Claire Boucher

If you’re responsible for the learning and professional development in your company, then you know the frustration of employees who drag their feet and seem to resist every eLearning course you send their way. No matter how important the learning is, it feels like a never ending struggle and your time is wasted hassling your colleagues. 

It doesn’t have to be that way! With a few key strategies, you can create a company of self-directed learners. 

What’s so great about self-directed learners?

Self directed learners are motivated to initiate their own learning because they understand the intrinsic value of learning and upskilling. They don’t need ten emails from their HR department reminding them of the deadlines on their eLearning courses, because they’ve already finished. Already, they’re saving time and mental load for others.

Self-directed learners are endlessly valuable to a company. As they upskill they apply their learning to their work, propelling their teams forward with new approaches to old problems. They aren’t content with dated procedures and constantly pursue fresh strategies that can lead to ground-breaking leaps forward.

1. Don’t ruin a good thing.

Learning should be a joy, not a chore. Humans are naturally wired to enjoy gaining new knowledge and understanding. The fastest way to kill that joy is through dull, rigid and rote learning. The impact is shallow, forgettable learning that wastes everyone’s time. Instead, use simple techniques like narrativisation, gamification and SMART learning goals to create engaging, memorable learning.

2. Make the value obvious.

Chances are, past less-than-positive experiences will make your learners wary towards your digital learning programs. You’re pushing uphill, but it’s nothing a little determination can’t fix. Use extrinsic motivations to create intrinsic motivation. Try starting a little healthy office competition that rewards the top scorers with prizes competitors will be actively interested in receiving. This might look like certain office privileges or food rewards. Set up a scoreboard in a central place in the office with daily position updates. Back this strategy up with engaging learning modules with genuinely useful teachings.

3. Find your trendsetters.

Self-directed learners can be critical culture-creators. Team leaders have the important role of showing that new ideas and self-directed learning is valued and rewarded in team settings. Actively encourage your best learners to share the resources they find and pursue the new ideas they bring to the table. With the right nurturing from team leaders, they can turn around the culture of the office from stagnation and boredom to innovation and excitement.

4. Recognise what’s already in front of you.

There’s a reason you hired the people on your team, and hopefully it’s because they had unique and valuable experiences to bring to your organisation. Often, the best and most engaging sources of learning are right under your nose. With software like How Too, you can turn your learners into teachers by encouraging them to throw together a quick digital learning course on a topic they’re an expert in to share with their colleagues. It’s a quick way for your learners to feel like their expertise is acknowledged and appreciated, a critical factor in employee retention. Furthermore, it prevents the siloing of knowledge, insulating your company from knowledge loss if an employee leaves.

Now sit back and relax.

Remember, people naturally enjoy learning when you aren’t placing obstacles in their way. Start with high quality, engaging learning modules, then foster a culture that rewards new ideas and with a little time, you’ll have a company of self-directed learners.