Sunday, April 20, 2008

Work at Learning/Learning at Work


We have all heard this quote “The growth of an organization is the derivative of growth of each individual”. So, how do you think individuals grow in an organization? Individuals grow when they learn on the job; get trained on new aspects of their work. In this process, they gain experience that helps them grow.

In that sense, there is some amount of learning that comes naturally to everyone in working in an organization. This learning comes out of working day-in and day-out on various projects, dealing with difficult work situations, working under pressure, communicating with peers and other teams and so on. However, do you think individuals require more than this to learn?

The answer is obviously, yes! Individuals get into an organization and start working; however, over a period of time, it is essential that they hone their skills further, know newer and better ways of how they work, learn newer things, improve their productivity, and so on.

The question is how do individuals go about this kind of learning?

Part answer to this question is “Training” – Training is something that is a part of most organizations employee development path. There is a ‘Training Calendar’ that the organization rolls out based on its employee’s needs and requirement for the training. The employees who attend such trainings learn something new in the process. Whether or not the training brings in the desired impact remains a question most of the time. Organizations struggle to find the ROI for a lot of trainings that they conduct. In addition, there is a limit to which an organization will invest in training. In this ever changing world, there are still things newer things to know, to learn, and understand better.

So, how does one learn?

There are a few questions that come to my mind when I think of learning: Do organizations promote learning? Are the individuals themselves inclined to learn apart from the training they get? Do they get sufficient time from their work schedules to learn new things?

I would try and answer what I know from my experience in the industry so far.

I don’t think that any organization discourages the environment for learning. Yes, there may not be a formal way that the organization has introduced to encourage learning, but most of us find out ways to learn because as individuals we all want to learn and grow – that’s our innate desire. If we talk about time and work pressure, I would say, however busy we may remain, we still get a percent of time we really can invest on our own learning rather than idling away our time.

There is so much around the environment we stay in, that there is a bleak chance that we miss out on the learning sources that inherently exist around us. Some of these that I use or think can be used include:
  1. The Internet: Yes, the Internet could serve as a wonderful source of information and learning if used correctly.
  2. Peer-to-Peer Connection: Talking to peers really does help – sharing project experiences, finding out solutions to the common problems most people face, discussing about new things members of a team may have come across - there could be much more than this.
  3. Organization’s Knowledgebase: I think this is one of the least used and underrated source of learning. But, if you look at an organization’s knowledgebase (in our case – Tecknowpark) you would find there is ample of things to learn from – be it white papers, work related documents, presentations – there is umpteen material there that an individual can learn from.
  4. Repository of Existing Courses/Products: This is yet another way to learn from what people in other projects have done - what are the different ways in which courses have been designed, what new instructional strategies have been used, etc. It is always a delight to see and learn from – the courses that the other project teams in your own organization have created.
  5. Online Trainings: So, if want to learn some specific skill such as communicating better within teams or learning a new skill, for which an online course exist (in our case – eseed), why don’t you simply register yourself online and get started? Another good source of learning!
  6. Blogs: This is the latest entry to my list. Since the time I have started accessing our blog site, ecube, I think I have learnt something new every time I visited it – be it from the blog posts of other people, comments that the people left, suggested reading, or the blog roles of other colleagues – all of them made an interesting read and something I could learn from.

I think individuals should exploit such learning sources (and/or others) more and more in order learn and grow!

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