Posted by: Bill von Achen | December 29, 2009

Informal Learning May Be Best

According to some estimates, corporations and companies in the United States spend over $50 billion annually on formal training programs. But, while there is no shortage of formal training resources available, executives typically fail to recognize and exploit the most common and widely-available source of work-related training.

The Education Development Center of Newton, MA recently completed a multi-year study that dissected the learning activities of more than 1000 employees in several major companies, including Motorola, Boeing and Ford Electronics. Their findings? Nearly three-quarters of all learning at work is accomplished on the job, typically in informal settings.

According to the Center, most on-the-job informal learning occurs through participation in the following work-related activities.

Teaming: Task forces and project teams provide an ideal opportunity for employees with various skills to work collaboratively to address problems.

Meetings: Regular meetings offer a forum in which information and expertise is shared among the participants.

Customer interactions: Customer comments and feedback can frequently offer solutions to pressing business problems.

Mentoring: Formalized mentoring relationships between novice and experienced employees can speed learning for new recruits.

Peer-to-peer communication: Casual, daily interaction among employees at all levels is, in itself, an effective source of informal learning.

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