The mere mention of “corporate learning” is enough to set eyes rolling among workers. Endless documents packed full of dull theory, training sessions held weeks and weeks before the go-live, tools that are completely irrelevant for the individual’s working context – none of this is uncommon. So it’s no wonder that the topic of learning evokes negative feelings among many staff members.
Nonetheless, 98 percent of all staff are very much aware that they need to undertake training to keep up with the changing requirements of their work. This was one of the conclusions reached by Professor Nele Graf, Denise Gramss and Professor Michael Heister based on a large-scale survey of more than 10,000 people for the LEKAF research project. In fact, 77 percent even fear their future career will suffer if they fail to expand their knowledge.
At the same time, however, the majority of respondents complained that learning is not appropriately supported or acknowledged in their organization. On top of this, the study participants even view their own learning management critically. In other words, there is still some work to be done to create the ideal conditions for developing a sustainable corporate learning culture.
The conditions for effective learning
There are five conditions that need to be met for learning to win back its positive image in the minds of all those involved and go on to have a sustainable impact. These are outlined in the model known as the “chain of conditions for effective learning”, which was developed by Jan Foelsing, Learning and New Work Designer at Pforzheim University.
Bedingungskette wirkungsvollen Lernens
The foundations for effective learning can only be established if learning programs are consistently geared toward the needs of the learners and other stakeholders, such as the people who place orders, external partners and customers.
If both learners and the organization can see the benefits of a learning program, there will also be more openness to accepting it.
The organizational format in which learning takes place should be clarified in advance. Is there a reward system that honors employees’ further development?
Only once the three conditions above have been met will learning acquire the status it needs to have if the learners themselves, teams, managers and so forth are to properly appreciate it.
By taking into account all the above conditions, organizations with a positive learning culture will create the ideal basis for effective learning.
The trick is to avoid creating an imbalance by focusing on just one or two of the five links in the chain – for example, by considering only learners’ needs and losing sight of how to transfer what they learn into their day-to-day work. Those who factor in all the conditions on an equal footing and, building on this, design effective learning formats, are in a prime position to achieve effective, agile and self-organized staff development.