August 28 2014

Informal Learning at Work Part 3

Written by Lambda Solutions

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If you have not read part 1 and part 2 of our Informal Learning at Work series, I welcome you to catch yourself up so you can fully benefit from understanding how to measure informal learning activities that occur without any intervention from learning and development managers.

In Informal Learning at Work Part 1 we introduced what informal learning is and how it occurs in the workplace. Of all the informal learning activities that happen on a regular basis, researchers at the eLearning Guild discovered that these ones occur most frequently without any intervention from management:

informal learning

In Informal Learning at Work Part 2 we discussed ways for learning and development managers to support some of the informal learning activities listed above. In brief, here were our three suggestions for supporting collaboration, trial and error and reading professional journals:

  • Encouraging collaborative and collective decision making practices.
  • Rewarding employees who take risks and not punishing failure.
  • Purchasing organization related company journals/magazines.

Expanding on these support activities that learning and development managers can engage with, we would like to propose a few ideas for managing an measuring the aforementioned informal leaning activities.

Managing and Measuring Informal Learning Activities

Currently it is fairly uncommon for informal learning activities to be measured and evaluated in employee learning and development paths. It is especially uncommon to measure informal learning activities that occur without intervention from learning and development managers. Here are a few of our tips on how you can manage such activities with your talent management system:

  • Collaboration between Colleagues. While it is impossible for you to be constantly in the loop monitoring how employees are collaborating, the best feedback for how teammates are collaborating are from the employees themselves. One way to do this is to set up teammate feedback surveys in your talent management system. After large projects are completed, these surveys can be administered to teammates where either a score for collaboration can be provided or commentary on the employees’ collaboration can be given. It will also be beneficial to include a section for colleagues to thank and recognize fellow peers for particular areas they went above and beyond in. Not only will project follow up surveys such as these provide you will valuable feedback on individual employee collaboration capabilities, it will also increase team bonding and cohesion!
  • Trial and Error. It can be argued that trial and error is how we learn best. When we error, we revise and adjust to ensure an outcome we desire. But how can learning and development managers’ measure employee trial and error and the positive outcomes that result? Like we mentioned last week it is first and foremost important to create a culture where innovation and risk taking is rewarded. After this is achieved measuring trial and error can be achieved through personal progress reports. When talent sets out to create a new and innovative process, product or service—it is important the he or she first sets up a project timeline. Once this document is produced, it will be easier to determine points to check in with that employee. Trial and error can then be monitored based upon significant steps backwards and forwards that were taken to come to each milestone.
  • Reading professional journals and/or magazines. If there are particular journals or magazines that are important to workplace learning and development, sections or whole parts of them can be uploaded into your talent management system. Depending on the service and configuration support of your talent management system provider, this application can be easily included if you do not already have it. Once implemented it is easy to keep track of who's reading what and how much. Later down the road, once enough information is aggregated, you can even create sophisticated reports that highlight how reading journals/magazines contributes to productivity.

For more ideas on how your talent management system can help you measure and manage informal learning activities, contact our workplace learning experts.You can also check out our Webinar on Improving Employee Performance and Engagement. 

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