Why Every Great Workplace Needs a ‘Classroom’ Environment

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Picture this – a classroom that provides real time education, uses actual workplace events to learn from and requires on-the-spot thinking. What would you pay for your employees to be part of this kind of learning experience?

Work and the workplace are our new classroom. Our workplace brings our employees into events that require them to think, learn and practice – then provides immediate feedback – an optimal learning environment.

Though self-directed learning — the ability to move through a learning environment at one’s own pace — can be effective, greater success in the work classroom requires supportive “facilitation.” Learning in real time requires employees to have a connection to a mentor or coach — someone to guide the learning process so that it is meaningful and effective.

To build a workplace learning environment, consider the following:

Develop employees’ monthly learning curricula for workplace learning. Determine skill improvement areas needed for each employee; build a plan to connect employees to workplace events that drive the specific skills or learning outcome. For example, improving the quality of a customer service response may generate a plan to shadow an exceptional employee for a specific period. Or, it may require reviewing a service resource such as Jeff Gitomer’s book, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, then implement a concept from the book each week.

Commit to a weekly/monthly feedback and performance review meeting with each employee to guide and coach the learning. Use this time to take the real-world events experienced to not only review what was learned, but how these events can create opportunities for increased performance, learning and impact.

Classroom learning historically takes employees out of their worlds to create a formal learning environment – as if a distinctly different or scholastic environment is the way to learn. Though there may be applications that benefit from classroom learning, the best and most accelerated learning, in an age of information blur, will happen on the front lines and in the real world.

Our organizations must never stop learning. At a time when training budgets are under greater scrutiny and limitation, bring education out of the classroom and into the workplace. Use the events of the day to improve skills, discuss opportunities and to learn to be responsive. Make work your new classroom.

Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations – their leaders and managers – in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of “Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition” and “The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World.” Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. follow him on Twitter.