Social learning is taking place all around us – and has been for as long as people have been actively communicating.
In fact, at its most basic, social learning is how we all begin learning from infancy. By observing our surroundings and adapting to the behaviors and actions of others, we are engaging in the purest form of social learning. When applied to the modern workplace however, social learning takes on a new meaning and importance.
In today’s work environment, the rapid acceleration of change forces us to continually update not only our skills, but our understanding of our role within the organization. When coupled with an increasing specialization of tasks, employees often feel overwhelmed, under-trained and fearful of being left behind. The result can be a culture of isolation and defensiveness – protecting individual job security by hoarding valuable knowledge.
In an environment such as this, the corporation is adversely impacted in numerous ways. The primary impact is an obvious one; information is not shared among various groups, leading to inefficiency and duplication of effort. The secondary impact is more subtle; the loss of trust and confidence in the way the organization operates. Other adverse effects include a stagnation of ideas, employee dissatisfaction, isolation, fear and a generally negative work environment.
So what can be done?
Break the Pattern
In order to turn things around and begin to build the conditions for valuable knowledge-sharing, companies must commit to creating a culture of social learning. One way to do this is to put in place a mechanism for sharing ideas, knowledge and best-practices among employees. Create an internal learning management system (LMS) whereby employees can both post and retrieve information that will help them to do their jobs better. Reward the employees who contribute actively to the LMS and who share their skills and knowledge.
Often a company has the experience within certain isolated pockets to resolve many of the critical issues it faces. The problem in getting to this vital information is often a cultural one. It may be surprising to some organizations to learn that an informal network for the sharing of “tribal knowledge” already exists within some internal groups.
When asked, employees will sometimes point to home-grown processes or applications for sharing certain important information. These informal tools can be effective when no others exist, but they lack the oversight and control necessary to maintain efficiency. Instead, companies should attempt to leverage any and all informal knowledge networks into an LMS, creating a system of social learning that builds on what already exists.
Where to Look?
One such system that allows for the creation of these formal knowledge pools is TOPYX®. This exciting LMS platform was built from the ground up with award-winning social learning tools to enhance the online learning and communication environment. You can see TOPYX for yourself by requesting a free, personal LMS demo.
The most valuable resource that exists in any organization is its people. Without a skilled and trained workforce, no company can continue to operate. Is your company doing everything it can to train and keep its employees?
Jeffrey A. Roth
Vice President, Marketing and Communications