Applying Social Learning in the Workplace

Published October 16, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

social-learning

This week we have been taking a closer look on the effects that Social Learning has on our development. Today we will examine how social learning is applied in the workplace by looking at the role the following three components play in the learning process: (a) training, (b) rewards for new skill development, and (c) modeling behaviors.

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The Value of Training

Social learning, in its simplest definition, means receiving knowledge with and from others. This happens inherently at meetings, gatherings, and amongst good friends over a cup of tea for example, just as easily as it occurs in a classroom situation. We can also experience social learning in the workplace when we step in to an adjacent office to ask a question, or call a colleague to pose the same query.  In addition, because of social media tools, learning is now unconstrained by geographic differences or temporal boundaries. Classic business models however, make the presumption that pertinent information is created and shared either through management or training alone. Most of the knowledge acquired in today’s organizations in fact, comes from engaging in networks where people co-create, collaborate and share information with full participation in guiding and driving their learning by whatever means will help them grow. Successful corporate leaders understand this concept and encourage group networking for instance, to help acquire further knowledge and experience. In the meantime, training still serves as a valuable tool in the learning process because it provides individuals solutions to challenges that have already been mastered by others (Bingham & Conner, 2010).

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New Skills Development

Wick et al. (2010) postulate that there is a strategic significance to learning and contributing to the workplace that corporate training and development programs can and should provide.  Leaders anticipate and support training programs because they are beneficial and rewarding in that they can help improve workplace performance.  However, each individual’s learning experience from any given situation is shaped by a variety of components including (a) his or her expectations, (b) attitude, (c) prior knowledge experiences, (d) learning style, and (e) aptitude and emotional experience. Furthermore, other factors can also influence the degree in which individuals transfer and apply that knowledge. These include opportunity, encouragement, reinforcement, and early successes or failures. Therefore, the success of training programs relies on both the absorption and facilitation of the educational program. The design of the learning initiatives must take into consideration and incorporate the training to encompass the entire learning process, not just what occurs in the classroom situation. Equally important is what happens before and after the formal period of instruction (Wick, Pollock, & Jefferson, 2010). Effective training programs therefore should include follow-ups, assessments, and continual re-evaluation to keep skills honed and the creative energy stimulated to maintain a cohesive organization.

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Modeling Behavior

The training process also includes to a certain degree, the modeling of behavioral practices. Most people are not even aware that they instinctively model behavior. For example, when a popular character on a television series or commercial displays a certain kind of behavior or cites a phrase that stands out, it is likely that it will become a popular catch phrase shortly thereafter.  That is how such popular quotes like, “where’s the beef’ and “yadda, yadda, yadda” are born, which advertisers rely on as a key component to creating an effective marketing campaign. In this sense, society models behavior based on popularity. In the training arena, modeling behavior presents individuals an opportunity to use information that supports and reinforces substantiated knowledge that will yield results. Behavior modeling can occur in situations of collaboration, coaching, as well as from senior management and supervisor support. Social situations, whether in an office setting or on a playing field of a sports arena, offer ripe environments for individuals to learn how to model behavior from each other in an effort to become more successful or win a game. The Greek philosopher Plato said that, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation” (Chopra, 2013). It is no wonder then, that organizational leaders who incorporate an open playful arena in their training programs, create a perfect storm for the learning experience. In conclusion, training, developing new skills and modeling behavior absorbed from successfully trained individuals with proven positive outcomes, can be an effective approach to achieve higher levels of success when it is applied in the workplace.

Well that’s it for this week … until next time … keep learning and stay organized!

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A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer. -Bruce Lee

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For more information on Media Magic, our digital publications, or to purchase any of our accelerated learning Business Life titles, please visit:

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References:

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The new social learning: a guide to transforming organizations through social media. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Chopra, D. (2013, March 27). Oprah and Deepak 21-day mediation challenge: Day 17. Carlsbad, CA, USA. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from http://www.chopracentermeditation.com/bestsellers/ProgramPage.aspx?bookid=178&id=7854

Wick, C., Pollock, R., & Jefferson, A. (2010). The six disciplines of breakthrough learning. San Franciso, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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