Lifelong Learning: Away with the old habits!


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The ideal case of learning looks like this: We not only learn how to solve a particular problem, but also how to approach new problems in the second step and deal with them independently. Help for self-help, so to speak.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Employees who work independently are cheaper in the long term!

Example: Computer course: A completely theory-driven seminar, in which Excel is explained, does not help, if the participants are not given the opportunity to find their own way of working and independently solve problems.

This is the only way employees learn to deal with the computer on their own and to adapt the program's workings to their own work - by adding new formulas and applications.

On the other hand, if the employees are only given a standardized explanation of how the program works, they will be crying for support for every little problem in the future. That should be more expensive in the long run than once a reasonable training.

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Learning works best in the familiar environment

Equally important, Excel, to stay with the example, is always explained to employees in terms of their own work: some applications will need them all the time, others rarely - and forget about using them.

Because that is the second reason why learning is so important in the workplace: the workplace is a familiar environment for most people, and what they have done so far is usually best known , And that plays a decisive role in learning success: every experience, every sensory perception generates an activation pattern in the brain, a perceptual image.

The brain uses existing interconnection patterns

The brain is now trying to activate an already existing interconnection pattern of the nerve cells, a kind of memory image that somehow fits the new activation pattern. If both images match, the new perception is dismissed as known.

If no agreement can be established between the new impression and impressions already stored, nothing happens, the information is immediately forgotten.

People only learn things that fit their way of thinking!

Only when the new activation pattern matches well-known memories will we learn. Because then the old pattern is opened, extended and redesigned until the new activation pattern can be integrated into the now modified reminder image.

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This means that people can not perceive everything and can not store it at all, but only what somehow fits their previous ideas and experiences. And that also means, in fact, that knowledge can not be passed on, but is re-created in every brain.

To connect to the known

When Company If they want to motivate their employees to further training, they must ideally build on already known knowledge. On the other hand, employees must also be motivated - for example, by a promised concrete reward. And: It's good if one person shows the other how it's done!

The thing with the connection to known knowledge works best when the employee learns “on the job” - or at least on a model that comes as close as possible to reality. The motivation that employees need can come in a number of ways:

How does it work with the reward

For instance, by the superior, who promises them a more interesting task, a promotion or a higher salary as a success of further education.

Or through a trainer explaining to a participant in individual coaching at work that using this computer program will greatly simplify workflows based on their particular level of expertise.

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Abstract reward brings little success

If the reward is too abstract (“somehow it will be good for your career”) or too far away (the promotion takes place after a year), the brain cannot relate the training to the actual improvement. It therefore does not save that you have been rewarded for an effort - and there will be no positive effect in the future.

However, if the reward is directly linked to learning, then the employee is motivated to continue learning independently, such as by developing new applications for the computer program that make his work even easier. From now on, he learns in the do-it-yourself process for his career.

Further education must become more individual

In order to achieve this, however, some changes are necessary: ​​above all, it should be clear that continuing education is much more focused on the individual, his individual knowledge and his personal talents.

The best form of learning is certainly a training on the job, that is, a one-to-one training directly at the workplace, as has been the norm in vocational training for a long time. An experienced colleague, supervisor or trainer communicates his knowledge by explaining and proving it - and the employee does it. And he also gets a constructive feedback right away.

Further education - when one shows the other how it's done!

It is also possible that employees support each other for learning over a longer period of time. In this way, they are both learners and teachers - this creates a kind of constant best-practice exchange.

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In any case, it is important that the supervisor clearly defines the goals of further education - and acts as a role model.


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