Today’s post takes a closer look at effective strategies that have been used to encourage the social learning process. The first way to approach this issue is to acknowledge that learning does not occur in a vacuum. In other words, what each person takes away from any given learning experience, is shaped by many components, including that individual’s expectations, their attitude, prior knowledge and experiences, their learning style, aptitude, as well as their emotional state of being. Similarly, a variety of elements influence the extent which individuals in response will absorb, transfer, and apply that newly acquired knowledge. These include opportunities they had; positive or negative encouragement and reinforcement from their closest spheres of influence; and the level of achievements they experienced from early successes or failures.
Top performers use this information in the development of their clearly defined social learning strategies to help them achieve desired outcomes. Below are listed some of the tactics top leaders implement in their learning programs to support the social learning process:
- They make the learning experience a more strategic function, since the relationship to the mission of the group is clear.
- They increase the motivation to learn by providing individuals the answer to the what’s in it for me question.
- They increase the likelihood of investment by making the group’s value explicit.
- They call attention to the shared responsibility of learning where on-the-job results can only be obtained with support and reinforcement.
In addition, the success of learning and development programs require that the learning process takes place from both the input and transference of the information in order to shape outcomes. The design of effective learning initiatives, in the meantime, must be developed with extensive comprehension of the entire learning process – not just what happens in the classroom, e-learning sessions, or simulated environments. In short, what occurs before and after the formal period of instruction is as important, if not more significant, than what happens during the training itself. Therefore, the development of effective social learning systems and programs needs to include in the design stages, all of these components to encompass and enhance the complete learning experience.
Motivation also plays a significant role in the social learning arena. Typically in a group setting, there are only a handful of individuals that take the initiative to engage in active participation to help achieve their goals, while the other portion of the group tend to engage in social loafing. Furthermore, prior experience, expected value personal relevance, emotional state, and learning style, also affect the learning process, so strategies to raise levels of enthusiasm should be used to provide opportunities that will help support the group. Tactics can include forms of group reinforcement, rewards for early successes, and special events for outstanding recognition. These are all examples of elements that help transform individuals who lack motivation towards shifting their behavior to get positive results.
The challenge is to deliver training in ways that bridge the learning process into action. This requires the following components:
- Collaboration: continuing peer-to-peer learning and sharing after the formal instruction is encouraged and facilitated.
- Coaching: learners are provided easy and efficient ways to engage their managers, subject matter experts, instructors, or other advisers during the transfer of the application process.
- Supervisor Support: managers are encouraged to provide coaching and are provided with relevant background materials and easy-to-use coaching guides to maximize their probability of success.
- Senior Management Support: senior management acknowledges the significance of managerial support by recognizing and rewarding lower level managers who do a superior job in achieving their goals.
In conclusion, the key to successful outcomes in social learning situations is providing leadership that encourages the development of an environment where: (a) openness can take form; (b) a climate exists that tolerates errors; and (c) an environment consists of individuals that display mutual respect. Perceptive, mindful leaders, who develop a deep appreciation and connection to personnel, recognize that most individuals are not even aware of their true capacity or what they are actually capable of achieving. When we become more conscious and self-aware, we can begin to recognize that we are all more than just human beings existing in an ever changing universe.
Well that wraps things up for this week. Until next time … stay organized and never stop learning!
“Training often gives people solutions to problems already solved. Collaboration addresses challenges no one has overcome before.”
― Marcia Conner, The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media
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