Having a Say…

I confess to being old enough to have taken ‘O’ Levels at school (for the Millennials out there, these were the forerunner of GCSEs).  I turned up at the lessons, did the homework, and some revision, and at the end of what in those far-off days we called the Fifth Form, I sat in a hot, stuffy school hall in early June and took the exams.
The results have appeared on many an application form I have filled in since then.  I had no say at all in choosing what we studied, the format of the lessons, or when and where they took place, it was one size fits all, but my teachers and, more to the point, my parents, held me responsible for my performance.
This all came to mind last week as I read the latest Towards Maturity In-Focus Report, ‘Driving Performance and Productivity’.  It points out that, of the highest-performing ten per cent of organisations in the survey, three quarters of them involve employees in designing the most appropriate learning solutions for their own needs, whereas this figure shrinks to a miserable one per cent in the worst-performing quartile.
The organisation, whatever its core business, holds individuals and their managers responsible for their performance, so shouldn’t those same people have a say in what they learn, its format, and when and where that learning takes place? Individuals are responsible for their performance, and thus they should also be responsible for the learning they need to maintain and develop that performance.
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No one knows better than the individual employee which aspects of their job they find the most difficult. In addition, each individual is the world’s foremost expert on the learning methods to which they respond best. So, who in their right mind would fail to tap into this knowledge when designing learning solutions? They can be assisted in bringing into consciousness some key related factors such as their neuro-agility and with this can better prepare their own learning playbooks. More on this to follow in a future article.
Technology offers us the opportunity to bring such an approach alive and to create a personalised blend of learning tailored to the individual. Its mobility allows learning to take place as easily at the bus stop as in the living room.  As a result, individuals can not only learn at their own pace, but at their own place.
I will return to this theme of the personalisation of learning in a later post, but for now I want to go back to that survey.  Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that most of the high-performing organisations in the survey give employees and line managers a say in designing their own learning, and also a coincidence that virtually all of the worst-performing ones don’t do this.  Perhaps.
What do you think?
Pritchard & Scott discuss this topic further in their latest book, ‘Go Beyond’. If you would like to purchase a copy you can do so here, on the People in Flow website.

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