Is training same as learning?

As a training organization or a supporter and provider of training in your company how you approach the need for training? Is it thought through to understand the end learning objective? Is it discussed and analyzed with the requester on what the end goal is? What is the level of authority you have in it to influence as to what needs to be developed? Are you the consultant for training programs or just executor? If you pretty much execute based on the training programs requests received then you most likely create training programs which may or may not be meeting the end goal or objectives of learning? Well, what is the difference between “training” and “learning” any way?

Here is Wikipedia definition of ‘Learning’:
Learning is acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves. Learning is not compulsory, it is contextual. It does not happen all at once, but builds upon and is shaped by what we already know. To that end, learning may be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of factual and procedural knowledge.

Training is a structured process which is designed to provide new skills, awareness and knowledge, e.g. New-Hire training programs in an organization for making sure that the employee gets trained on company policies, procedures and tools. Learning occurs based on individual’s action which could be based on using the training and demonstrating it on a job, applying it in day to day life, researching things online to understand and/or solve a problem. Training is when the company sends employees to take courses or on-the-job training while learning is when the employee takes the initiative to develop himself and share the knowledge. Hence another way to look at it is that training is about the organization and learning is about the person.

Training without vision and structure to meet the end objectives is just a “check mark” on an organization checklist of delivering training and it may meet the organization’s goal of compliance trainings or may meet the guidelines of ‘X’ hours of trainings by organization to employees, but is it meeting the employee performance development objective? If not then it may be just a means of filling time for both individuals taking the training and the departments developing and delivering these training programs.

Many organizations when they want to develop their employees or want them to learn new way of doing or handling things they typically tend to recommend training classes for them or in other words drop them into classes and expect the employees to be well trained and learned once the class is over. As we all know that only 10 percent* of learning comes from formal training and hence the investment made in training programs may bring to some extent basic work skills but it doesn’t usually deliver the expected learning results.

What is needed for the organizations is a strategy to support and augment the training they deliver by reinforcing the takeaways by performance support structure and system. Culture needs to be created where right people are hired mirroring company’s values, and they feel motivated and empowered to keep current and innovative and they learn at point of need. Companies need to introduce and foster opportunities to expose employees to new paradigms and inquiry models where they can work cross-functionally and can collaborate and innovate and learn. It’s safe to say that the organization’s job is to structure (manipulate) people’s environment in such a way that we are directing what their mind is exposed to with the hope the right learning responses are activated.

* – Per 70-20-10 model developed by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger

Author: Praveen Khurana
Praveen Khurana is a learning technology specialist and specializes in learning management and human capital systems. He has 14+ years of experience in this industry and has consulted with and has implemented learning, talent and knowledge management systems for many fortune 500 companies.

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About Manish Gupta
Manish is a very strong IT leader who consistently and reliably delivers complex yet flexible solutions for key business initiatives. He is a leader who applies vision to planning, discipline to deliverables and recognition to high-performing teams. Manish is very well respected by peers and staff alike and has earned the reputation as a leader who can turnaround failing projects, invigorate dispirited teams and refocus disparate efforts to deliver for the business when timeframes are tight and quality must not be compromised.

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