Reflections on the workplace as a learning environment


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This is to show how reflection can be used as a performance management tool. Integrity has a reflective tool available to facilitate the use of reflection at work

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  • Good afternoon and thanks you for the opportunity to share one way of reflecting on the workplace as a learning environment. There are four main things that I want to talk about today, and the first is workplace learning? What do we mean by workplace learning? Is there a common understanding of what we mean by workplace learning? The second is the role of workplace learning which links directly with the learning culture of a workplace. The third is the transformation of workplaces to learning organisations, and the fourth is the use of an evaluative management culture in workplace learning. By this I mean the culture which comes from within a workplace environment, sits well with an organisational approach to capacity building, that is building from within the workplace
  • By the end of the presentation I will have provided you with another view of workplace learning, learning organisations and organisational learning and explored the value of knowledge organisations. How do we assess the effectiveness and efficacy of workplace learning and create learning opportunities at work? I hope that you have some ideas and thoughts about how by creating these learning opportunities how evaluations studies can help to inform effective workplace practices that facilitate workplace learning. I hope I will also leave you pondering that in this super complex world that work has to become learning and learning has to become work.
  • So moving right along… what is workplace learning? Probably more importantly, what is effective workplace learning? Obviously if learning in the workplace is effective, it has achieved its purpose. I would argue that
  • Learning organisations can be described are those that have in place systems, mechanisms and processes that are used continually to enhance their capabilities to achieve sustainable objectives. So what does that mean? The key points in that definition is that learning organisations are changing organisations which means they are : Adaptive to their external environment, and use this knowledge to improve organisational effecivness Continually enhance their capability to change and adapt to create useful information for the organisation Develop collective as well as individual learning, and disseminate this effectively There is ample literature that
  • A learning culture has a free and open exchange of information to ensure that expertise is available where it is needed and individuals network extensively, crossing organisational boundaries to develop their knowledge and expertise. This enables them to respond and adapt to external change more quickly A learning culture has a commitment to learning and professional development which has support from top management. People at all levels are encouraged to learn regularly and learning is rewarded. People at all levels are encouraged to take time to think and learn through understanding , exploring, reflecting and developing) Probably the most underrated part of this commitment to learning and personal development is that of reflection. Reflection can be simply thinking about events or situations but reflective practice that draws out learning is a dynamic process that can involve writing, detailed discussion with colleagues, further reading etc and has been recognised as an essential component of workplace learning A learning culture values people. That is it values ideas, creativity, innovation and imaginative capabilities that are stimulated, made use of and developed, and recognised diversity as a strength and there is an openness to challenge different viewpoints in a climate of respect and trust A learning culture will learn form experience and therefore perform better and survive longer than organisations that do not have a learning culture The culture of the workplace as a learning environment is important in assisting and enabling people to recognise and articulate their workplace learning. Learning and development are much more likely to occur where different workplace processes and practices has support from managers, and mentoring and peer review can be used to foster the culture of a learning organisation where learning is valued as a means of enhancing the organisations value add and individual development. A learning culture has a future, external orientation where the organisation develop an understanding of their environment, are able to anticipate change, and spend time to think strategically about the future
