October 25, 2018

Three critical challenges of organisational learning

The world is changing at such a rapid pace that the only way to keep up is to keep learning. As your customer market fluctuates, so does the job market.

Organisations today have a lot of expectations to meet when providing learning for their employees. Organisational learning from now on will no longer just be as simple as sending your employees for training or a full-day seminar — it will be about growing them constantly.

The following are three challenges that organisations may face when it comes to supporting learning by their people.

The first challenge is reframing and reskilling our people. As we can no longer rely on the old ways of learning, especially with the growing number of younger people in the workforce who have different values and expectations from their older peers, organisations must be able to reframe people’s mindsets and reskill them for the changes of the future.

The skills in demand many years ago are definitely not the same as we see today. This is evident in large organisations that once were at the top of their game but did not remain there because they refused to change as the world was changing.

Today, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has the potential to take certain tedious tasks out of the hands of humans so that they can focus on the bigger and more strategic tasks at hand. We don’t know if this will happen soon or in the next couple of years but what we know is that the skills required for the jobs of the future will see a shift.

One way that you can approach this challenge is to make your people understand the importance of learning. But the only way to do this is if top management is also on board. We all have this human tendency to want to better ourselves, and learning allows us to do so.

The second challenge is understanding that people learn differently. Each individual in your organisation has his or her own effective ways to learn. This is important to understand because when we’re aiming to reframe our people’s mindsets and reskill them, we need to understand what type of learning works for them.

Today’s learners are very different and require learning to be designed in a very different way. Simply, learning should be customisable to a certain extent that allows each learner to satisfy their learning needs.

This challenge can be approached in different ways. One approach is to use technology to create personalised learning, with content suited to the individual and available at the time of that person’s choosing. Depending on each person’s goals, the learning can be personalised accordingly.

Another approach is through gamification. This can be done through the personalised learning interface itself or even face to face during workshops. Gamification in learning involves applying certain elements you would see when playing a game, such as a scoring system and awards, to help focus the learner’s attention and improve learning retention.

The third challenge is that the current speed of learning cannot keep up with the speed of change. As mentioned before, as AI and machine learning lead to the automation of certain jobs, what happens to those who work these jobs? They will have no choice but to learn new skills to fill new jobs that are opening up.

One way to approach this challenge is to truly understand the changes in the job market and what kind of job demands are rising and falling. In this sense, you’ll also be able to understand what your people will need to focus their learning efforts on.

Learning is a challenge in itself. But it is even more of a challenge when you’re trying to transform your organisation into a learning one in order to keep up with the pace of change. As Warren Bennis, an American scholar, organisational consultant and author, once said: “Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.”

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@new.seasiacenter.com or www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa