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How can L&D balance learning with growing careers?

Man in business suit climbing steps

Human beings are like plants — they want to grow. They crave it. They want to get over the learning curve, master a subject, and then move on and conquer something new. If you don’t offer employees this trajectory, they’ll go somewhere that will.

Everyone needs room to fail, learn, and grow.

You can see this dynamic play out in many areas. In hedge fund manager Ray Dalio’s popular book and media initiative Principles, he often talks about this growth trajectory. The logo for the brand represents it: An arrow spiraling its way up and to the right. First, an employee moves toward mastering their subject. They encounter difficulty and often fail. From this failure, they recover, learn, and grow toward the next level. This cycle happens again and again, and it’s part of the natural evolution of humankind.

Similarly, a popular, peer-reviewed area of study in psychology is called Self-determination Theory. This theory posits that human beings need three things to be successful: Autonomy, relatedness, and mastery. That is, we need the latitude to direct ourselves in the direction we see fit. Without it, we become resentful and stagnant. Second, we need others to help us along in our journey, to encourage us, provide feedback, and support our development. This is why social learning is so important for L&D initiatives. Finally, we need the competence that comes with training and skills to give us a sense of accomplishment. Without it, we feel useless, meaningless, and complacent.

How can L&D help? Provide feedback and social learning.

Too often, training initiatives are one-and-done: You host an event, webinar, or workshop, and then employees are sent off to the wild blue yonder alone in the world to figure it out for themselves.

However, new technologies and new perspectives offer L&D teams the opportunity to come alongside employees as they’re applying what they learned in the training toward the real world. This helps reinforce the content and make it stick. Peers and managers can also help. By discussing what they learned on an ongoing basis, training and development becomes much more effective over time.

Relevance is key to learning.

One of the biggest criticisms against higher education is that it lacks relevance to the real world. You’ve likely had professors who spent their whole lives in academia rather than as a practitioner, and it often shows. Or you may have had professors who were leaders in their field and developed important principles — but they applied to a subject 20 or 30 years ago, not today.

Similarly, many trainings associated with tech skills, media, and everyday tools don’t apply anymore, even though the training occurred only two years ago. Things change fast. Employees also receive webinars or videos of trainings recorded three, five, or 10 years ago that show their age in the first five seconds, causing employees to tune out immediately.

To stay relevant, it’s crucial that learning content be created and distributed quickly. Quick course creation tools allow learning specialists to grab the latest article, YouTube video, or podcast, and embed them directly into the learning module at speed.

How can L&D help? Keep an eye out for today’s best media.

With quick course creation tools and embeddable content from innovative learning platforms, the world is your oyster. Almost anything you read, watch, or hear online can be immediately used for the next course.

This also gives a new perspective on the world around you. For example, pay attention to what your grown kids or friends may be talking about and learning, especially if it’s a developing subject matter or technology. Chances are, the very media from which they’re being taught can be added to the employee curriculum.

NextThought team

NextThought team

Our mission... To constantly explore innovative ways to rethink education. We engage learners, build community, and deliver value. We will always go above and beyond standard learning solutions, providing perfectly-tailored educational experiences for our clients and their audiences.

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