  • A learning organisation is not about more training. While training does certainly help certain types of skills, a learning organisation will usually involve the development of higher levels of skills and knowledge. Theses could described in four tiers of learning: The first tier is learning facts, knowledge processes and procedures. This is typically the type of learning that occurs at an induction or orientation to a new organisation or job The second tier is about learning new job skills that are transferable to other situations. This is typically used in new situations where existing responses need to be changed and a mentor might be used to assist with this transition The third tier is learning to adapt, and this applies to dynamic situations where the solutions need developing, so experimentation and deriving lessons from what worked and what did not work so well is the mode common way of learning here And finally, learning to learn which is about innovation and creativity, designing the future rather than merely adaptive to it. This is where assumptions are challenged and knowledge is reframed. However, a learning organisation will always provide learning opportunities. Obviously learning opportunities vary for different people and different jobs. Creating learning opportunities is a case of spot the opportunities for learning inn the jobs of those in your organisation
  • There are new dimensions in the dynamics of learning and knowledge in the model of traditional work versus knowledge organisations. There are a myriad of ways that in which learning as dynamic process occurs in organisations, so there are links between learning and knowledge creation. The nature of work in a knowledge organisation or ‘knowledge’ work is fundamentally different from we have traditionally known, and consequently requires a different order of thinking. It requires new structures and processes, as well as changes in in many areas and type of work, with implications for performance measures, career prospects, and skill and knowledge sets. Gone are the days where performance measures were measured against the length of time of employment and the more miles on your tyres, the greater the likely hood of promotion. Gone are the gold watches, and in place are the comparatively short career moves people make now where loyalty to the firm is not even considered. Instead, knowledge organisations now recognise that an organisations wealth lies indeed in the heads of the employees. In line with this realisation, the move to the knowledge era has bought about significant changes in organisational structures, strategies, cultures and patterns of workplace interactions. Having said that Candy, 1991 states that approximately 90% of organisational learning
  • How and when do we use evaluative thinking to improve decisions? Evaluative thinking drives the systematic improvement of strategies, interventions and business practice in the Managing for Outcomes Model used in the New Zealand Public Service to create a management culture that is facts-based, results-orientated and open. A recent review of the New Zealand State Sector found that the use of evaluative thinking to inform strategy, policy, service delivery was patchy, and there was a need to build an effective management culture in workplace learning. This capability was described in joint report ( Doing the right things and doing them right: improving the evaluative culture of the State Sector. Joint Treasury and SSC report 2003). So what is the current state of knowledge about the integration of evaluation into organisational culture? Current literature shows that research in this area is underdeveloped (Cousins, et al, 2004)
  • It is generally accepted that individuals learn throughout their lives and that much of workplace learning takes place in workplace settings
  • There are many theories of workplace learning, probably the most common being experiential learning as described by Kolb’s learning cycle
  • So in summary, reflecting on workplace learning and learning organisations there are few commonalties that spring to mind about how to create learning opportunities within an organisation. The first is it is important to identify potential formal and informal learning opportunities. That is learning needs of individuals are identified in relation to the needs of the team, the organisation, and the available learning opportunities The second is that learning plans are developed and implemented as an integral part of the individual and team performance plans. This means that strategies are devloped to ensure that learning plans reflect the diversity of needs in the workplace The third is that learning organisations will always maximise individual and team access to and participation in learning opportunities which enhance individual, team and organisational performance We live in an age of super complexity; that is a world characterised by contestability, challengability, uncertainty and unpredictability. Therefore, work has to become learning and learning has to become work.
