Liberate Workplace Learning from the Schoolhouse


Workplace learning is not like school, and we do not benefit from the comparison. Yet we in the Learning & Development field constantly communicate what we make and what we do in those terms. We are not here in the workplace to build colleges, we are not here to build courses or libraries of reference materials. We are here to help build a workforce.

Building a workforce means helping define the cultural guardrails, so that it’s a safe place for everyone to work. It means helping the business tools and processes become easier to use and follow. It means helping people get from where they are now in the organization to where they want to be by leveraging their own drive and curiosity and creativity.

By liberating ourselves from playing school and trying to pretend that we serve everyone, we can truly serve the people we’re aiming for as if they matter. Because they do! It is our job to serve organization as a whole by serving the people within it. It is not our job to turn every hiring mistake and jaded manager into a top performer or team player or a better person.

We can be the best learners around, and lead the way for others to follow. We can keep our focus on what real people are really doing when they work, and we can help the organization itself make corrections by passing on what we’ve learned about the people there and how they work.

This is nothing like the schooling I received. You?

We who work in workforce learning exist to help tune the engine that powers every organization: people. Most of the time, it means not getting in their way, and preventing others from doing so no matter how nicely (or sternly) they may ask. Sometimes it means making new things that help people do or be more.

When you think about it, it’s the opposite of school, where we got credit for being there. In our post-academic world of the workplace, we get credit not for being in training but for producing measurable results on the job. This is what we in L&D facilitate, and that is why we matter to the organization.

There’s a space below to contribute your comment. I’d love to see it :)

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