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Inspiring Others to Keep Learning

Wednesday, June 5, 2013
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Keep Learning Even with Tight Budgets: Individual Development Planning Using a Blended Learning Approach

How can one L&D professional inspire 37 HR employees to conduct over 100 learning activities in 30 days?  Let me share how I did it within my organization by implementing The Keep Learning Challenge.   

Keep Learning with Tight Budgets Power Hour

Periodically, my organization has one-hour sessions for HR employees on HR-related topics.  Last month, I conducted a one-hour session called Keep Learning Even with Tight Budgets to inspire HR employees to take charge of and invest in their own growth and development.  The session began with encouraging employees to shift their thinking from viewing individual development planning as a “check-the-box” activity to seeing it instead as part of a long-term career development process.  If this shift in perspective is embraced by the employee, it can lead to the creation of a quality individual development plan (IDP). 

IDPs are required for each employee within my Department.  Employees tend to just check the box, since many employees and supervisors lack the knowledge and skills to approach employee development more strategically.  In my one-hour session, I challenged them to move beyond that mental model. 

During the session, the conversation moved to The Keep Learning Challenge

The Keep Learning Challenge

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As I shared in a previous blog post, I created The Keep Learning Challenge as a fun way to engage our HR professionals to invest in their own development.  The Challenge provides 37 no-cost ways to learn!

The object of the game is to complete as many L&D activities as you can within 30 days.  Once employees sign up, they receive an “I Took The Keep Learning Challenge” ribbon to display at their cubicles.  This inspires others to take The Challenge.  Once they complete learning activities, they send me an email sharing what they learned and proof that they completed the activity to receive HR Bucks, which can be redeemed for small prizes and serve as a visible symbol of achievement.

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Their learning accomplishments are then posted on an electronic bulletin board, so that everyone within the organization can keep track of each person’s status.  Employees also can receive Double HR Bucks and awards for completing certain learning activities.  To inspire others to take The Challenge, I send weekly emails to highlight and celebrate learning accomplishments of the participants.

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Our HR professionals have taken The Challenge seriously.  Some people get really engaged in serious, friendly competition as they try to become the organization’s Top Learner.  As a result, over 100 learning activities have been completed including registering on HR University, creatingand/or revising IDPs based on supervisor discussions, taking HR-related online courses, such as employee relations, staffing, benefits, etc. 

Some of the employees who have taken The Challenge have this to say…

“I’m super excited!”

“I typically do my learning during lunch.  Since I don’t normally take my lunches away from my desk, I just use the time to view a video or read an article.  When winding down at the end of the day, while getting prepared for the next day, I’ll use that time to learn.  It’s not hard.  Even if you do it once a week, if it’s important to you, you’ll put in the time!”

“Woo hoo!  This is actually a lot of fun!  I’ve never took an approach to learning this way.  This might sound goofy, but it feels really good being able to cross off a square on my Learning Challenge Game Board!”

“You are inspiring me to do better”

“You’ve created quite the competitive environment (in a good way)!” 

“Honestly, I never took my IDP serious because management never made a fuss other than completing one.   I got a greater appreciation [from] attending your training class and found it's very important to complete.”

“Your professionalism and passion for workforce development really shine through!”

One Person Can Make a Difference

Here’s what I did to inspire employees to learn…

  • Demonstrate your passion for learning.  When others hear you talk passionately about learning, they get inspired…it’s infectious.
  • Make it fun.  Friendly competition keeps learning interesting and engaging.  Games are always a plus as long as they’re focused on clearly defined learning objectives and goals.
  • Make it easy.  Incorporate learning into real work.  Have attainable learning activities that can be done at lunch or during a break. Some employees conduct learning activities at home.
  • Provide tools and resources.  After the Keep Learning Even with Tight Budgets Power Hour, I conducted a one-hour session (which has been expanded to 2 hours to allow time for IDP quality reviews) called Let’s Work on Your IDP for those employees who took The Challenge.  The mini workshop focuses on creating a high-quality IDP and provides a rubric for assessing the quality.  In addition I developed a Career Development Guide for HR Professionals which includes The Roadmap for Success (a tool for planning your IDP).   Each tool was created to support continuous learning.

Next Steps: The Keep Learning Challenge Toolkit

I’ve learned throughout this blog series that when you help others learn, you create growth opportunities for yourself.  I didn’t realize that I could have such a positive impact on employee development, just by being a passionate learner myself.  As a result of the positive experience that I’ve had with my organization, I have been inspired to start working on The Keep Learning Challenge Toolkit to help other L&D professionals like you implement challenges in your organizations.  I believe that collectively we can have an even greater impact on employee development and inspire others to learn.

About the Author
ASTD Field Editor Deadra Welcome, CPLP, currently works as a senior learning and development strategist in the federal government and is the president and CEO of Concerning Learning. She has more than 22 years of learning and development experience as a strategist, business partner, program manager, instructional designer, and facilitator. In 2011, Welcome wrote Using Passion to Become a True Business Partner for the July 2011 edition of T+D magazine. In March, 2012, she successfully completed the President’s Management Council Interagency Rotational Program as an inaugural participant. Welcome has been a guest presenter for Bowie State University, ISPI-Potomac Chapter, and CBODN Government SIG as well as a guest blogger for the ASTD Government Community of Practice; deadrawelcome@gmail.com.
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