After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Effective Use of Learning 2. Reason for Learning 3. Process 4. Traditional Theories 5. Learning through Training 6. Learning the Culture 7. Working Together.
Effective Use of Learning:
“Any relative permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience.”
We learn at all the times, sometimes we realize it and sometimes we do not. Learning is the discovery of meaning. In the early stages of life there is strong tendency to reject the imposed learning, they learn by doing things by themselves. As young children the learning responsibility rests on them only, they relish being taught but prefer to select what they want or need to learn.
Gradually this freedom diminishes and selective learning takes place. The responsibility for selective learning is swiftly lifted from the child to be replaced by teaching. The child’s need to seek meaning for one self is reduced. The challenge for the teacher is to prompt learning in the more structured environments.
These children grow up in such environments and one day enters the work force. They experience a bout of emotions when the learning is replaced by training. This training is to learn the things that are required to do our jobs, the organizational structure and various personal issues and many liberties and responsibilities besides performances and out puts.
For an individual there is very little that is on his terms, parental expectations are replaced by the anticipation of the managers and there is ever growing need to contribute to the wellbeing of the organization through effectiveness and performance.
Reason for Learning:
People will give different reasons as to why they must learn. As students you have some reasons, as worker or as manager there must be some different reasons to learn. Unless you have logical reason there will be no learning and if still done it will lead to nothing but waste of time and money.
As students ask yourself why you joined MIB. what you wanted to gain out of it. If your answer is logical, you will definitely learn otherwise at the end of the session you would be wondering to find answers.
As a worker there are many reasons to learn many things, let us consider few of them:
1. Like the job, and, want to learn as much as possible to be more productive effective and efficient.
2. Expectancy for higher salary.
3. Expectancy for promotion.
4. Chances for change of job.
5. Desire for taking more responsibilities
6. To overcome some handicap or weakness.
7. To add on to the existing level of knowledge.
8. Desire to be better informed as compared to your colleagues.
9. Want to be recognized.
10. Want to increase your self-confidence.
11. Want to acquire new techniques.
12. To create new challenges.
13. Want to increase your market value.
14. Have lots of spare time.
Process of Learning:
As students the answer is very simple, joining a course and learning from the teacher and reading from the books and/or reference material. But as a member of a work force your ways of learning changes depending on the organization and where you stand in it.
Still there are some general pointers, which help you to learn what you want to learn, like:
1. Joining a training program.
2. Asking questions to people around you (colleagues, superiors, counselor’s etc.).
3. Discussing the issue with person with knowledge and/or experience in that particular field.
4. Referring to books and/or manuals.
5. Studying the case histories.
Above steps will help in gaining the knowledge but how you retain it for repetitive usage is the next problem.
There are simple steps for this problem too, like:
i. Making mental notes.
ii. Making written notes.
iii. Repeating things orally or in mind.
iv. Discussing with colleagues.
v. Guiding someone else who is deficient in that knowledge.
vi. Remembering by association.
vii. Practicing it for gaining perfection.
Triechler in 1967 said that we learn:
i. 1 % through taste.
ii. 1.5% through touch.
iii. 3.5% through smell.
iv. 11 % through hearing.
v. 83% through sight.
After learning, the next step is how to remember what we have learnt.
The more generalized understanding is that we remember:
i. 10% of what we read,
ii. 20% of what we hear,
iii. 30% of what we see,
iv. 50% of what we see and hear,
v. 70% of what we discuss,
vi. 90% of what we discuss and repeat, and
vii. 100% of what we discuss repeat and repeat frequently.
Somewhat similar situation is found when we are exposed to some training program, for skills improvement.
Consider the following graph:
In the above graph, OX axis represents the practice time, OY represents the skill levels, OABC is the learning graph. OA segment represents the skill-learning phase. AB represents the phase at the end of the learning session, it is moving down wards meaning if the person does not practice the skill level tends to decrease and drops down to original level on the OX axis represented by BD.
However if practice continued then the phase of perfection comes represented by BC and the skill level improves to a new level. The phase represented by A A’ is a plateau stage when the person feels stagnation despite undergoing practice but this a apparent phase, growth is there in real terms but is not visible due mainly to the higher expectations of the person at the beginning of the practice session.
Similar situation occurs in studies, students at one time feel they are not learning enough even after serious studies but sooner they realize their actual level has in fact increased much above to what it was couple of weeks back.
The sportspersons also undergo similar situations. The change in skills is brought about by the practice. The behavioural science also makes use of this phenomenon to bring about change in behaviour.
Traditional Theories of Learning:
There are three theories that explain the process, by which we acquire the learning:
1. Classic Conditioning:
The conditioning theory states that an individual responds to the stimulus that would not invariably produce such a response. Learning a conditioned response involves building up an association between a conditioned stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus, one compelling and the other neutral.
The neutral one becomes a conditioned stimulus and hence takes on the properties of the unconditioned stimulus. This is a passive theory. At first something happens and then we react to it. The Pavlov experiment with the dog is the famous example of classic conditioning.
2. Operand Conditioning:
It is a type of conditioning in which desired voluntary behavior leads to a reward or prevents punishment. Our behaviour is a function of its consequences. We learn to behave to get something that we want or avoid something that we do not want.
