Do you ever feel fatigued in your role but don’t have the time to study outside of work? Here at OITC, we believe allowing our team to learn within the workplace is essential to retaining exceptional people. As constant learners, we need to be able to challenge ourselves to gain new experiences, insights, and skills. Learning within a workplace should be a necessary, on-demand and fundamental element of any development plan.
Here are our tips for learning on the job (without pissing everyone off – management included!)
Find the right challenge. Ask yourself what skills, behaviours or actions you need to develop to be more effective. What do you need to learn for future responsibilities and opportunities? What are your strengths and gaps? Before you jump into a new role or task, define what you want to learn from this new challenge. This is a chance to take yourself out of your comfort zone and make you think harder about the work you are doing.
Look into short assignments outside your role description or department. Be social and active within the workplace and talk to people outside of your department, find out if any teams are in need of your practical expertise. Are there staff events or group activities that you could lead, assist with or organise? Our advice is to look for assignments that broaden your knowledge of the business, or industry or simply make you feel more passionate about coming to the workplace.
Look at the possibility to reshape your current role. If you feel there are gaps or missed opportunities in your current role, map out your ideas, keep track of what you’re currently doing day-to-day and quantify your suggestions and take them to management. Suggest modifying the boundaries of your tasks by taking on more or fewer responsibilities or by changing how you perform them. Alternatively, you might offer to take on a task normally assigned to a more experienced coworker to test your capability. This is your opportunity to build out your ideal role – so don’t be afraid to ask!
Lastly and most importantly, talk openly to your manager. If you have a manager who’s open and interested in your growth, find an opportunity to talk to them about why you want to take on new challenges. Be transparent about the skills you want to learn or improve. Pitch several suggestions about the tasks that interest you and ask them for their input. Work together to analyse which responsibilities have the most promise, are mutually beneficial, are less disruptive to others and develop a plan from there.
If you’re an employer here is why you need to encourage learning on the job for your staff:
- Knowledge is everything – The more employees know and the more skills they have, the more they can add to their team and the wider business.
- It’s cost-effective – Investing in the development of your existing employees is less expensive than re-hiring and re-training new employees.
- Its reaffirms that staff are valued – Continued support and encouragement will show staff they are worth the investment and will create an environment where everyone thrives and performs at their best.