In 2021, most organisations understand that providing engaging and meaningful eLearning is a fundamental part of achieving their goals. It can help to align a workforce, address skill shortages and even improve employee retention.
The problem is that without a plan, it can be challenging to ensure that your eLearning is driving change. Too frequently, learning is simply completed, and the lessons are quickly forgotten. To combat this, organisations need to find a way to make sure that this new knowledge is adopted and used.
This is where action learning comes into play. According to the World Institute for Action Learning, action learning is “a process that involves a small group working on real problems, taking action, and learning as individuals, as a team, and as an organisation.”
When implemented, action learning encourages individuals to focus on problem solving, critical thinking, and collaborative work. It also allows them to apply their new skills in their day-to-day work. However, it’s essential to consider that action learning has benefits for individuals taking part and for the organisations as a whole.
Here are our top four benefits to both organisations and individuals!
- Organisation Benefit: No work time is lost to theoretical training
- Individual Benefit: Employees are aware that they are not alone in trying to solve problems
Action learning is designed to focus on real-life problems that organisations are facing. For many people, this means there is no time “wasted” on hypothetical training. While we believe that effective and engaging eLearning is never wasted time, action learning does offer a more direct path to growing the skill set of employees while also directly addressing a range of problems across the business. This can provide additional context to training and streamline the actual transfer of knowledge, leading more directly to improved business outcomes.
For employees, action learning can also give individuals the chance to address their problems in teams. This can help them realise they are not alone in their struggles and foster a sense of team spirit as they work as a unit to resolve issues. It can also allow different teams to come together and promote a greater understanding of the business and problems as a whole.
- Organisation Benefit: The best solutions are found and implemented
- Individual Benefit: Employees can influence the processes that directly affect them
In many organisations, solutions are created and implemented by upper management, but this doesn’t always mean that the answers are the best ones available. In fact, some of these solutions proposed may be disconnected from the workforce themselves and can lack a practical or day to day element. This can lead to employee frustration and even disengagement, as well as not actually solving the problem.
By opening up this process via action learning, organisations are more likely to receive the best possible solution. They can include various stakeholders from all involved teams, allowing for a more complete understanding of the problems and nuances involved. As a result, the devised solutions will often be more thorough and practical.
Importantly too, these solutions are more likely to be embraced by employees. Instead of simply being told what to do, employees will be able to proactively work to improve their role as they can develop and then own the solution, increasing their engagement with it while also growing their skills.
- Organisation Benefit: Knowledge transfer from training is increased
- Individual Benefit: Employees gain the skills they need to progress in their career
The focus of training is normally to grow knowledge and then apply this on a day to day basis, but the reality is that a lot of training fails to do that. This is where action learning really shines, as the real-life focus is a crucial element to ensure knowledge transfer occurs. For organisations struggling with their training effectiveness, this single change in approach can have a significant impact.
For individuals, engaging in action learning can improve skills related to the training and enhance soft skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, and communication. It can also empower them to think outside their role, further engage with business areas and even promote leadership and management skills to help forward planning.
- Organisation Benefit: A culture of learning is created, with a change in employee mindset
- Individual Benefit: Employees receive new perspectives and confidence in their ability to solve problems
For many organisations, action learning represents a shift in focus. It requires a movement from training being a relatively static one-off affair to instead promoting it as an ongoing part of employees’ roles. As a result, the culture of the workplace will often begin to change too. Knowledge and training will be valued more highly. At the same time, employees will also be more proactive in identifying issues and confident in problem solving. This will allow organisations to be more agile in responding to changing demands.
A learning culture also has benefits for employees. Often they will be more engaged, exposed to different parts of the organisation and will be more confident that they can address problems as they arise. This confidence boosts morale and further emphasises a flexible and agile workforce.