Pairing Formal with Informal Learning

Let’s face it- everyone learns and retains things differently. We learned about this fact during our school years and it still holds true in our professional careers. Some people learn at a faster rate than others. Some gain more from classroom teaching than hands-on training. The point is, one size does not fit all when it comes to learning and development and it would be wise for organizations to recognize this fact to ensure their training initiatives are more effective.

First off, get your formal learning in check. With technology advancing our ability to have more options to be trained, it’s important to remember that formal learning doesn’t have to require people to be trapped in a four walled room. Break down those walls and incorporate new ways to do formal training that goes beyond traditional classroom training. Personally, sitting through 8 hours of classroom lectures did not always help my understanding or retention (not to mention, my attention span). Break up the lectures with some additional learning opportunities. Maybe have your training classes go out in the field or interact/collaborate with people who already do this role within the organization. Let them see formal learning be put into action.

Secondly, it is important to remember that informal learning is necessary, too. Like stated earlier, people all have different learning styles so forcing them to only learn in a handful of ways might limit what they gain out of the experience. Breaking up your formal learning can only go so far so it’s up to you to encourage and empower employees to take initiative for their development. Give them suggestions on what they can do for their independent learning efforts. Let them interact with people in the industry so they can see how to put these trainings to good use. Allow them to join webinars or go to professional social networking groups. The learning world is their oyster.

I will tell you that I personally gained a lot from my informal learning. I often feel like the social media HR groups I’ve participated in (such as the Twitter chat, #Tchat) or the networking calls I had with people I’ve connected with have helped me gain so much more than majority of the training I’ve formally had from employers or schooling. Even researching topics and information to write the posts on my blog have helped me learn an extraordinary amount. I made it a point to ensure I was still learning even when in between jobs so once an employer took a chance on me, I could bring something extra to the table. Even after being employed, I still make the effort to regularly include informal training to accent the formal training I get from my employer. Some of my informal training has even sparked new ideas that will help us offer more to our clients and prospects. It’s even helped our internal team work more effectively.

As an employer, what are you doing to add more to your teaching and training? Have you ever considered informal learning as being a valuable option?

More Links:

Igniting Social Learning #Tchat Preview

Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap

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Social Media Uses for the HR Professional

I’ve always been interested in human resources but lately I’ve really been on a social media kick. Some of my Twitter and LinkedIn followers poke fun at me because it seems as if I’m posting all over the place. Although this is somewhat true, there is a reason why I’m becoming more present on social media sites. As I become increasingly involved in the discussions and chats, I’m learning more and more. There are so many wonderful people out there that are supportive, informative, and helpful. I appreciate everyone that I’ve connected with because they’ve exposed me to so many interesting things. This experience has really allowed me to see that there are more uses to social media than the typical stereotype.

A lot of people and companies feel that social media is a distraction and do not associate it with being useful in the workplace. Those people would be correct if they only used social media in the most general of forms. However, internal social media can also take a business to great heights if utilized properly. I recently researched and wrote a post about social media uses in the workplace that touched upon some of the effective ways to apply it.  One of the areas I mentioned was in regard to the ways that human resources can use it as a tool. Today, I’m going to dig deeper into this topic.

Human resources can use social media as:

  • As a performance management tool: Social media is a way to have information in one central location throughout the business-spectrum. It also can have customizable reporting to allow human resources and management to be able to gauge how the business is doing. Metric reporting and scorecards can compare employee output against organizational goals. This allows the business to determine how they are performing as a whole, departmentally, and can even score each individual employee. Human resources professionals can take the individual reports and use it for regular feedback and performance evaluations. This can also help HR and managers know what areas in training need to be improved and what tasks individual employees need additional mentoring on.
  • As a rewards and recognition tool: Social media allows collaboration throughout the organization. It also helps managers and HR to easily and openly see what employees are coming up with the creative/innovative solutions and which employees are truly putting in 110% contribution towards the organizational goals. With this information being accessible, HR professionals can reward employees accordingly, whether it is with monetary bonuses or even just recognition. It is becoming more apparent that employees appreciate the regular feedback that they can receive via social media. Additionally, employee engagement has increased due to the social media recognition programs that companies have implemented. Who would have known that simply saying, “thank you” would make that much of a difference?
  • As a training tool: The training aspect of human resources can really be brought to life via social media. HR can put up training tutorials, documents, SOPs, and videos for employees to easily reference. These training materials can be updated quickly as processes change. Employees can use it as a knowledge base and have easy access to these materials at all times. This can assist them in gaining the information and knowledge they need to complete duties accurately. It can also allow them to be more efficient because the information is instantly available, therefore, they do not have to rely on or wait for someone else to assist them. In addition to materials, social media can give employees the ability to connect with other individuals throughout the company and set up mentoring sessions.
  • As a promotion and/or internal mobility tool: Social media can keep a detailed, documented history. This means that all employees’ contributions, projects, and efforts throughout their employment are easily visible. When it comes time for an employee to ask for a raise or a promotion, this tool can allow human resources to review supporting documentation and decide whether or not the employee displayed characteristics worthy of a promotion or raise. This tool can aid recruiters and HR in seeing which employees show potential to do further things than just their current job and expected career path. This can benefit employees when they are attempting to prove that they’re capable of a lateral or upwards move in the company.

The more I research this topic, the more I get excited about it. Some of these uses can be more efficient than the combined practices and procedures HR have used in the past. If social media can be this valuable just in one department, think of how beneficial it can be for all departments. The possibilities that can arise for an organization are endless.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, please feel free to join the following chats on Twitter:

#SWChat held on Thursdays at 4PM EST

#HRtechChat held on Fridays at 2PM EST

#TChat held on Wednesdays at 7PM EST

Some interesting links:

The Social Revolution of Rewards and Recognition: http://www.thesocialworkplace.com/2011/09/23/the-social-revolution-of-rewards-and-recognition/

Social Media Performance Appraisal Process: http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/features/1073216/could-social-media-revolutionise-performance-appraisal-process

Social Media for Performance Management and Reporting: http://sustainablebusinessforum.com/joan-justice/58610/using-social-business-tools-increase-performance-management-and-reporting-sustain

Social Media Corporate Training: http://www.sayitsocial.com/