Learning is a lifelong activity. New positions, even new projects, require a certain amount of education. Focusing on education without hands-on experience is a HUGE missed opportunity.
Cross-training has many advantages. One of the best advantages is the ability to shift employee roles in times of expansion, vacancies, or for a specific project. Cross-education is great for building employee morale and retention. The ability to work on different projects or learn a new aspect of a company helps to break up monotony, while increasing one’s self-worth and value within the company.
Task forces, shadowing, and special projects are all great opportunities to cross-educate. Determining what employees need to know for a specific project or position creates a road-map for learning allowing that learning to occur while working on the assignment. Pairing up employees from different departments for learning increases accountability. It also helps foster working relationships between colleagues.
Conferences and classroom learning still have merit and are especially effective when shared with the entire organization. Whenever an employee or department attends a professional development event outside of the office, have them lead a seminar on the content of that event when they return. Organizations can also bring the classroom learning right to the office implementing concepts in real time.
The key to any learning culture is to embrace different learning styles. Some employees learn best by hearing information, others by seeing or reading information, and some learn best through writing or physical manipulation. Professional development options can include online videos or articles, face-to-face training, and hands-on experiences. Depending upon the industry, all three of these options can be achieved for each training experience.
Promoting a learning-based culture will yield more engaged, productive, and satisfied employees.