Workplace training: let people choose their own path

Training and development leaders have become something of a Tom Cruise grappling with an impossible mission: to offer their hundreds or thousands of employees courses that allow them to grow personally and professionally. To achieve this, human resources departments study the wide array of training, Learning Management System (LMS) and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) on offer. The task can take weeks and still not produce the desired results: at the end of the day, everyone is different and employees’ career expectations can differ considerably.

The solution to the problem could be as simple as it is radical: let them choose themselves. This approach is known as employee-led learning (ELL) and the principles are very clear: the employee should be at the heart of the training strategy and should be helped to identify and find the courses that best fit their needs. In contrast to teacher-focused training with homogeneous content, ELL advocates customized training and individual interests.

Learning expert and founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, Jane Hart, is a strong advocate of ELL. In her opinion, we need to stop treating all employees the same way and offering them the same solution; the best approach is to “treat them like individuals, and help them to have personal learning experiences that fit their own needs”. Jane Hart even goes so far as to suggest a radical change of mindset:

“We need to stop treating employees like school children and spoon-feeding them with all the training they need to do, in exactly the way we prescribe for them – but instead treat them like the intelligent adults they are!!”

Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to leave absolutely everything to the employee. One of the most important missions of the human resources leader is to help employees to create a clear training strategy: propose, identify and choose those courses that best fit the employee, explain the company’s future plans and how they can prepare themselves accordingly. Training and development professionals will still be essential, but they must realize that workers should play a leading role in their training.

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