Here is an excerpt from an article written by Beth Davies, Connor Diemand-Yauman, and Nick van Dam for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out others, learn more about the firm, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.
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Learn about learning
Many companies approach learning and development (L&D) much as they did 30 years ago. That is, they rely on classrooms for training and take a one-size-fits-all approach. It shouldn’t be this way. Organizations should take advantage of the solid research, grounded in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and pedagogy, about what works in learning in general and adult learning in particular. For example:
- Studies show that relationships help learning by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. Study groups can therefore help people process new ideas and learn more than when they work alone.
- Training courses are most effective when they are tailored for specific roles and at identifiable career inflection points, as opposed to being offered episodically, according to the calendar, or when HR secures resources for new learning initiatives.
- Microlearning—presenting information in short, 15- to 30-minute bursts—is more effective than longer sessions. Companies can experiment with digital technologies such as virtual or augmented reality to take advantage of this. They can also explore other digital options, such as self-directed online learning and artificial intelligence, to make the provision of training more flexible.
- Big data can help customize and measure learning experiences. Few L&D departments have invested in data analytics the way other departments have. Marketers, for example, know what time of day people open their messages most frequently, how long they engage, and what methods capture them most. L&D courses and programs should be no different.
What doesn’t work? Avoid terms such as “remedial,” which imply the learner is broken in some way. Research indicates that fear or risk of failure can shut down neural pathways crucial to learning. Similarly, organizations should be thoughtful about the use of assessments: tests can be stressful and may contribute to people dropping out. The best learning environments support employees—and don’t stress them out.
Finally, senior executives will play a major role in a company’s attitude toward learning. They can start making the case for lifelong employability by sharing what they know about the changing work and economic landscape. A first principle of learning is that people learn what they want to learn. Leaders, therefore, need to communicate the imperative to inspire employees toward a mind-set of continuous skill improvement. As is so often the case, inspiration starts at the top: leaders need to be role models and show that they value learning themselves.
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Here is a directlink to the complete article.
Beth Davies is the founder and principal consultant of HR Reimagined. Connor Diemand-Yauman is the cofounder and CEO of Philanthropy University. Nick van Dam is an alumnus of McKinsey’s Amsterdam office and a senior adviser to the firm; a professor at IE University and at the University of Pennsylvania; and the editor of Elevating Learning & Development: Insights and Practical Guidance from the Field.
The authors are members of the Consortium for Advancing Adult Learning & Development (CAALD), convened by McKinsey & Company, whose members include researchers, corporate and nonprofit leaders, and McKinsey experts.