Managers Should Play a Bigger Role in Workplace Learning

Managers Should Play a Bigger Role in Workplace LearningAlmost all organizations are ready to invest in employee training and if they aren’t, employees will certainly demand training. The expenses, mostly course fees, trips, accommodation and lost billable hours, will pay themselves back with increased employee satisfaction and more productive work. Therefore it’s strange that only a few organizations measure what has been learned and how it is applied to work. Organizations rarely manage learning in an active manner.

Too many training programs still consist of just mere training events, but there is an increasing amount of courses, which require preparation before the course and independent training after the course, for instance, in a web-based learning environment. However, this is not enough. Often it can be difficult for the employee to put the skills and knowledge learned into practice and understand how the learnings can be applied to one’s own work. This is where we need the manager to manage learning.

According to research,

  • 55 % of employees listed lack of training implementation as a weakness of most managers.
  • Employees will make a 57 % greater discretionary effort if they are engaged with management and continuously learning.
  • When sales managers are used to reinforce sales training, retention is increased by up to 63 percent.

In other words, managers should participate in their employees learning process and lead it, so that the skills and knowledge can be put to use. In order for this to happen, there are three problems we need to solve:

1. How can we forget the old habits?
2. How can we better remember the things we’ve learned?
3. How can we put the learnings into practice?

Janne introduced a couple of ways to handle the first problem in his latest blog post. A habit is comprised of three parts: the cue, the routine and the reward. To get rid of an old habit, you need to understand and become aware of these three elements and try to make changes to them.

In my previous blog post, I already stated that repetition is a very important part of learning, because it helps you to remember the things you’ve learned. Without repetition, you will quickly forget. With his own actions manager can help and ensure that the employee remembers the significance of repetition. By setting up goals for learning, we can make sure that the person will focus on the right things during the training and can apply the learning to his own work and achieve the set goals.

Manager’s role is crucial when it comes to putting learning into practice. If he doesn’t have the time to sit down with the employees and discuss about the work, there are other possibilities as well. Manager can organize peer groups in which the employees will reflect on their learnings and get support from colleagues. The discussion in peer groups is likely to flow more freely than with a face-to-face meeting with the manager. The third option is to set two employees to work together. This way they can both learn from each other. This is particularly efficient if the employees share a different skill set.

Learning should not be limited to training events; it should be the managers’ responsibility to design and develop the learning process as a whole. When the manager has a vision of what skills and knowledge his team needs, he can lead the employees to put the learning into practice.

Gamification in Action – Talks Worth Sharing, Part 2

In March, we published a collection of gamification talks from YouTube to help you out on the beginning of your gamification journey. Now that you know the basics: how does gamification work in action? Check out the following videos and get inspired!

Jon Guerrera – Gamification as a Tool for Achieving More

Jon Guerrera tells how he gamified his toughest goals, and how you can build your own gamification system from scratch with as little as a pen and paper. You don’t necessarily need a mobile app to increase your personal productivity – just start with post-it notes!

Khan Academy and Gamification: Making Learning Fun

Rishi Desai discusses how the Khan Academy, a free online classroom, is using gamification to engage and motivate learners. A set of simple game mechanics can have big effects if used the right way.

Minute Hacks: The Gamification of Fitness

Tired of feeling inadequate compared to your ripped and toned trainer at the gym? Not self-motivated enough to actually stay on the treadmill longer than three and half minutes? Gamified fitness apps are hugely popular and this Hack College video showcases a couple good ones.

Coke Zero Marketing Campaign: Unlock the 007 in you!

Coke Zero challenged unsuspecting train passengers to unlock the 007 in them for their chance to win exclusive tickets for the James Bond movie SKYFALL in 2012. However, the exclusive tickets weren’t free. People had to go the extra mile and unlock their inner 007 in less than 70 seconds to win.

Repetition Is the Mother of Learning

Repetition is the mother of learningWhen we’re putting my teachings into practice at my trainings, many people tend to ask for advice on things I just taught them. This usually makes me wonder, did the learner listen to what I just said, because it should be impossible to forget that fast, right? However, according to Ebbinghaus’s definition of the forgetting curve almost 60 percent of newly learned things are forgotten during the first hour.

If learnings are not repeated or recollected, they will be forgotten. If you repeat the learnings every few days and brush up your skills first one month and then three months after the initial training session, you will memorize the learnings much better. Five repetitions will make sure the learnings stick in your mind. Of course it takes time and money to organize multiple trainings instead of one, but it’s an investment worth making.

Whenever possible I try to use the principles of the 70:20:10 theory in my trainings. I’ve also tried to speak about the significance of repetition to my clients, but it hasn’t always borne fruit. Obviously this feels odd taking into account the forgetting curve: we’re ready to invest in trainings but not in maintaining the obtained level.

Forgetting Curve

Forgetting Curve by Hermann Ebbinghaus

I was extremely satisfied, when I was offered the chance to train a two-day course that had the first training day in May and the second in August. Between the course dates there was plenty of time for independent training (and forgetting). I used the same method in trainings I had in late August and early September.

We used half of the second training day to repeat previously learned things, and based on the experiences the method really works! I got loads of positive feedback and I also noticed the difference in the participants. The pace was just right, there weren’t too many new things the participants would had to adopt, and a lot of time had been reserved for the hands-on training. In a matter of fact, the training was so successful that we talked about having yet another similar training session later this fall.

