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3 Steps for Building Informal Learning Habits

Posted by Lynne Koltookian on 1/9/14 3:00 AM
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If your company wants top performers but can’t afford to send them to formal structured training programs, how will they learn? In the February 2013 article in Chief Learning Officer, Tom Spencer offers his 3-step model for building informal learning habits in employees. He calls it the Plan-Connect-Reflect Model. In this model, employees take the initiative in identifying and learning from their own work experiences.


If this model is something you might implement in your organization, here is how it works:

1. Planning – The employees first create their initial plans that identify long-term learning goals (behaviors, skills to be improved, and workplace opportunities to accomplish these goals). Next, they create daily plans to link their learning goals with their work schedule.

2. Connecting – Employees work through five ways to connect their goals with their daily activities. They intentionally practice skills, evaluate how their behavior impacts others, observe exemplars of skills they hope to master, actively listen to feedback on how they are performing during practice sessions, and set up opportunities for future learning.

3. Reflecting – Employees take notes daily or journal their reflections on what they’ve learned and how it will impact their performance. They need to keep this practice quick and easy; otherwise, this learning model may fall apart.


This informal learning approach in any organization requires management support with some involvement from the training department. We, as learning specialists, need to secure buy-in from top management. Once we have their support, we will probably be the ones to implement the model. We then need to train managers and/or SME’s to work with employees to help them through the model steps. Most importantly, we need to train them how and when to give employees immediate positive and constructive feedback on their performance.


Organizations need to realize that time and money must be invested in employee development whether it happens formally or informally. If your company does not think that the informal learning approach described in this model is feasible, then they need to support more formally structured training programs.


What learning approach does your company favor?

Lynne has been a course leader with Langevin since 2007. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Boston University. After working many years in human resources and sales, Lynne transitioned into training, her true passion, where she’s been facilitating since 1994. Her training philosophy is simple—learning should be fun! The essence of a good instructor is someone who can make complex things easy to understand and fun to learn. In her free time, you’ll find Lynne cycling, hiking, downhill skiing, and scuba diving.

Tags: instructor-led training, tips-for-trainers

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