Learn or Die with Learning Science

There is a technology tidal wave on its way and it is going to hit organizations with massive disruptive force. If organizations want to survive, they need to use learning science.

Author and professor Edward D. Hess has stated that organizations of the future will either “learn or die.”

This dramatic statement is the title of his new research-based book on organizational learning. He believes that close to 70% of all American jobs will be displaced by technology in the next 20 years. If technology is going to replace that many workers what can/should HR do to address this issue?

HR needs to help employees develop new skills that technology will not be able to replicate or render obsolete. Dr. Hess believes the following skill sets will stand the test of time:

  • High level critical thinking
  • Innovation
  • Creativity
  • High emotional engagement with others

The problem is our current learning strategies may not be sufficient to truly develop or enhance these skills.

Humans are naturally defensive learners and organizations tend to embody the characteristics of the individuals that comprise them. Organizations are their own worst enemies when it comes to learning; they need to develop new learning strategies. Dr. Hess claims that learning better and faster than the competition is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage.

Click here to watch a short video clip introducing Dr. Hess’ ideas.

So, what will be the purpose of HR in the future, when 70% of the jobs we know today don’t exist? Perhaps it will be to make humans better learners and thinkers.

Discussion Questions:

After watching the video clip, what role do you see HR playing in training the workplace of the future?

Once you determine the future direction of HR, create a 3-minute presentation to convince your VP of HR that this new direction is the way to go if your HR department and organization are to survive.

HR and Gamification

Tashatuvango/Shutterstock

Gamification in the workplace is a trend that started around 2015 and has become increasingly popular in the training and development world. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of gamification, let’s start with the basics. The Training Industry defines game-based learning and gamification, which are two closely related concepts, in the following way:

Game-Based Learning is training that uses game elements to teach a specific skill or achieve a specific learning outcome. It takes your core content and objectives and makes them fun.

Gamification is the application of game mechanics in a non-game context to promote desired behaviour and drive learning outcomes. Think points, badges, leaderboards, and incentives.

Game-Based Learning vs. Gamification: Do You Know the Difference?

Why use gamification in the workplace? Some believe gamification in the workplace can improve productivity, employee engagement, and motivation. If done correctly it may be a great tool for skills development. Gamification does tap into the human need to participate, achieve, and to compete, which may breed exceptional employee performance. It can help bring workplace training to life.

For a deeper understanding of gamification in the workplace, click here and read this article from Radboud University.

Can using gamification in the workplace have negative effects? Yes, it can. Gamification can be expensive to set up if you do not already have an existing platform. Also, like any other learning interventions, it must be strategically linked to your organizations learning and business goals. According to Training Industry, gamification is not ideal for training that requires major behavioural shifts, but is best-suited to content that can be memorized.

Before an HR Department integrates gamification into workplace training or a development program, it must first think very seriously about the outcomes of extensive gamification. Will gamification of training breed positive or negative outcome in the workplace?

Discussion Questions:

Research a company that has successfully introduced gamification in the workplace. What was the specific purpose of the gamification? Where did it result in workplace improvements?

Research a company that has introduced gamification in the workplace and has seen negative results. What were the negative outcomes?

Research to discover some of the ethical issues of gamification in the workplace.

 

Orientation or Initiation?

“I am overwhelmed, there is too much paper, and this is so boring!”

This is not a teenager talking about a high school class, but a typical new employee’s comments after a common workplace orientation session.

Many HR departments who run employee orientation or on-boarding sessions get it all wrong, and it sets up a poor employee relationship from day one. The new employee starts to think, “If the company can’t get this right, do I really want to work here?” Talk about a demotivating experience.

There are better ways to run an employee orientation. Think about it as an employee’s initiation, not orientation. HR should focus on how to make the new employee fit into the organization, not HR telling the employee about the organization.

Here is a great article from Forbes how on to get orientation right.

The research shows that having an individual-focused orientation can reduce employee turnover significantly. HR is the gatekeeper of new employees on their first day, make it meaningful to the employee, not an administrative activity that feels like the goal is to deaden the employees will to live. Orientation should be an exciting day for the employee and the employer. Let’s keep that in mind.

Discussion Questions

  • Think about a time you have experienced a very poor orientation session, what was done wrong in that session.
  • If you were the HR manager responsible for the orientation session, what would you recommend changing to make it more meaningful?

The Direction of Organizational Learning

In the 1990s, Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline, the Art and Practice of the Learning was ground breaking, and was instrumental in changing the world of organizational behaviour and development.

However, there is a new concept on the block that is taking organizational learning theory to new heights. It is called Deliberate Developmental Organization (DDO). This has been created by a team of authors and researchers who comprise an organization called Way to Grow Inc.* This team, which includes faculty members from Harvard and a doctoral student from Stanford-PGSP, has produced a book called, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization.

According to the research behind the book, the organizations that do well are ones that are deeply aligned with an individual’s greatest motivation, which is to develop within an organizational culture that supports growth. This concept expands on Dan Pink’s motivational theory that an individual’s greatest motivator is to develop.

The authors of An Everyone Culture posit that most employees devote a significant amount of energy to a second, unpaid, job – i.e., the work of covering their weaknesses and managing others’ impressions of them. They believe this is the biggest cause of wasted resources in most companies.

Their solution is the creation of an organizational culture that doesn’t waste energy, but focuses it on developing people. According to the DDO concept, employee weakness is a strength, and errors represent opportunities to develop.

Click here to read an extended whitepaper on this approach by Robert Kegan et al.

Imagine working for an organization where you could truly be your authentic self and continuously improve on your weakness. Would that be a dream job or a nightmare? Something to think about!

Discussion Questions:

— Having reviewed the extended whitepaper by Kegan et al., do you think you would like to work in a company with a well-developed DDO culture? Explain why/why not.

— Have you had an experience where you feel you had a weakness at school or work? What was the weakness? Were you allowed to expose it? Did you have support in overcoming it? If yes, what was the outcome? If no, what was the outcome?

* To learn more about Way to Grow Inc, visit www.waytogrowinc.com.

 

Employee Training Matters

Jirsak/Shutterstock

Here is a great little lesson on workplace improvement. If you want to improve your workplace, train your employees.

Employee training matters. Paying for employee training also matters.

Organizations should be committed to the ongoing upgrading of employees’ skills, and part of that commitment is paying employees while they learn new skills. This training will make the organization more successful.

It seems that many Canadian employers are not committed to helping their employees learn. According to a recent Robert Half survey of financial officers, only 24% of employers allow professional development during a work day.

Click here to read about this report in more detail.

Daniel Pink, a leader in workplace motivation, believes mastery is a key factor in improving workplace performance. The fact is, people want to have a continued sense of progress at work. This is a desire for mastery.

Click here to watch Dan Pink talk about Mastery.

Let’s think about Pink’s organization performance equation. Organizations want motivated workers; workers want to feel a continued sense of forward momentum. Therefore, organizations who support workers’ learning get more motivated employees.

The logic of Dan Pink’s equation seems simple enough, and it’s worth noting that there is empirical research from Harvard that supports his thesis. The question that must be asked, then, is why do 75% of Canadian employers not support paying for employees to learn?

To improve workplace motivation, productivity, and retention organizations need to start committing to employee development by supporting training. It is time to join the minority.

 

Discussion Questions:

Investigate and find research that illustrates a positive Return of Investment (ROI) on employee training.

Develop a 3-minute presentation on the added employment benefits of continual employee professional development.