HRD departments should pay more attention to repetition in enterprise learning. Having multiple training sessions is one solution, but you can also use various digital tools that make it easy to repeat the previously learned. For instance, our Habit coaching and eLearning tool allows you to build a training program that can last for weeks or months. The learner does tasks, studies materials, answers questions and continuously reflects on all the things he has so far learned on the course.

You can try it out yourself! Fill in you e-mail address below and I will give you FREE access to one of my OneNote trainings.

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There’s Much More to Learning Than Classes and Lectures

There's Much More to Learning Than ClassroomsI sometimes surprise even myself when I realize, how much I can still learn about teaching and learning – even though I have gained teaching experience for over ten years! After my relaxing summer holiday I happened to come across the 70:20:10 model for learning and I can surely agree on the idea:

  • 10 % of knowledge is gained from formal learning and teaching (e.g. courses and seminars).
  • 20 % of knowledge is gained from social learning: when you learn from your colleagues and boss, discuss, ask questions, chat, or someone shows you how something is done.
  • 70 % of knowledge is gained by doing; that is when you keep on hitting your head to the wall and learn from your own mistakes.

So only 10 % of knowledge can be achieved by attending courses and lectures. For example, you can book me to teach you the basics of Microsoft SharePoint or Dynamics CRM. The model can be applied during the course: the trainer in front of the class talks you through 10 % of things, 20 % of the time is spent on discussion and sharing tips, and, regarding learning results, the most important part of the whole course is the hard work with exercises. Sadly it seems that too often the clients want to have as much teaching as possible and the time to do exercises is narrowed down. This means that the learning results will not be that strong.

This model should be taken into consideration when organizations plan their own trainings. Many organizations have a formal training plan that is used to manage the previously mentioned 10 % of learning. Most training plans don’t go further than this. How can you even manage what is learned in social interactions or when banging your head to the wall? You probably can’t, but it would be crazy to ignore 90 % of learning potential.

You will never achieve a self-learning organization, if you just keep pushing information to people. In a self-learning organization people start to gather information and solve problems themselves. You can lead the learning of organization by creating an environment where people have an opportunity to share knowledge, discuss, learn from other people’s experience and so on. You can gamify learning, information gathering and social interaction in order to motivate the employees to learn, and use, for instance, the Habit platform we’ve developed. It guides people to do and learn the right things, share their experience and knowledge with others, as well as discuss and comment.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing”, says a business management book. How can you lead your own learning by example? Employees can often feel that only their managers (or the key personnel in organization) attend conferences and courses, and they feel left out, because they are not offered the same opportunities. However, managers actively discuss with their experts and they are the first ones to solve difficult problems. This work is not scheduled in their calendars, because the work is mainly done during unofficial coffee breaks or after work drinks. Habit makes this unofficial work transparent by using tasks and questions that encourage the whole organization to deepen its knowledge.

Games Can Help You Learn

Polly Polynomial teached polynomials for pupils.

Welcome to study polynomials, says Polly Polynomial.

I had my first experience with gamified education during my study time. As a practical course work, we compiled a game for math teaching together with my classmate. In the game a parrot named Polly taught the players polynomials. Simple and changing tasks intensified learning and the game ended in a brief test. If the player was skillful, the tasks became more and more challenging. I’ve used the game later in real-life teaching when I was working as a math teacher in elementary school.

Adults taking part in children’s lives should familiarize themselves better with the world of games and the content Internet has to offer. My godson visited us this winter and we heard that he still hadn’t learned the names of the months. One morning we dug up a simple gamified application from the Internet that helped him to memorize the months. Provably he remembered the months next morning! The same godson and my partner’s goddaughter have also studied programming with the help of Angry Birds, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. During the Hour of Code they learned the basics of programming in a fun way through play and trial. At the same time their English language skills improved.

There are plenty of international examples of how games and game-like elements can be used in education. Two educational games I remember exceptionally well: Duolingo and the World Peace Game. In Duolingo, anyone can learn new languages by translating sentences picked from different webpages. The service is free of charge and you can really feel that you’re learning something meaningful, because the translated sentences are taken from existing webpages. The World Peace Game, in turn, is a huge board game developed by an American teacher John Hunter. The game teaches student groups to live and work together and solve problems in the world. Unfortunately the board game can’t be bought anywhere yet, but there might be a virtual version in the making.

The amount of educational games is huge nowadays. There are little Java applets, many school book series include DVDs and many others. When I was teaching in the elementary school, I for example used platform games to teach mathematics. Yet, I don’t see that these kinds of entertaining educational games could be of much use in the hectic working life. You don’t have much time to play during a busy working day, so learning should be easy, fast and efficient, but you shouldn’t forget the fun. However, game elements can be used in workplace to intensify learning experience in training and coaching. What would you think about a board game designed for strategy implementation? Or about a virtual learning environment that guides the learner and gives instant feedback? Even incidental exercise can be gamified: a Finnish training and consulting company Tieturi (article available only in Finnish) encourages employees to use stairs instead of the elevator by using a simple yet effective game.

How can you use games and gamification in your workplace? Share your thoughts below!