  • Reflections on the workplace as a learning environment

    1. 1. Reflections on the workplace as a learning environment Dr Maggie Roe-Shaw Presented at the Australian Evaluation Conference in Darwin, Northern Territory 2007
    2. 2. Overview of presentation <ul><li>What is workplace learning? </li></ul><ul><li>The role of workplace learning </li></ul><ul><li>What are learning organisations? </li></ul><ul><li>What place an evaluative management culture in workplace learning? </li></ul><ul><li>- Creating learning opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>- Facilitating and promoting learning at work </li></ul><ul><li>- Monitoring and evaluating learning effectiveness </li></ul>
    3. 3. Presentation outcomes <ul><li>Another view of workplace learning </li></ul><ul><li>Another view of learning organisations and organisational learning </li></ul><ul><li>The value of knowledge organisations </li></ul><ul><li>The use of an evaluative management culture to assess effectiveness and efficacy of workplace learning </li></ul><ul><li>Creating learning opportunities at work </li></ul><ul><li>Approaches to enhance the timing and focus of evaluation studies to inform effective workplace practices that facilitate workplace learning </li></ul>
    4. 4. What is workplace learning? <ul><li>“ the formal acquisition of skills and knowledge in the workplace” (Tertiary Education Commission NZ, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Creating sustainable new knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding workplace learning are becoming more clearly linked to the development of knowledge workers and learning organisations </li></ul><ul><li>Is the recognition that learning occurs through activities and experiences in the workplace </li></ul>
    5. 5. The role of workplace learning <ul><li>Shift in thinking of workplace learning as a cost to seeing it as an investment </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in the organisational structure of tasks in the workplace to ensure: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improvement in current job </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve quality of goods or services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respond to new technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop a more flexible workforce </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve employee safety in the workplace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Smith, 2000) </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. What are learning organisations? <ul><li>Learning organisations are changing organisations because they: </li></ul>Create useful knowledge for the organisation Disseminate this knowledge effectively Use this knowledge to improve organisational effectiveness
    7. 7. So learning organisations… <ul><li>Have a learning culture that enables them to: </li></ul>Are better able to anticipate change Respond and adapt to change more quickly Perform better and survive longer than organisations that do not learn so well
    8. 8. Living learning organisations…… <ul><li>“ The essence of organisational learning is the organization’s ability to use the amazing mental capacity of all its members to create the kind of processes that will improve its own” (Dixon, 1994) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Organisations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together” (Senge, 1994) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Professional socialisation: organisational learning <ul><li>Professional socialisation provides an individual with the knowledge, motivation and ability to play a defined role in their workplace </li></ul><ul><li>Organisational socialisation provides a process for individual’s to learn the values, norms, and required organisational behaviours, to participate as an effective member of that organisation. It occurs throughout the individual’s career in the organisation </li></ul><ul><li>Occupational socialisation provides a process to identify what others in their occupational group learn and how they learn it </li></ul>
    10. 10. Traditional work vs. knowledge organisations (adapted Despres & Hiltrop, 1995) Skills and knowledge sets Narrow, functional and prescribed Specialised, flexible, diverse and with diffuse foci Focus of work Tasks, objectives and performance measures through formal policies, systems and practices Client/customer focussed where informal practices, symbolic actions and evaluative beliefs, values and attitudes are important Performance measures Length of employment, loyalty to the ‘firm’ Professional development, continuing education Career prospects Rising through the organisation through seniority and miles on the clock External to the organisation with best practice in organisational culture change
    11. 11. Evaluative management culture <ul><li>How do we monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and efficacy of workplace learning? </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluative management culture in workplace learning is where the organisation has a culture whereby both policy and program managers in the development and implementation stages of workplace learning integrate evaluation into the organisational culture (Ryan, 2003) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Creating learning opportunities at work Formal education as a learning opportunity Can be in-house, university papers or courses, undertaking research, distance learning Self-directed learning as a learning opportunity Reading journal articles, updating knowledge via the internet or library Opportunities within the job as a learning opportunity Coaching mentoring, peer review of practice, job rotation, involvement with the wider organisation, project management work, supervision, reflection on day-to-day practice, informal discussion with colleagues, secondments Opportunities outside the job as learning opportunity Job rotation, visits to other centres/sites, conference presentations, secondment
    14. 14. Monitoring and evaluating learning effectiveness <ul><li>Top managerial buy-in and commitment to evaluative thinking about workplace learning including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resourcing and planning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to influence decision making </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational performance measurement strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turning findings into action </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communicate the importance of evaluation: the relentless pursuit of the truth about quality </li></ul>
    15. 15. Concluding thoughts <ul><li>Workplace learning seeks to create a learning system which incorporates the needs of the industry, the organisation, the division and the individuals within the organisational culture </li></ul><ul><li>Work has to become learning and learning has to become work </li></ul><ul><li>Work and learning are not synonymous: they are different concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Learning organisations that have a workplace learning culture are more likely to have a workplace that improves performance (Smith et al, 2002) </li></ul>
    16. 16. Comments or questions?