What Is Needed to Support Learning at Work

What Is Needed to Support Learning at Work
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Support Learning at Work
Just as when you want to learn something new in your personal life, learning in your work life to increase your capabilities requires a well thought out plan. And we know that a plan to support learning at work requires setting clear, meaningful, and achievable development goals.

Unfortunately, most people struggle to achieve their goals.  According to the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people who set New Year’s goals actually achieve them.  Statistics regarding the accomplishment of career development goals are not much better. 

How can we formulate goals and accountabilities that effectively support learning at work?

Some Very Practical Tips to Support Learning at Work
When we assess organizational culture at our clients, we find that effective goal achievement requires thoughtful planning, a clear purpose, self-discipline, and perseverance. The key is to identify goals that matter to you, your boss, your work team, and your overall professional growth. They must also be achievable within a reasonable time and with reasonable effort.

Here are some tips on setting achievable goals for learning at work:

  1. Focus On a Few Specific Goals
    Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performance.  We recommend setting no more than two or three concrete goals at a time.

    Let’s say you want to improve your public speaking and presentations. This is an overly general, long term goal. Instead, make it more specific. Perhaps you can plan to speak up and influence an outcome at 3 out of 4 of the next team meetings. Or you can offer to share an upcoming sales presentation with your team to get their feedback before you go in front of your prospect.

    Each goal should have a focus that is developmental, intentional, and achievable.
  2. Set a Reasonable Time Limit
    Time limits for each goal may vary somewhat depending on the nature of the goal, but in general experts recommend you strike for a 90-day deadline to create enough urgency and specificity.

    This spacing gives you the time you need in order to go through the double-loop learning cycle of deciding what to do, doing it, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t, and modifying your approach going forward. With quarterly targets for your goals, you will be forced to chunk down long term goals into smaller steps that provide natural check-in points along the path to your broader goals.
  3. Actively and Visibly Involve Others
    Achieving development goals is much easier if you have the support of and accountability exposure to others.

    Especially in a workplace, involve your boss and your peers in not only the selection of meaningful development goals but also in supporting their achievement. If your team can make it the norm for members to share their individual development plans, professional growth becomes the standard for continuous learning. Be sure to select people in your world who have sufficient opportunities to observe your work, hold you accountable, and cheer on your progress.

The Bottom Line
Effective goal setting involves focusing on a few key goals at a time that are meaningful, achievable, time-limited, and supported by others who can offer feedback, insight, and support. Does your checklist of development goals meet these criteria?

To learn more about concrete learning processes and practices to get to the next level, download The Top 5 Training Strategies and Key Mistakes to Avoid

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