This post focuses on the challenges organizations face when attempting to integrate social learning and synthesizes some of the key concerns. Social learning is much more a cultural outcome than a process or a program to be followed. Organizations are fairly adept at implementing training programs, providing LMS access and checking for completion. However, social learning neither has a completion criteria nor can it be enforced. “Social learning” cannot be assigned as one would a course or a module. Nor can one be sent off to attend a class on social learning. So, social learning continues to loom like a specter over L&D’s head, who are usually given the dictate of implementing it.
- Senior management must walk the talk; if they don’t have time to engage on the collaboration platform, the rest of the organization will not have the time either
- Transparent sharing of information must be the default mode; if employees cannot be trusted with organizational information, then the wrong people have been recruited
- Collaboration and cooperation must be rewarded; if the measurement system continues to reward competitive behaviour, then that is what will be perpetrated
- Individuals need to feel empowered; open and honest sharing cannot be driven by fear and a carrot and stick approach. Open and honest sharing comes from employees feeling respected and appreciated.
- Sharing of knowledge is a discretionary effort; unappreciated employees will hold back on their DE. Genuine appreciation, support and coaching need to define management attitude.
In summary, integrating social learning in the workplace requires:
- In-depth analysis of existing assumptions and biases
- Critical assessment of the management model and methods
- Honest look at what is holding people back from collaborating and sharing
- Evaluation of the modes of reward and feedback being practised
- Drawing up a desired future state vision (in collaboration with employees)
- Defining of a clear change management strategy with special emphasis on management responsibilities
- Implementation of the strategies with the leadership and top management "leading" the way
- Redefining of processes and systems to support the change (adhering to the old rules while expecting new behaviour is not only counter-productive but also damaging)
- Celebrating small successes; rewarding genuine effort
- Tracking the impact and sharing it with the organization