In our last post, we discussed the importance of social learning and its benefits for employee learning and development. We also covered how to get employees interested in social learning, and explained why it’s so important to leverage your employees as well as enlist the support of internal experts to make a social learning program work.
Now, we’ll go deeper and explore some areas where organizations can directly apply the social learning.
Presentations and sharing knowledge:
Allow employees to present on any topic they’re comfortable with. Instead of formally asking people to present, encourage employees to share their expertise with their co-workers much in the same way people already share information on social networks, such as LinkedIn. Sharing has become so normal and commonplace these days, that far from thinking it a chore, many employees will relish the opportunity to gain recognition among their peers and superiors, which could potentially earn them a promotion or a raise.
New Hire Training:
No two roles in an organization are exactly the same. Each role has its own unique quirks and nuances. So, instead of creating a generic training program for each role, a more efficient approach is to have employees already experienced in a particular role create their own training courses. Employees who know the lay of the land are best equipped to help new employees navigate subtle twists and turns. Having them create and teach the training courses is far more effective than subjecting new hires to formulaic, cookie-cutter training classes.
Have employees who possess an area of expertise mentor other employees. Mentors can educate their fellow employees in specificities of the product, the industry knowledge, or provide advice such as work-life balance tips. Not only will employees benefit from the mentorship of their peers, but employers will have a chance to see if a particular mentor is management material, having what it takes to rise through the ranks of the organization. Mentorship can simply mean appointing a senior employee to assist a newer hire whenever the newer hire gets stuck, or it can take a more comprehensive form, such as job shadowing, which constitutes a more hands-on approach.
Management and Leadership Development:
One area where social learning can be applied successfully is in management training or leadership development. Previously, most internal leadership development courses have consisted of lectures about leadership philosophy and methodology. While these generic classes — usually created by the HR department — cover most of what is needed, some subtle nuances are invariably missed or glossed over. Therefore, it would be far more helpful for employees to learn directly from an internal leadership coach or someone who is already experienced in a leadership role within the organization.
Social learning empowers employees to own their professional development. The old way of creating a learning and development program from the top-down is not only inefficient, but it’s ineffective, and it forces employees to play only a passive role. This ensures that learning and development will always be seen as an “extra” chore reserved for whenever there isn’t any work to do (which we all know is never). It also makes employees feel as if growing in their careers is something that only benefits their employers rather than themselves.
Social learning gets each of your employees involved at all levels of the organization, facilitates better internal communication, and allows employees to be self-sufficient in growing their knowledge and skill-set. This saves organizations a great deal of time, energy, and expenses needed to train their people.
So, get social and let the learning begin!