“If we are not keeping our L&D content up to date we are depreciating ourselves and our companies”.
Mathew J. Painter makes this observation in his article of 28th March 2019 in the Chief Learning Officer.
It’s an article that resonated with me because it raised the question of how we can all become lifelong learners, and the role that leaders should have in creating a continuous learning culture.
Action learning is mentioned as a potential strategy, and it is one that our clients use to achieve many different outcomes, including lasting behavioural change for leaders and teams.
Leadership means identifying individual needs
What’s relevant today in terms of traditional professional development may not be relevant tomorrow. Investment in developing staff works best when it is targeted at the individual needs of each person, rather than attempting a one size fits all approach.
Everyone has different levels of knowledge, experience, resilience, motivation and acumen; and everyone has challenges that are unique to them in their role. Only by approaching development at an individual level can we give them the learning experience that truly aligns with their needs.
The Chief Learning Officer article goes on to observe: “We should be approaching our education and learning as a means of training our minds to think”. If we develop staff to become critical thinkers, to adapt to their environments, they will be able to act more effectively on the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Action learning is entirely centred on the learning needs of the individual. By giving them the time, space, confidence and attention they need to divulge and explore their professional challenges, they are able to train their minds to think, reflect, consider and arrive at actions that they own, and feel confident to carry out. They develop the skills of reflective practice and critical thinking.
Creating a culture of continuous learning
Change happens at a pace that most of us struggle to keep up with. We need to empower each person within an organisation so they are on a path of continual transformation – they become life long learners keeping up with or ahead of the pace of change.
If we refine the capabilities of each individual so that they can fulfil their role to the best of their abilities, both personal and business performance will be aligned. Investment in continuous personal development is essential for an organisation if it is to realise the true potential of its people.
Keeping it real
The work of action learning is directly related to real work issues that are present at the time. It is not theoretical; it is experiential, and directly relevant so more readily absorbed. It’s outcome focused, so learners are expected to act on their decisions and can be held to account for action by their peers in the follow up sessions. It develops and practices skills that improve resourcefulness and change behaviour, embedding a life long learning approach to daily tasks and challenges.
Implementing a culture of continuous learning from leaders through to teams releases real potential for a notable shift in individual and collective performance. It’s what’s needed in today’s ever changing world where retention and development of talent delivers significant benefits and a competitive advantage to an organisation.
As Action Learning founder Reg Revans once said:
“There can be no learning without action and no action without learning”.
Webinar: Why a culture of continuous learning matters
21st May 2.30pm – 3.15pm BST.
This webinar has taken place, click here to view a recording.
Hosted by Sonja Antell, we find out how action learning effectively embeds life long learning skills into the daily interactions of your people.
Following an introduction to the merits of adopting a learning culture the webinar follows our popular interactive format with questions from participants which Sonja will answer.