Organizational growth is optimized when employees learn and grow, driving creativity and innovation. Vital to continuous development is a healthy learning ecosystem. This article outlines key issues to consider while fostering a learning ecosystem.
What Is a Learning and Performance Ecosystem?
A Learning and Performance Ecosystem is the framework that drives continuous learning and development.
- Because ongoing learning is vital to the creativity and innovation of an organization, a learning ecosystem drives organizational growth.
- It functions as guideposts for the L&D team as they manage the needs of business leaders, supporting enterprise goals and strategies.
Why Is This Something L&D Leaders Should Invest on?
People truly learn when they’re ready to accept new information. Training should solve immediate problems for employees when they’re most receptive.
A highly functional learning ecosystem provides the support employees need, when they need it.
L&D leaders have the unique opportunity to drive organizational learning in a way that supports employee efforts, feeds into enterprise goals and initiatives, and drives organizational growth.
Organizations with a healthy Learning and Performance Ecosystem are:
- More creative and innovative. Employees are better able to think outside their day-to-day norms, identifying creative solutions to old and new problems alike. High-potential employees who love to learn are an organization’s most valuable asset. In the 21st century, the most important attribute in an employee is their desire and ability to learn. The speed of change in business is not slowing down. In fact, it is only going to accelerate. Those employees and organizations who learn will adapt and thrive and those who don’t, will quickly fall behind.
- More collaborative. As employees participate in learning opportunities, either formal or informal, they understand more about how their role intersects, overlaps, and depends on others in the organization. They’re more likely to reach out and collaborate with those in other departments, breaking down silo walls.
- Better at effective iteration. A strong learning ecosystem instills the power of yet, versus the tyranny of now (as described by Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset”). In a learning ecosystem, there are triggers and wireframes that help employees gain the confidence that while they may not have all the solutions to their problems right now, they will – in the near future. They understand that quick iterations in a healthy feedback loop will create solutions that will drive organizational growth.
How Does a Learning and Performance Ecosystem Fuel Continuous Learning and Drive Organizational Growth?
A learning ecosystem fuels continuous learning and drives organizational growth in the following ways:
- It fosters an environment where learning is stickier and with this, the on-the-job application of learning increases.
- There is an emphasis on continuous skill building and reinforcement for existing employees.
- A learning ecosystem reduces the time to proficiency many organizations struggle with.
- Changing the way employees view learning in a healthy way is another result of a learning ecosystem. Perception is reality. Therefore, the more positive the perception employees have of training, the more likely they are to remember what they learn and apply it to their job.
- Finally, a learning ecosystem can trigger positive behavioral change in employees.
Are There Any Other Gains That Organizations See as They Leverage the Learning and Performance Ecosystem based Approach?
There are several other significant gains for organizations as they leverage the Learning and Performance Ecosystem based approach.
Organizational change is driven by formal and informal training, as well as a shift to a continuous learning culture. You can leverage the Learning and Performance Ecosystem to offer training and more significantly, to create a culture of continuous learning.
- A Learning and Performance Support Ecosystem, can be used for formal training as shown here.
- Upskilling and reskilling. Given the changing dynamics, there is a need to continuously upgrade employee knowledge and skills.
- Cross-functional skills For instance, a team may have strong programming skills but lacks effective product design or project management. A learning ecosystem can support those teams as they development members into scrum masters, for example.
- Fixing performance gaps. A learning ecosystem also helps identify important performance gaps by aligning training tactics to enterprise goals and drive organizational growth. Those intersections identify weaknesses as well as resources that may buttress or resolve those weaknesses.
- A learning ecosystem also address the ongoing need for effective compliance and onboarding
- In addition, a learning ecosystem drives organizational growth through informal learning.
- Providing just-in-time learning solutions, including job aids and performance support systems.
- Pushing nudges to employees whose performance may have dropped off.
- Fostering coaching and mentoring relationships – In a learning ecosystem, it’s vital that managers frequently evaluate employee performance, coaching when needed.
- A learning ecosystem changes an organization’s learning culture. It leverages social and collaborative learning platforms, helping employees collaborate more effectively while learning from each other.
- Driving organizational growth means that a learning ecosystem provides timely nudges to employees for self-directed learning. Perhaps when they may have some downtime, they listen to training. For instance, an organization in the United States provides personal security feeds audio-training to its employees’ earpieces between assignments (such as when they transition from one post to another).
- A learning ecosystem leverages social learning platforms so that employees can curate their own content and share it with others. Subject matter experts (SMEs) can also generate content and share it on the platform. The training department can use that content as source material in their training development efforts.
What Should Be the Key Considerations for Building Your Own Learning Ecosystem?
When building a learning ecosystem, leverage EI’s Learning and Performance ecosystem model.
- First, initiate and create awareness. Without an awareness of the ecosystem’s architecture and available resources, employees won’t be able to use it, missing out on its power to drive organizational growth.
- Develop assets using immersive learning approaches. These may include scenario and problem based learning opportunities.
- Ensure that the learning is at the employees’ fingertips – at the moment of need.
- Reinforce the learning by challenging employees to consider situations and evaluate the veracity of the content.
- Offer time and resources for self-directed learning, individually and in more social environments. Employees can seek the information they need and then share it with others.
- Continue to evaluate the efficacy of your learning ecosystem, leveraging the application of learning on the job. Determine what’s working and what’s not.
- Iterate and enhance the learning environment, based on evaluative data. Don’t settle for good enough, but iterate on an ongoing basis, and understand that business continues to change and so should the learning ecosystem.
Ongoing learning is vital to the creativity and innovation of an organization, and a learning ecosystem drives organizational growth. Building a learning ecosystem will boost employee productivity and engagement.
Want to learn how you can use the Learning and Performance Ecosystem based approach to lay a strong foundation to support employee learning and performance improvement?
Use EI’s Learning and Performance Support Ecosystem model as a map to drive organizational growth.
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