Whether an organization's learning and development objectives are focused on increasing their leaders' business acumen or teaching managers project management fundamentals, there is one factor that reigns above the rest. Without this ingredient, a large percentage of learners will struggle to absorb, retain, and/or implement their newfound knowledge. So, what is this essential learning and development element? Humans.
The thought-provoking conversations that result from face-to-face interactions can’t be planned, scripted, or even quantified. The value of these moments can have an impact that reaches beyond the classroom. Below we’ll examine how three crucial areas are affected by the human element.
Faced with a large amount of new information, separating and distinguishing what knowledge is important is challenging. Left unguided, an individual’s attempts to qualify and prioritize this information can result in learning outcomes that are far-removed from the program’s intended objectives.
The constant feedback and course correction provided by real-time questions and in-depth conversations reinforce the structure of any curriculum. Furthermore, questions and conversation add a layer of flexibility to the learning environment that allows the content to adjust to the learner’s needs.
An adaptive learning environment, that prioritizes knowledge absorption, is served best by thoughtful human interaction.
Much like challenges of knowledge absorption, the struggles associated with knowledge retention are best combatted by open discourse.
According to Linda Argote in her book, Organizational Learning: Creating, Retaining and Transferring Knowledge, given that most knowledge development and transfer activities occur in teams, the retention of this knowledge is also more likely to occur in teams. Although a team can be defined as any group of people working towards a common goal, Argote makes an important distinction. These teams are comprised of individuals that work together on a regular, if not daily basis.
The team-effort approach to knowledge retention addresses the fact that not every learner will absorb and retain every piece of new information. Spreading this workload among a group of colleagues creates a support system for these knowledge gains to stay alive.
By training teams of individuals that regularly work together, those individuals are able to hold each other accountable for implementing their collective knowledge. This framework of collective knowledge – that is built on engaging conversation and collaborative learning – continues to facilitate the transfer of information to new hires and seasoned employees alike.
Every learning and development design team should consider how the human element influences their initiative’s learning objectives and the potential outcomes. The targeted audience composition, training mode, and even sustainability efforts can be leveraged to make the most of every organization’s strongest asset: its people.
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