When was the last time you asked your training audience where they get more of their training from? Do they learn more about their job from formal training (classroom, online, etc.) or do they learn more informally (from peers, managers, etc.)?
You should find out, and here's why: Informal learning accounts for over 75% of the learning taking place in organizations today. In the past many companies viewed informal learning as a negative reflection on their formal training programs. If trainees were learning from a co-worker instead of a trainer it meant that there was a training "gap" or a need not being addressed in the classroom.
In today's faster, cheaper, better world the fact that 75% of learning takes place without a structured training intervention is a big glowing dollar sign to business leaders trying to pinch pennies. But for training this new willingness to embrace informal learning raises a big question - how does the training team fit into the picture when trainees are learning more from each other than they are from you?
Training is about facilitating change to positively impact performance so training leaders need to get out in front of informal learning by taking the lead and coming to the table with practical strategies for supporting an informal learning culture. This kind of change is bigger than just the training department. You'll need a top-down commitment to informal learning - and that starts with convincing your colleagues and leaders that there's a compelling reason to change.
Convincing the Boss
Promoting Informal Learning with Trainees
Once you've got momentum for change, try implementing some of these ideas to promote informal training in the workplace.
I'm the first to admit that I'm no expert in informal learning...but Jay Cross is. I highly recommend his Informl learning blog for great insight and advice on this topic. Also checkout the free resources Eden Tree offers on their site including an informal learning guide and a diagnostic tool to help you uncover ways of enhancing the quality of informal learning already taking place.
Still not convinced that the training team should have a role in promoting informal learning? Share your ideas with us and leave a comment.
Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training. When her training skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own design muscles.