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Informal Learning: Accidental vs. Intentional
Social or informal learning is effective, but has limits. Including mentoring and other intentional learning models can help ensure employee development is comprehensive and complete.
Whether it occurs during a formal training session, through an impromptu meeting with team members or in a casual conversation with a colleague, learning happens. Both formal and informal learning bring value to employees and help organizations spread critical knowledge to the workforce.
“Experts have estimated that information is doubling every two years, and this wealth of information leads to increasing complexity in finding the right information or knowledge,” said Karie Willyerd, co-author of The 2020 Workplace. “If you join forces with others through social networks, you’re more likely to find what you need with a little help from your friends.”
Learning With Intent
Leveraging friends and peers for information is what modern mentoring networks are all about. In these networks, informal learning needs are formalized through intentional learning connections. For example, an employee who needs to learn how to upsell an idea to management could tap into a modern mentoring network — ideally anywhere from five to 15 advisers from various functions in the organization — and learn techniques from people who have firsthand experience, which can then be applied directly to the employee’s situation and job. This intentional and focused approach is significantly different from the accidental learning that occurs in social networking, where random occurrences of learning may pop up, but they are not tied directly to on-the-job application.
Financial services provider State Street Corp. assessed the ease and comfort of using social networking for learning against employees’ need to reflect on what they learned and apply it on the job. “The advent of social networking and instant information streams such as Twitter has become an exciting opportunity to engage employees by supplying them quick information,” said Maribeth Nash, chief talent officer at State Street. “However, we have to be mindful to not rely too much on social networking tools, because often change is made and learning is embedded when it is reflective.
“That is why we believe in providing our employees a mix of traditional learning experiences and robust development that centers on reflective practice. This includes coaching, mentoring and formal education experiences.”
Microlearning — Size DOES Matter
June 20th 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
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