Hurdles to Effective Learning in Organizations

Hurdles to Effective Learning in Organizations

Effective learning of any kind—whether at school or the corporate level—requires an individual’s passion and zeal to learn. It is imperative to understand the importance of learning. Most of the time, people learn the things in life after finishing school or college, or what we call professional education.

Today, most learning is by personal experiences rather than the bookish knowledge we gain. It’s important to understand that what we learn today may not hold value 10 years down the line. Experiential learning is what holds the maximum importance these days. Learning at the corporate level has multiple reasons and chief among them are:

  • One may learn or upgrade his or her skills for increasing his or her competence at the workplace.
  • Increase in career prospects.
  • An employee can undergo training to feel at par with colleagues in terms of education and experience.
  • Learning may happen to due to lack of job satisfaction.
  • Learning can also help the individual in discovering new areas of expertise.

There are many more reasons why an individual wants to learn something new. Notwithstanding, there are barriers to the learning process. Some of these key barriers to effective learning are:

  • Many consider learning as just another task and not as an experience to know more and be knowledgeable.
  • Many times, individuals miss the opportunity to learn more without realizing it.
  • Not recognizing the importance of learning and not knowing how to use the knowledge gained is in itself a barrier to learning.

Starting from the junior most employee of an organization to the top most manager or CEO, each person needs to be responsible about his or her learning which would eventually lead to the growth of the Company. Every individual must identify learning opportunities made available to him or her and utilize them effectively to move ahead in life.

No matter which industry vertical one is in, effective learning is extremely important in every Company. To ensure that your Company’s employees are continuously developing and in the process of constant training, effective learning techniques must be incorporated.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

  • I’d suggest giving action learning a try.

  • Learning at organizational level does not work because most of the times training is done for namesake. A simple example, a 2 hr session on communication skills most of which is focused around how to best communicate with your managers. People who know it don’t need it and people who don’t know it, will not learn it through 2 Hrs of PowerPoint. If an organization really cares about teaching people communication skills smaller group sessions are more necessary. Also, they should have practice 1 on 1s with trainers where they can be given corrective feedback and tips. Trainer would have to simulate angry manager, happy manger, not interested manager and other stuff to get people into understanding how communication has to be changed. We we get instead is a 2 hr PPT which is discussed and then no follow ups ever. How can such training work? Everyone is making a fool of the other one. Vendors propose 2 day leadership courses so that employees are not off desk for long time. Corporates dangle leadership training carrot to all bunnies working in their enterprise. Some bunnies bite carrot and attend training. Come back feeling stupid because leadership cannot be taught in 2 days. So now they implement half baked skills on team who curses them. And the juggernaut rolls on..

  • Austin

    Does anyone know of any tools that facilitate collaborative learning in an organization? A way for employees to take advantage of the experiences of others, etc?

  • Peter Condon

    This thought was originally posted to elearning network group, Linkedin and reposted here by request:

    An interesting question “What hampers the learning process?”
    I think resistance to, or fear of, change is a contributory factor.

    Looking at Kolb’s description of experiential learning (experience – reflection – making sense of the experience and actively experimenting with the new understanding/ knowledge), I foresee many difficulties for the learner in the corporate environment.

    • They cannot easily access information to assist in understanding their experience (limited information within the company; limited or no access to internet information; limited time to search)
    • There may be no forum to develop thoughts and theories (no peer group to talk to)
    • Who can they turn to for advice (mentor system non existent; asking for advice seen as a sign of weakness)
    • How can they actively experiment without risk to the corporate body (responsibilities for profit ; the need to retain their job; fixed thinking in higher management)
    • How can the new found knowledge of one individual be adopted by many (change is resisted at all levels)
    And, to me, the most important point;
    • Experiential learning takes time, which few people seem to have in the modern corporate environment.

    Perhaps the question might be;
    Why do people bother to learn at all in the modern corporate environment?
    To which I would answer:
    • Enthusiasm
    • Curiosity
    • Self development
    • Problem solving
    • Keeping up with others
    In truth, the corporate learner faces many hurdles and is often hampered in their quest for knowledge. I think it is a tribute to these learners that they continue in spite of this resistance.

    I think companies could encourage development of the individual by:
    • Ensuring knowledge is easily available (both formally and informally)
    • Developing mentors and/or coaches
    • Rewarding self development
    • Creating an climate of continuous learning
    • Accepting/ embracing change

    I see a corporation as a collection of individuals who collaborate together and in doing so improve beyond that which the individual could achieve alone. If that is the case then any improvement to an individual will benefit the group (corporate body) as a whole. Thus learning at corporate level can only occur if change, either to the group or to the individual, is not resisted.

  • Instructional Design teams do their best to deliver face to face sessions to solve the learning gap, but we all know the experience and moving out of your comfort zone is where the real learning and behavioural change begins. It goes back to the 70/20/10 rule, where the training session only provides 10% of learning, 20% through networks/coaching and 70% on the job experience.

    We design ‘transfer of learning’ tools, basically checklists to demonstrate application in the workplace, that the participants Manager has to sign off on to give them a course completion. However some people are motivated enough to follow through, others not.

    I think the most valuable way is through support networks such as mentors and teaching leaders how to be good coaches. Having a supportive, experienced Manager who can provide advice (but not take over) has been the most valuable way I’ve learned leadership. Our business is aiming to be a coaching culture, so our coaching skills workshops will become high on the agenda. But again, how do you really teach long lasting coaching? Can it be through finding effective coaches in the bueiness and using them one on one to coach coaches?

  • Mili Lewis

    Identifiction of training and coaching is part of the overall quality built into a project (planned). Working on corporate comms I asked one of our colleagues in branding to come and give us a talk about branding in general and ours in particular. On the job and relevant. Corporate also provided a resourcse skilled in corporate comms style and tone to ‘coach’ and help the team. That is good on the job training. On other projects I have organised training in Business Analysis for whole teams and ‘customers’. I have encouraged the inclusion of exernal, academic and internal speakers on team agendas, as part of workshops, eg risk management, quality management, financial management, comms, the list goes on and will depend on the needs of the team and the expertise available within it. In some instances I have only been able to spare one team member for training, they have come back and trained the team on the relevant topics, where this might have caused a quality problem I have ensured the trainer was available to come a coach at team meet on a subject, or audit the quality of the teams’ output. Training must be tailored to fit the needs of the team and individuals.

  • Rick

    Training must be linked to core goals (job performance) or it’s just wasting time. It’s no wonder that training gets cut so quickly when there are budget problems — so few training teams can show the value they’ve contributed to the bottom line. Most just measure butts-in-seats, not performance improvement. It’s a core issue across the industry, and improved tech does not address it.

    Why isn’t it addressed, if it’s so obvious? Because measuring improvement requires clearly-defined jobs, and a lot of follow-up work (especially measured practice), and you may find like the results — ie, that all that training didn’t work. 🙂 Much safer to say, “They passed the quiz,” and move on.

  • You make good points, Rick. In my experience, if you ask a trainer what he or she is hoping to achieve, it is often focussed on the short-term: getting through the course. For the return on investment in training (ROI) to be of consequence, it must take into consideration:
    1. Worplace goals (task analysis)
    2. Delivery strategies (the psychology behind why/how people learn)
    3. Sufficient learning and practice time (usually 6 months to competence, depending on practice time allocated)
    4. Management’s expectations of the trainer and the learners (effective leaders expect and get workplace results)
    Therefore, as trainers and educators, lets take our job more seriously and only deliver measurable workplace training linked to observable outcomes and justify organisations’ ROI and their belief in our expertise.