Informal Learning and the Silent Trainer #2

Sections of this topic

    In a previous post, I discussed the need to not ignore the informal learning systems that are working within your organization. Research indicates that 70-80% of all learning comes in the form of informal learning; however, it seems to be largely ignored in training and HR departments across organizations. (By the way, if you are already thinking of ways to formalize informal learning, you are missing the mark.) Consider some of the characteristics of informal learning:

    • It is something that is not highly conscious
    • It is part of a daily routine
    • It is self-directed and is often triggered by either internal or external motivation
    • It can be unintended, casual, and unplanned

    The people within your organization are learning every day by watching, observing, talking, and listening to peers, supervisors, customers or clients, and vendors. Their behavior is heavily influenced by what I like to call the silent trainer in the organization, otherwise known as the culture of the organization. So what is your culture teaching your employees?

    The handbook and training manuals can be full of best practices, respectful workplace behavior policies, and conduct guidelines. During the new hire orientation, training sessions, monthly meetings, and written communications, you may repeat these policies and guidelines. You may even have employees complete a number of acknowledgment forms to prove you covered the policies. Further, you most likely ensure that you have the best of the best training professionals, mentors, and others teaching these and even modeling these policies. As an HR pro, are finished at that point?

    If you answered yes, then you’re missing the mark, again. The more important thing to monitor and measure is what happens in the real world. What happens out of your HR headquarters or offices? What’s going on in the field? What is the culture teaching your employees?

    Your thoughts are always encouraged and welcome!!


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    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is currently employed as the Human Resource Manager at EmployeeScreenIQ, a global leader in pre-employment background screening.