How To Help Your People Master Any Subject On The Job
The notion of “life-long” learning continues to be at the forefront of the discussion of the modern world of work. Being able to absorb new material all the time seems to be a necessity in an ever-changing world. The job a person has today, the argument goes, probably won’t be the one that they have tomorrow.
As HR professionals, this idea is directly relevant to what we do. We’re continually trying to get the most out of our human resources, and education is the primary tool for doing so.
While HR departments have become very good at managing payroll and figuring out vacation schedules, they’re less adept at education. HR departments should be facilitators of the process that builds human capital. And they should understand what it takes to help their employees master any subject while on the job.
Take a look at the following methods that you can use to help employees master any subject on the job.
Find Courseware That Respects Their Time
Your people don’t have all the time in the world. Their jobs make that a certainty. While it might be true that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything, it’s a plain fact that the people who work in your organization don’t have this kind of time to spend on anything. The needs of your customers and business are overwhelming.
It’s vital, therefore, that you find courses and instructors who can offer accelerated programs. What’s more, your employees want that too.
They don’t want to have to dedicate all their evenings and weekends to learning forever. Their goal is to imbibe useful information as fast as possible, gain the knowledge, and then put it to use in a way that benefits them.
Not all fast-track courses are created equal, of course, but they’re a start. With an accelerated approach, you show your employees that you value their time.
Coach Employees On The Process Of Learning
While most HR departments will dump employees into a course and tell them to get on with it, this isn’t the best approach. The problem is that the majority of people in your organization aren’t masters of the learning process itself. They don’t understand what a good learning strategy is, and what isn’t.
Taking SAT practice tests is a good learning strategy, for instance, because it reveals where a student has made mistakes. Reading bullet point notes is not a good learning strategy because it’s about memorization, not understanding.
What do great learning strategies look like?
First, a good learning strategy sets out the knowledge that the person is trying to acquire. Before embarking on a course, employees should have a sense of what they’ll be able to do once it’s done.
Most courses pay lip-service to what they call “outcomes.”
Usually, these outcomes are scribbled somewhere on a prospectus and read something like “candidates will be able to utilize financial data to create cash flow statements.” While these learning outcomes are precise and accurate, they’re not always emotionally real to employees.
Employees must have a genuine sense of what they’ll be able to do with the education, once they’ve done the hard work.
Good learning strategies are also proactive.
Nobody learns to cook using recipe books: they learn to cook by doing it. There’s so much more that goes into creating a delicious meal than measuring out ingredients and robotically adding them to a pan. The same is true of most subjects.
Reading about them is fine to start, but doing them is the most important thing. Any course you choose, therefore, should contain some practical elements. Employees need to physically get to grips with whatever subject they want to learn.
Finally, great learning strategies build strong foundations. There’s a tendency in education to brush past the basics and move straight to the more complex topics. This strategy, however, is somewhat akin to building a house on the sand. While the house above might have the most incredible features, the shaky foundations put the whole thing at risk. Moving too fast can, therefore, be a problem. The best courses are those which emphasize the need for mastery at each stage. Keep your eyes peeled for these.
Give Them Great Reasons For Learning
Companies aren’t always great at giving employees great reasons for learning. Typically, the courses that employees do are designed to benefit the company. They’re not always couched in terms of what the individual worker gets out of it.
As an HR department, it’s vital to sell education to employees, not just for morale, but to make the education process itself effective. Psychologists have known for years that people need a strong motivation to learn. Learning is an energy-intensive and effort-full process.
The brain is primed for learning, but it usually only wants to do it if it believes that there’s a genuine reason for doing so. It won’t willingly expend the effort otherwise.
Your job as an HR department is to get people in your organization fired up about the opportunities in education and what they stand to learn. Training can be fun, enjoyable, and personally rewarding once complete. The people in your care can become more productive and more valuable. And they can be doing it entirely for their own goals.
Create Desire In Employees To Learn
We learn from an early age that education is something that requires extreme willpower.
You need to force yourself to study or revise if you want to do well on end-of-year exams. But that’s not the way that it has to be.
The most brilliant subject masters in history mostly learned about their fields because of desire. Something about what they were learning fascinated them and provided the impetus to continue the pursuit.
In the business world, the same holds. Those who go on to have the most successful careers are those who desire more considerable knowledge and learning about their particular field. Wanting something is a much stronger and sustainable motivating factor than merely willing it to be the case.
© New To HR