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How do I encourage my employees to adopt lifelong learning?

Lifelong learning requires a change in mindset and goes hand in hand with accountability.

Deidre Elphick-Moore

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I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, but how do I get my employees to embrace this value?

It is important that you are clear about what lifelong learning means to you. You may have a different idea to those outlined by the South African government, which focuses on a framework of school-like learning activities that lead to qualifications that one can work towards throughout one’s life.

I’d like to suggest that lifelong learning is more than that. It is a mindset and a habit for people to acquire. What I am talking about can be referred to as ‘self-directed learning’.

“In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes”, (Knowles, 1975).

You’ll see from the date of this quote that this is not a new idea, yet it is relevant more than ever in our workforce.

Accountability is the first step

As we move away from a political motivated, post-apartheid sense of entitlement, both government and private enterprise alike are stressing the importance of accountability in the value systems of their staff.

Self-directed learning is another by-product of this much talked about value. So, before you begin to try to instil an understanding of and love for learning, you need to instil the idea that your staff members are accountable for their own futures, for their successes and failures and those of the business they work in.

Setting goals

Once your employees believe that they are accountable for their own life stories, they should begin to think about their goals and what they need to do to achieve those goals.  You can help them in a number of ways:

  1. Take the initiative: lead by example, talk to your employees about your own approach to self-directed learning, share experiences and case studies that show how easy it can be to apply
  2. Diagnosing their learning needs: if you don’t already have a performance management system, you need to implement one. It will provide a baseline that shows your staff what is expected of them and where there may be gaps in their knowledge or skills
  3. Formulating learning goals: people who engage in self-directed learning have a clear vision of what they want to achieve in life. It is important that you show your staff the benefits of personal growth, perhaps through incentive programmes or career development opportunities
  4. Choosing and implementing learning strategies: people have different learning styles and preferences. Some may learn best through experience, others may prefer to listen to lessons.Encourage your staff to look for daily opportunities to grow e.g. they can seek out advice from more experienced colleagues or they may observe star performers at work. Remind them that they can also learn about what not to do if they observe poor behaviour. There are many lessons to be learnt beyond the classroom.
  5. Evaluating learning outcomes: As part of your regular interactions with staff, ask them to outline something new that they have learnt every day, week or month. Encourage them to reflect on when, where and how they learnt. Through this evaluation, you will begin to see trends in their self-directed learning and they will be motivated by what they now see as an environment rich with learning opportunities

“Change is inevitable, complete coverage is impossible and obsolescence is unavoidable” (Author unknown). It is for these reasons that we need to continue to learn, to grow every day so that we can keep up with the world around us.

Deirdre Elphick-Moore, has an Honours Degree in Psychology and over ten years of international experience in human capital management at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Co-founding The Office Coach in 2009, she now focuses on personal and workplace effectiveness training and development. Her relaxed, engaging style encourages people to learn more, remember more and apply more in their workplaces, as well as inspiring to consistently better themselves in the work place.

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Personal Improvement

Have You Fallen Off The New Year’s Resolution Wagon Already?

Stop lounging around the house ‘waiting for things to happen’… make it happen this year.

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Making new year’s resolutions is the easiest part of getting back to reality. Setting pen to paper, while you lounge around in your PJs with a glass of sweet red, is a mental hiatus we all indulge in come 1st January. But is it procrastination in disguise?

Now that we’re fully in the swing of 2017 it’s back to business. Time to map out realistic goals.

How’s your current mind-set going to lead to a more productive, enriching work-life balance?

You’ve heard of “working smart” but have you heard about setting SMART goals? Don’t tense up in your recliner just yet, this isn’t your conscience talking. Yes, we all need clearly defined objectives in our love-lives and fitness routines.

Related: Your Top 10 Growth Moves For 2017

We’re not suggesting that you toss those more “feel-good” ambitions out the window. Your holistic wellbeing is paramount to success in the work place. We’re simply suggesting that you take a little time to work smaller deliverables into your daily routine.

A great example is to exercise that writing muscle. Effective written communication is a crucial skill to master in the workplace. But how do you improve on something you’ve been doing since grade school? Well, there’s writing emails and then there’s dedicated writing time.

According to Neil Patel, you should be setting aside at least 30 minutes every day to journal your thoughts. This is a fantastic way to develop a more disciplined, precise writing style.

Real talk: Finding more tangible ways improve your routine will help make 2017 your year to shine. The more quotidian aspects of personal growth can be pretty challenging too. Just don’t give up too soon. You know what the best way to eat an elephant is after all.

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Personal Improvement

Is it even possible to take a break from my business?

Proper planning means you can afford to step away from your business now and then.

Sipho Pilime

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As a small business owner, I never seem to manage to have a proper holiday. How can I make sure that I have time to spend with my family over next year’s holiday season?

Most entrepreneurs fall into the trap for working 24/7 and never taking time out from their business.

The trick is to plan ahead so that you are freed up to take a much-needed break.

Things you need to set in place include appointing and training a manager who can run the business in your absence and properly documenting all systems and processes.

Read the full article here.

 

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Personal Improvement

What do I do with my networking contacts?

You should always follow up on contacts made at an event, you never know where it might lead.

Darren Ryder

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Should I follow up with people I’ve met at networking events? How? 

Definitely follow up with people you meet at networking events, even if there is no immediate promise of business, because you just don’t know where the “net” will end and what fish you might “catch”.

The sooner you follow up, the better. I recommend following up within 2 to 4 weeks, as the longer one leaves it the harder it becomes for people to remember who you are.

A very important point is to make sure you record all details in your database immediately after the event. It is important to make associations between the person and the place where you met so as to not forget who’s who, and then put reminders in place to get in touch.

And of course, remember to follow through!

Phone or email?

Normally follow up with an initial phone call, or email reiterating or confirming your discussion on the day, followed by a meeting.

Another great way of connecting would be to send a free sample, tester, or provide one’s service with an accompanying business card and memo. Follow this up with a phone call. This gets attention.

Be unique so people remember you in a positive light.

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