Learning Isn’t Just For Learning At Work Week

As I write it’s Learning at Work Week here in the UK and that set me thinking about how much learning takes place without there needing to be a formal structure to it.

I can think of so many instances where I have learnt something which I have then been able to apply in my own work. As an example I well recall being in a meeting where the discussion was getting quite heated and noticing how the person chairing the meeting dealt with it to diffuse the situation and leave all parties happy. That was real learning at work which I was able to observe, reflect on, implement when I encountered a similar situation and then evaluate the learning that had occurred.

Now, I am not suggesting that for Learning at Work Week you go in search of heated discussions in meetings! However, I want to look at some ways in which you and I can learn without having to participate in a formal “learning” event.

Start With a Personal Learning Journal or Portfolio.

Learning at Work is not a simple A to B journey from a single goal to a single outcome, it is a process of continuous discovery and a Personal Learning Portfolio or Learning Journal helps you to keep track of and reflect on what you have learnt and discovered as you progress. You might be thinking that it seem a little time consuming to record your findings and thoughts but I have consistently found that being able to revisit the notes I have made over the years has sparked new learning and new avenues to investigate so it is something I highly recommend to you.

Engage With Your Colleagues

Talking to colleagues about what they are doing, what they have learnt or discovered, how they have tackled issues and so offers a wealth of opportunities to learn from them. People love to talk about their successes and as you establish a rapport with people they will be more open to talking about the failures that led to their successes. Engage with your colleagues at work and talk about how they overcame problems, what approaches they took to particular issues and challenges and how they managed to deal with them. Look around you now, if you are reading this at work, and just consider for a moment the amazing opportunities for personal learning that are available from the collective experience and knowledge of your colleagues!

Chat with them about their experiences, so that you can learn from past problems, develop potential solutions and work towards improving your performance – both as an individual and ultimately as a department or organisation.

Informal Group/Social Interactions

Following on from this idea of learning at work by talking with colleagues, there are many ways to use social, informal learning to interact with others in the workplace. If there are a group of you who would like to learn about the role of an individual within the organisation or perhaps discover how someone deals with their challenges then why not invite them to a lunchtime or after work session with a whiteboard in the staffroom? It can be a great way to share ideas and to learn new things. The results achieved are not just about personal, individual gains; the group effort can also improve interpersonal skills and even help with communication between departments.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Obviously you are keeping up to date with what is happening within your own workplace and staying on top of the goals of the organisation and the challenges it faces. However think about expanding your horizons,to keep up to date with news and events in your industry as a whole.

This can be done in many ways: social media is a great tool for engaging with other in the industry which I talked about in my post Social Media for Learning. But in summary, online discussion groups with others in similar roles offer an informal forum for discussion, news outlets are a constant source of up-to-date information and blogs can offer insights on potential trends and forecasts with alternative viewpoints. Gather as much information as possible and don’t be put off by the source – speculation on a niche blog from a real professional in your industry can be a great way of learning new things and stretching your mind.

I wrote about taking up the opportunities which many organisations offer to learn new things outside of work. If that is something that appeals to you and you want or need to learn aboout project management, public speaking, leadership and much more do take a look at A World of Learning Opportunities.

Enjoy Learning at Work week if you are in the UK! Take the opportunity to start the incredible journey available to you and remember Learning isn’t just for Learning at Work Week – it’s for ever!

A World Of Learning Opportunities With JCI

I have quite often talked about JCI (Junior Chamber International) and the opportunities that it presented me with. It opened up a whole world of learning opportunities for me and helped me to develop many of the skills which I highlight on my CV Website at Paul Duxbury – Learning and Development Professional.

I have always been a keen advocate of people taking responsibility for their own learning opportunities especially if they are keen to progress in their careers. If you haven’t considered getting involved in something like JCI then let me tell you a little about it and my experience of being a member.

Junior Chamber International is one of the largest non-political and non-sectarian youth service organizations. It is an international organisation for men and women between the ages of 18 to 40 which has the aim and purpose of creating positive change in the world. They provide the opportunity to develop management and leadership skills through practical involvement in projects complimented by formal training sessions, conferences and other activities.

During my time as a member and in time a local, regional and national officer I was involved in projects which enabled me to develop and improve my knowledge and skills whilst at the same time contributing to improving the communities in which we worked. From being involved in, leading or organising training conferences, Manchester’s Lord Mayor’s Parade, The Outstanding Young People Programme, Prison Visiting, Schools Public Speaking competitions I was able to develop many skills as I took advantage of the world of learning opportunities which JCI offered.

I had the opportunity to hold various offices including Local Chamber President, Regional Group Chairman North West; National Awards Manager, National Public Speaking Project Manager, National Chamber Development Director and National Assigned Officer to Northern Ireland. Each of these roles afforded me the opportunity to learn and develop skills in public speaking, project management, team leadership and development, networking and negotiating and so many more.

JCI also offered me the opportunity to gain recognition taking part in National Debating Championships and National Public Speaking Championships and to train as a Trainer with JCI delivering training locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. I was also awarded the highest JCI Accolade a JCI Senatorship in recognition of the level of involvement and contribution to the organisation.

I credit JCI with enabling me to move into the Learning and Development profession at a management level. I well recall that when I applied for my first Training Management role I was competing with nearly 100 other applicants. Almost all of them had a formal Institute of Training and Development qualification and I was one of the few who didn’t. However, the experience and knowledge I had acquired through JCI coupled with my commitment to seeking out learning opportunities secured me the role.

So if you are open to learning opportunities why now take a look at JCI UK or if you are outside the UK start at JCI. You will discover a world of learning opportunities and you will not regret it!

Why A Learning and Development Blog?

Why a blog about personal development or learning and development when there are so many of them already? That’s a question that has occured to me a number of times when I have thought about creating a site about my passion for Learning and Development.

However, as I have been talking to various people over recent weeks it became clear that this was something I both wanted to do and needed to do. It’s many years now since my career focus moved into the learning and development arena and throughout those years I have discovered an immense amount about both myself and others.

I started my career in Banking, back in the days when it was an honourable profession! During those early years I discovered Junior Chamber International (JCI) which is a management development organisation. The thing that fascinated me about them was it gave members the opportunity to learn by

  • getting involved in practical projects such as organising the Manchester Lord Mayor’s Parade;
  • to learn about leadership and management through taking on leadership roles within the organisation such as I did by becoming Local President, undertaking National Project Manager roles, Regional Group Chairman and National Director

All of which was complimented by formal training inputs to put practical learning into a theoretical context. I also had the opportunity to train as a Trainer with JCI and was to go on to deliver training on a local, regional, national and international level and to work with some amazing people such as John Adair.

It was through JCI that I first encountered Honey & Mumford’s thinking on Learning Styles which I found fascinating. It was as a result of my practical learning and getting to grips with the theory behind it that I secured my first role as a Training Manager.

Ever since then my roles have been focused on learning and development, enabling others to achieve and seeing the spark in someone’s eyes when they “get it” – whether that be through formal training delivery, continuous learning in the workplace or working with them as a Coach.

My focus has always been on making learning come to life by grounding it in practical reality. I keep myself up-to-date with the theory of learning and indeed of late I have been honoured to become a Fellow of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning alongside being a Member of the Learning and Performance Institute and a Member of the Chartered Management Institute. But! Everything I do is focused on enabling people to learn and gain insights into themselves by keeping it simple!

That therefore is my aim with this blog about Learning and Development. To make learning and learning theory interesting, informative, enabling and accessible.