In The Learning & Development Book, authors Tricia Emerson and Mary Stewart set about a straightforward approach for developing meaningful learning objectives. They also discuss what is important to teach in the first place.
They boil down what to train into three categories: Skills that are critical to the success of the mission, procedures that are common like everyday must-dos, and those things that are catastrophic, potentially shutting down operations due to safety issues or client fallout (Emerson & Stewart, 2011).
These categories are a helpful way to parse learning and prioritize learning outcomes. What about the who? Who is responsible for learning in organizations? What kinds of benefits might result if individuals in an organization selected their learning goals and planned their staff development initiatives?
Business author and speaker, Jay Forte, observes three things that happen when employees take control of their learning. First, as they locate their own training materials, individuals discover material that is relevant to their needs and fits with their work context (as opposed to being presented with ideas that are watered down in an attempt to resonate with everyone present).
Second, when employees set their own learning goals, they enter into the process of assessing their learning and gauging their own performance. There is increased accountability.
Third, individuals can access the materials when it suits their schedule. Since they chose the source and channel for the information, they have access to the website, subscription, and printed materials when they need it. They are no longer locked into a regimented schedule that might disrupt the work day.
By equipping employees with a framework for learning what is critical, common, and catastrophic, they can begin setting meaningful learning goals that benefit the company mission. When given autonomy to discover helpful resources, people can take ownership of their learning and skill development and possibly enjoy accomplishment that might not be present in a more traditional one-to-many program.
Increased autonomy and accountability? Increased choice and engagement? Sounds like a win/win.
Emerson, T., Stewart, M. (2011). The learning & development book: change the way you think about L&D. East Peoria, IL: Versa Press, Inc.
Forte, J. (2012). Retrieved Feb. 28, 2015 from https://www.mindflash.com/blog/2012/05/let-employees-choose-their-own-training-materials/