In this episode of the blue pea leader I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on self-directed learning, what it is, the benefits and how, as a leader, you can best support it.
Pre Covid, we were more inclined to have learning mapped out for us. Course and programmes were organised and designed by the company you worked for. And most learning interventions happened in a classroom or face to face environment.
Not so now. There has been a rise in remote learning as well as online learning. There has also been a rise in companies giving discretion and autonomy to their staff to choose and select their own learning.
In essence, this covid shake-up has helped us focus in on the real gaps in our ability as well as showing us what’s fundamentally important to us.
We’re all unique and so what one person needs right now isn’t the same as another.
What is Self-Directed Learning?
Self-directed learners take control of their own learning and development. Deciding what they want to learn, how they want to learn it and when they want to learn.
It’s more organic and allows the person to choose what works for them.
The Benefits of Self-Driven Learning
Here are 2 main benefits: –
1. The Learning is Relevant and Personal to Each Individual
Assuming you’re having conversations with each person in your team, then they’ll be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. As well as the key outputs of their role.
In which case they’ll know what’s their priority areas to enhance. Rather than it being cookie-cutter or formulaic, now they can seek out learning and development that they’re already bought in to.
For one person, it may be a focus on softer skills like emotional intelligence, resilience or influencing.
For another, it might be hard skills like blockchain, artificial intelligence or affiliate marketing.
2. Better ROI
The cost of some training programmes can be eye-watering, and when you factor in the impact or useability. Cripes alive. Even cheap programmes can be expensive when they’re poorly designed, badly delivered and unsupported back in the workplace.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of ineffective training.
As funds for developing your staff can be squeezed, especially at times like this then self directed learning allows the funds you do have to be used in areas that person has a high desire to improve in and will impact the business.
When we have a high desire, we’re more receptive to the input, and in applying it. And because they choose what they learn, when and how, there is a greater level of commitment.
In fact, over the last few months, I’ve taken on clients who are investing in themselves, even though the company they work for has frozen all budgets. How’s that for self-directed learning, they’re even funding it.
And they already see fruits of their investment, such as.
- Creating a vision and selling it to their CEO, spearheading the future of the business.
- Reducing stress levels in the team and getting resources from senior leaders for their project, which until then had been undervalued.
- Increasing their remote leadership skills and keeping their team feeling connected, productive and resourceful.
How to Support Self-Directed Learning
Supporting the learning itself is just as important whether it’s self-directed or not. Here are some ways to encourage learning.
Encourage them to implement something they’ve just learned. And to repeat it a few times.
Rarely do we get it right the first time and we certainly don’t get it ‘in the muscle’. Nerves that fire together wire together. And so in order to get those nerves firing and wiring practice is required.
How can you encourage more practice? This reinforces the 70:20:10 principle of learning.
Speed and Time
Remember the hare and the tortoise. Well in the case of learning both win, neither is better than the other. We learn in different ways and at different speeds.
Coach the person to help them maintain momentum in their learning journey. That way, in your coaching conversations, you’ll ascertain the pace that enables them to practice and keep confident and motivated.
Also, check that they’re carving out time and protecting it to do their learning.
Enhance and Embellish
Yes, self-directed learning is something which individuals take on themselves, and it shouldn’t mean you’re surplus to requirements or frozen out.
I’ve mentioned coaching them, and you may also offer to mentor them or through delegation offer them an opportunity to take their learning and practice further.
You may know of others learning a similar skill and suggest they form a group to share insights.
And Finally – Lead The Way
I know we’re back to walking your talk, being a role model.
Plus great leaders never ever stop learning. To quote Stephen Covey, it’s about keeping your saw sharp.
Right now, I have several clients who are increasing their ability in resilience, remote leadership and coaching.
Often when things get very uncertain or chaotic, it clearly highlights to us what’s next for our improvement so we can be the best leader for our team right now.
The leadership development we do at blue pea POD is designed for your needs; it isn’t cookie cutter or theory, which is why there are a high engagement and ROI both for the person and the business.
You may remember that earlier I said I’ve taken on clients who are investing in their own learning even when the company had frozen budgets. I’ve also had conversations with people who’ve said they couldn’t invest in their development because the company had frozen the budget.
The thing is that when life and business kick off again, and it will, these people are going to be competing against people, like my clients, who have used this time to develop themselves.
So what’s the edge for you?
Until next time
Go and be the difference in leadership