Effective Development

In a previous article, we discussed challenges faced by organisations attempting to recruit and cultivate in-demand skills, specifically, discussing what companies can learn from research which correlated traits of the five-factor model of personality the five-factor model of personality to the most consistently coveted skills and the efficacy of training and its limitations. This article explores the intricacies surrounding training and development, how we learn and retain, how effectively individuals can acquire and then apply the attained knowledge, and how to design development practices that benefit company objectives while prioritising employees’ growth and positive experience. 

How we learn: The Power of Engagement

‘Nothing taught by force stays in the soul’ – Plato.

Learning requires engagement; engagement is necessary for memory creation and retention. For a subject to be engaging, it needs to be of interest. So, how do we make learning enjoyable? 

Creating engagement first requires understanding where the learners are – where does their current knowledge lie? Learning and developing too familiar content inhibits engagement as the mundane is tedious to interact with. At the same time, something that is too foreign or outside of our scope of understanding is difficult to engage with, so facilitators want to aim for ‘not so foreign that it’s difficult to understand but just enough that it keeps learners wanting to know more.’ 

More often than not, employees’ development is dictated to them – almost always with the best intentions – but these practices can lead to disengagement when people are allocated learnings that they struggle to relate to or understand. With three of the top five reasons people consider leaving their roles related to a lack of learning support, companies can’t afford to ‘tick boxes.’ Keeping clear communication with employees about their personal goals before aligning with the workplace’s objectives is the best option to establish the correct employee training. Clear communication is not limited either to verbal conversations. Companies can create clear and consistent understandings of employees’ goals and how they align with their skill set through low-cost, consistently updated tools and software. 

Engagement fosters motivation: The Neurological Dance

Part of what happens during engaged learning is the release of the excitatory neurotransmitter Acetylcholine (ACh)’ which is involved in attention, focus and memory consolidation in the Hippocampus (the brain area involved in learning and memory). The release of ACh prompts attention and focus on the learning task, reinforcing motivation and engagement. Doing so contributes to synaptic plasticity and consolidating information received into long-term memory. But this consolidation in our Hippocampus of what we are exposed to during learning happens following the teaching, meaning the actions we take or scenarios we involve ourselves in following the education can directly impact the brain events associated with which the actions of ACh contribute to retention and most notably in the context of organisational development; memory retrieval long-term. The consolidation of the memories required for long-term retrieval is enhanced through revision and repeated application of learning closely following the learning. The neurotransmitter Dopamine is released when we encounter something novel or exciting, and the interplay of both neurotransmitters contributes to the process of neuroplasticity that solidifies the formation of the new memory. 

Factors that inhibit information retention: 

Applying what is learned closely following learning is excellent for solidifying that information we’ve just learned into memory, but this is only sometimes practical in the workplace. In leadership development programmes, for example, learners foster future skills. Commonplace, what is learnt in corporate training is intended to be remembered and applied months or even years later. An issue Micro-Learning trends aim to tackle through bite-sized momentary skills development.  

It is commonplace for organisational development to be squeezed into tightly packed schedules, where individual workload is only sometimes considered or reduced per the time required to complete the training. Resulting in extended working hours, skipped rest periods, and, as a result, higher bursts of stress. The stress hormone Cortisol can prevent the consolidation of memories in the Hippocampus, so if your company tends to operate in a ‘high-pressure environment’, this is not conducive to information retention. It’s less likely that employees will retain what they have learned. 

How we train: Adapting to the Modern Landscape

Organisations utilise various training methods, including online tools (LXP, LMS). The challenge is aligning training to individual requirements to ensure learnings convert to retained information. Even in the context of the LXP, which aims to tailor development through skills assessments, it is compounded by the fact that engagement rates within companies are often suboptimal, with 60% considered the best that companies can hope for, diminishing the return on investment. 

Challenges in the Virtual Realm: Practical Learning Concerns:

Virtual training sessions bring their own set of challenges. Technical limitations, such as The rise of broken cameras and internet instability, contribute to the challenge of practical learning in a virtual environment. Portions of a company’s training budget may be lost due to information needing to be communicated to participants. 

Utilising How We Learn To Support How We Train

At Attain, indicated personal traits are a core consideration to decipher suitable learning on the periphery of the employee’s already attained knowledge. However, defining acquired traits or skills is only sometimes the case. In many circumstances, employees’ development is dictated to them – almost always with the best intentions – but these practices can lead to disengagement when people are allocated learnings that they struggle to relate to or understand. With three of the top five reasons people consider leaving their roles related to a lack of learning support, companies can’t afford to ‘tick boxes.’ Keeping clear communication with employees about their personal goals before aligning with the workplace’s objectives is the best option to establish the correct employee training. Clear communication is not limited to verbal conversations. Companies can create clear and consistent understandings of employees’ goals and how they align with their skill set through low-cost, consistently updated tools and software. 

Conclusion,

Creating effective organisational development strategies requires consideration of how we engage with, learn and retain information through a multi-approach that incorporates valid techniques and supportive software for a tailored development approach to employees’ specific needs. Organisations can secure and foster talent that drives their future sustainability. 

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