Operand behaviour means voluntary or learned behavior in contrast to the reflexive or unlearned behavior. Rewards are most effective if they are positively reinforced for doing so, if not, then it is less likely, to be repeated.
3. Social Learning:
We can learn through observation and direct experience by observing what happens to other people. Influence of models is central to the social learning. Generally students take a particular teacher as their model, or employees take the manager as the role model.
4. Positive Reinforcement:
Positive Reinforcement is a powerful tool for modifying behaviour. Identifying and rewarding performance-related behavior can increase its repetition. Re-enforcement is more effective tool than punishment.
Punishment behavior tends to be suppressed temporarily rather than a permanent change. The punishment act also produces resentful nature in the person who is punished against the one who punishes. Punishment method is also conductive to lower-moral conditions, higher absenteeism and employee turnover.
Learning through Training:
The task of the corporate trainer is to provide opportunities for learning in most effective ways. There is always a reason for learning newer skills. Every activity is an opportunity and we learn them in different ways. The general understanding is that no one can make any one to learn. The person chooses to learn by his own will.
But learning to learn skills which ones acquired means a better way of doing things which otherwise we would be doing but not so efficiently. In the corporate culture the learning and training go hand in hand. Here students must understand the difference between learning and training.
1. Training is supply driven whereas learning is demand driven.
2. Training calls for compliance but learning for initiative.
3. Training standards are well defined whereas learning is a dynamic phenomenon.
4. Training generally takes place outside the daily routine but learning takes place as part of the daily routine.
5. Training emphasizes the need for increasing the input for getting better output, but learning is just the reverse of it.
Learning the Culture:
There are many forms of organizations, from the simplest structured to highly complex departmentalized. Each has its own definitive culture, which influences the behavioral responses from the people working within its reach. The structure is the base on which the culture stands.
This structure wields such a powerful influence over the working conditions, its permeation into culture is inevitable. Culture is probably more difficult to rationalize than structure because of the intangibility of its composition. Contrary to the structure, the cultural component of the organizations is so powerful that it can induce people to join, do their utmost for its growth or even leave it.
Culture is based on beliefs, values, and behaviors. It starts from the top and permeates below to the last level. It tells people in the organization what to do, how to do it, and what is acceptable and what not.
The cultural component of the organization has two forms, one, which is inherent to the structure of the organization (managerial force) and the other due to the interaction of the people in the organization (management plus work force). Both are inter-woven and inseparable and represent an environment.
The performance of the organization will depend whether the environments thus created are conductive to achieving effective performance and continuous improvement or non-conductive. How this can be done effectively?
It can be done by applied commonsense by the management in day to day work environments, some of which are mentioned below:
1. Treat your people, as you would wish to be treated.
2. Inculcate team spirit for working together.
3. Show firm commitment to quality and all work-related activities.
4. Apply performance standards and regularly have pre and post review.
5. The flow of communication be made smooth and effective, both horizontally and vertically.
6. Communicate organizational objectives effectively so that those who must know, know them well and with sufficient concentration.
7. Let the code of conduct be universally applied.
8. Expose your people to training and learning, frequently.
Let us discuss some of the above points. The first one is perhaps the most common and is often repeated years over years in our daily and work related activities. We generally strive for equity between efforts and rewards, the reward portion being most important for they can originate from various sources.
Basically they are of two types, one which is given to us by others called the extrinsic rewards, and the other which is generated in our own perception, called the intrinsic reward.
Salary and other money related income:
ii. Transport facilities,
iii. Hours of work,
v. Lunch break and facilities,
vi. Paid holidays,
vii. Retirement benefits,
viii. Job security and safety,
ix. Canteen facilities,
x. Welfare services,
xii. Health facilities,
xiii. Legal facilities,
xvi. Working place,
xvii. Training and learning opportunities,
xviii. Opportunities for higher/professional studies, and
xix. Appraisals and feedback.
ii. Personal development,
iii. Growth within the organization,
iv. Control over the job,
v. Influence over the outcome,
vi. Satisfaction in meeting the agreed goals,
vii. Sense of belonging,
viii. Feeling of being valued,
ix. Knowing what you are expected to do,
x. Knowing what you are doing,
xi. The leader being interested in you, and
xii. The leaders in the organization being open and honest with you.
It improves the net impact on the outputs. Organizations are but collection of various teams assigned different jobs directed towards well-defined corporate goals. The organization’s responsibility is to provide opportunities for building effective teams who work together to achieve satisfactory net outputs.
The organization’s efforts should be to organize and strength the teams in a concrete and positive way so that they contribute positively towards common/specific goals.
Some organizational initiatives should be to create a climate in which the various teams:
i. Share experience, knowledge, skills, and expertise with other teams.
ii. Be willing to learn/share the experience from the others.
iii. Are aware of the-activities outside the organization.
iv. Look at the competitors to know their impact and devise strategies for better performance.
v. Dedicate work and efforts for the interests of the organization.
vi. Show sportsman spirit amongst the other teams.
vii. Show importance for the other teams.
viii. Work towards zero defect culture and mean it by actions and results.
ix. Do not work against other teams.
x. Take and share responsibilities.