean to you?
@hrsanjaynegi: Learn, unlearn and re-learn.
@ZalkaB: The opposite of keeping info, skills and knowledge to yourself because you think you are irreplaceable because of it.
Question 2: Is workplace learning a fact or a fantasy to you? Why?
@SistadaHealer: It's a much needed fact to me, but there are managers who think it's a fantasy and don't invest in their employees.
@KrisGiere: Formally it's a mirage. Many organizations regulate learning, instead of fostering growth. Individually it's a choice to learn.
Question 3: What constraints do you face when learning at work?
@Midgie_MT: Constraints when learning at work include time away from being 'productive' for the learning. Also, interruptions from colleagues.
@MicheleDD_MT: Not always time to schedule learning into the day. Managers don't always see it as a priority. Difficult to get funding for L&D.
Participants felt that although time is an issue, it's more often about planning and priorities than about not having enough time.
Question 4: How do you organize additional learning into your work schedule?
@NootsCaboots: I like to make the most of my breaks so if I have a spare moment, I'll use it to research courses or catch up on industry news.
@KrisGiere: I guerilla learn on my personal device like my phone. If I'm curious, I make time to learn it. The work will get done.
Many people work in virtual teams nowadays rather than in a traditional office setting.
Question 5: How has working in virtual teams affected how you learn at work?
@SayItForwardNow: Working in virtual teams often shifts the learning from in-person training to e-learning, offering more flexibility.
@SistadaHealer: It has helped me tremendously. I get to learn from others and find support from other like-minded individuals.
Question 6: Do you see a difference in value between skills-based, professional or personal development? Please explain.
@ZalkaB: A difference in value, no. It's all part of your growth that makes you more enriched, better, inspired.
@Dwyka_Consult: It probably depends on where you are in your career. It should be balanced; to me personal development is very important.
Question 7: What type of learning has benefited you most: soft skills or hard skills? Why?
@Liz: Getting a load of hard skills under my belt gave me a big boost in a new job - they were tangible and I knew I'd succeeded.
@harrisonia: That's tough! I love the hard skills that I have but being assertive is priceless and can take you far.
Because methods of learning have changed and increased since the advent of the Internet, we wanted to know the following:
Question 8: What method of workplace learning do you find most effective, eg online, workshops, self-directed etc. Why?
@amypen64: I am very much a self-directed learner. When I need to learn, I'll find it. Second would be online.
@NootsCaboots: I work better when I "learn by doing," so practical methods of learning like workshops usually work best for me.
Question 9: What would help you to put your learning into practice in your workplace?
@Limha75: If it feels relevant to me or if I've been shown the potential impact it can have.
@Yolande_MT: The willingness to learn and also to apply what I've learnt is a choice.
Question 10: How can you help develop more effective learning experiences for members of your team?
@A_Kirkland: Use varied learning modalities and create opportunities to apply learning immediately.
@LindaAspey: We can consider the whole learning and thinking environment we create, as important as the actual content.
Different situations call for different styles of leadership. "Exploring Leadership Styles" will be the topic of discussion for our next #MTtalk chat, on Friday, May 27, 2016, at 1pm EST (5pm GMT). We'd love you to join us on Twitter and share your experience with us.
To join the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Tap on 'All Tweets' and you'll be able to follow the chat feed live. To participate, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.
In the meantime, we're happy to share some more of our resources about workplace learning with you.
Mike Barzacchini explores what to do when you're feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired at work.
For many people, a basic pre-pandemic routine was eat, work, sleep, repeat! They were caught in a rat race, and their employers didn't really care. The goal was to produce, produce, produce!
Mind Tools coach Sarah Harvey asks what are the benefits and dangers of courage at work.