It strikes me as weird to have to say this but if you’re not actively learning something new in your work day, no matter how small, then how on earth are you surviving the mind numbing work day?
This could mean:
- A tip a co-worker shared about streamlining a process that helps minimise some time or effort on your part
- Something someone mentions about a change in a procedure that will help you in your work
- A change in someone’s behaviour that has made you reflect about how you can do the same because it’s made work easier for them
- A story shared from a colleague when they attended an event, a conference or a meeting with someone else in the company that inspired a new idea for you
- Reading about what others are doing across your organisation in an enterprise social network like Yammer that triggered a new change in how you used a tool
- An ‘a ha’ moment when your colleague shows you something in a work platform like Microsoft Teams that will help save you time searching for team conversations or documents
- And there’s so many more instances….
The thing is though, how much do we ACTIVELY think of our workplace as THE experience to learn and develop from?
Probably very little.
Sometimes we assume that to learn, we need to GO somewhere.
- Attend an internal or external training course
- Go to a national or international conference
- Be selected to be part of the key talent or high performance group
- Be asked to be part of the project team working on a new product, innovation or idea.
We may not be aware that LEARNING HAPPENS IN THE WORK THROUGH THE WORK ANYTIME, ANYWHERE AND ANYHOW and it’s up to us to make these instances VISIBLE, CONTEXTUAL TO OUR NEEDS and SHARED TO OTHERS.
Sometimes, we assume that to learn, we need to SPEND money.
- Have our employer pay for us to attend an external course or program
- Put our own hand in our pocket to pay for professional or work courses that our employer should be paying for (let’s face it, we all think this way)
- That professional learning and development for ourselves is expensive and requires a longer investment of time – which we don’t have.
We may not be aware that LEARNING IS FREE.
THERE ARE A VARIETY OF RESOURCES, TOOLS, CONTENT, CONVERSATIONS, PEOPLE, NETWORKS AND AN ENTIRE WORLD THAT IS OPEN TO US NOW and it’s up to us USE, FILTER, ENGAGE, CONTRIBUTE, CONNECT, CREATE AND BUILD upon it.
Through doing this, we are creating “personal learning networks” around OUR ENVIRONMENT that help support our professional and personal development that is NOT driven, forced or mandated by the organisation and it’s teams like the Change Management, IT or Learning Development teams but it is INSPIRED by your own actions – your own mind and heart.
So use the environment that you spend 40 hours a week as ‘the classroom’ (if I can use that word) however, your colleagues and the networks and communities ARE YOUR TEACHERS.
NOT IT, not Change, not L&D.
YOU drive your own learning – using your workplace (the tools, the platforms, the resources, the people) as the EXPERIENCE TO LEARN FROM and which will then help support how your work; why you work in the way you do. Change management can come and go; Learning and Development’s Learning Management Systems can come and go – these will then NOT affect you because you’re not waiting around to be told or to be changed by someone.
It means YOU have to start to BE THE CHANGE first and it means facing up to some home truths first:
- Are you the person who waits for others to determine what you should learn in your work?
- Do you cover up your own helplessness with new technology and tools by finding fault with management or departments like IT, or L&D that they haven’t provided “adequate training”?
- Do you find excuses “it’s the way I’ve always worked so why change now?” “I’ll change when my manager changes”, “I’ll use that tool when I’m forced on it and there’s no other option”.
- Do you claim that it is another department’s responsibility for helping you change, adopt new technologies or learn new processes when you have no intention of changing your behaviours because it’s always worked for you?
- Do you think that learning must always be backed up with a formal accreditation such as a certificate, a pay rise or a promotion?
If these questions are are throwing up some guilt, then it may be time to think about what are you actually in work for?
Are you missing a potential opportunity to develop a new career, capability, a skill or be involved in an experience with this type of thinking?
“Work is learning, learning is work” as Harold Jarche (@hjarche) says on his blog.
Through work, you have a microcosm of opportunities that will help you work, learn and connect if you can see these when they arise, reflect and act upon them.
Don’t wait for the organisation, departments or its management tell you how to do this because trust me, they’re figuring it for out for themselves too.