Encouraging Learning in the Workplace

Helping Others Learn

Make learning relevant to people's jobs.

© iStockphoto/H-Gall

Opportunities to help others learn come up all of the time in the workplace.

When you help a staff member deal with an angry customer, you have an opportunity to help her learn. When a team member comes to you frustrated by a recent change in a work system, you have an opportunity to help him understand why the change was necessary.

Whether you regard this as 'training' or not, this kind of learning doesn't just take place in formal classrooms, seminars, or online courses.

And you don't have to be a trainer to want to help people learn new things, and better understand their roles within the organization. Many people, at many levels, train others at some point – and they have a role in creating a learning environment that affects the way work is done, and how their teams are taught new things.

So how can you help people learn effectively within your company or team? There are many ways to do this, some of which involve actual 'lessons.' However, the general idea is to create an environment where people are committed to learning, and in which they are supported in their efforts.

Motivating People to Learn

People aren't always motivated to learn. Some simply don't want to learn new things; they just don't want to change. Others think that learning happens naturally, and that it's an inevitable outcome of instruction. Clearly that isn't always true, because you can teach someone lots of skills, and still not know whether the person will actually use and apply those skills.

However, you can't make someone learn. You can have the greatest session prepared. You can have the most organized presentation. You can be charming, and know your subject thoroughly. But unless 'students' are motivated, it's unlikely that they'll learn.

That's why it can be helpful to know a technique for motivating people to learn. A useful model is ARCS, which stands for 'Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction.' This was developed by John Keller in 1983, and it's been used and validated by teachers and trainers across a wide range of learning environments – from universities to the military.

Here are the basic components of the ARCS model:

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