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Learning is a “golden thread that weaves through the talent management process.” This is how John Leutner, head of Xerox Global Learning, described learning in the most recent edition of Training Industry Quarterly, because it can:

  • further extend a company’s brand,
  • build an organization’s capacity to execute strategy, and
  • enable workforce potential and high performance.

Despite the obvious advantages learning offers an organization, Leutner believes that “many organizations are failing to fully leverage learning as a countermeasure to mitigate the affect that ‘rapid change’ is having on people and performance.” As such, learning can be a key differentiating factor setting apart a high performance workplace.

Increasing Learning Capacity versus Pushing Training

The rapid change that Leutner talks about is taking place across organizations of all types in the modern economy and is “occurring exponentially and far exceeding what training alone can support, making it difficult for people to meet market demands and performance requirements.”

Why does this matter? Because training focuses on foundational preparation while learning focuses on execution. The seemingly subtle distinction can have a major impact on a business’ bottom line. According to Leutner, “Businesses that depend solely on training, which is often cut during challenging economic times, find it increasingly difficult to differentiate and compete; however, businesses that focus on increasing their workforce’s learning capacity find it directly impacts performance and market leadership.”

Every workspace has a significant amount of learning taking place each day. What sets apart a high performing workplace, explains Leutner, is when technology enables learning to take place inside of a larger network instead of inside the small personal network where it naturally takes place. “When organizations increase the speed of learning, it creates a vibrant environment where the workforce becomes more agile and people become highly engaged working in alignment to excel in executing the organization’s strategy…”

Informal Learning, at the “Moment of Apply”

Your organization can make the most out of its learning and training programs by maximizing resources at the moment where training becomes learning. Leutner had explained that training focuses on foundational preparation while learning takes place through execution; given this, it is not surprising that Dr. Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher, both learning executives at Ontuitive, suggest in their article “Don’t Let Training Be A Waste Of Time” in the same issue of Training Industry Quarterly that you can get the most out of training by reinforcing lessons at the fundamental moment when an employee applies that training.

According to Gottfredson and Mosher, “Preparing learners for this vital moment should have always been at the heart of our efforts… This level of performance support isn’t accomplished with a simple job aid. It requires an intentionally created system that provides finger-tip access within two clicks and 10 seconds to the specific resources performers need to help them successfully perform on-the-job.”

Thus, learning is best accomplished within the knowledge worker’s workflow – the “Moment of Apply” does not occur during a formal training session. Gottfredson and Mosher write, “today’s work environment doesn’t tolerate learners stepping out of their workplace to learn unless it is absolutely vital to do so…We should move much of what we do as far into the natural workflow of the organization as possible. And, we should avoid, when we can, pulling people from their work for large periods of time to learn.” Because, applying training and learning at the “Moment of Apply” – when employees actually apply their lessons into actual, real-life scenarios, “is the only way to keep the training solutions we develop from being a waste of time.”

What are some examples of times where you’ve had employees get an “Ah-ha!” moment during the “moment of apply” training stage? How do the theories surrounding social learning overlap with the importance of the “moment of apply” in workplace learning?

Image credit: Bottom-Line Performance