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While technology is often interpreted as the deus ex machina (god from the machine), the direct involvement of a manager is the de facto turning point of any successful personalised learning strategy.
“No matter how good your training is, when an employee walks out of the room, comes back to his desk and realises he has 80 emails he needs to follow up, he immediately goes back to his comfort zone. That is why the involvement of his manager is crucial,” says Simpson Wong, learning and
development director at Pandora.
When Pandora employees register for a course on the e-learning platform, their request goes straight to their manager, who is encouraged to discuss the applicant’s focus, the course outline, and the part of the course they should pay extra attention to, before approval is granted. The manager will also report the conversation to the human resources team to track employee performance.
After the course, the manager will sit down with the employee and reflect whether they have achieved their learning goals, and most importantly, how they can put what they have learned into their work.
At Alva Hotel by Royal, a personalised learning path is important. Shortly after each recruitment, each department head is requested to assign a mentor for the new hires.
“Mentorship is the best. Apart from the extra attention, mentees feel like they can be the successor and that empowers them. We make sure each mentor has no more than three mentees,” says Joeland Lo, talent development manager at Alva Hotel by Royal.
The personal touch of a learning programme doesn’t stop here. Both Pandora and Alva Hotel by Royal outsourced some of their L&D groundwork with external parties, that is, a learning management system and a vendor, but that is all.
Pandora creates all the learning materials on the e-learning platform from scratch, based on real-case scenarios, and updates them every month. Most of the senior leaders at Alva have a coaching background and are especially familiar with the course materials the vendor provides, so they can make sure the materials are relevant.
“We constantly evaluate whether our courses are practical or not. For example, the popular keynote presentation course might not be right for Pandorians because we seldom need to do stand-up presentations. Instead, we have cross-country conference calls on a day-today basis, so we need courses with similar skills such as how to engage the audience or negotiate,” Wong says.
The end game
Conscious and unconscious incompetence can make huge differences in learning. Centuries ago, ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was named by the Oracle of Delphi as the wisest man. In Socrates’ search for ‘smarter’ people with different professions to refute the theory, he realised that the key to his wisdom was the consciousness of his own ignorance.
Likewise, when it comes to workplace learning, the responsibility lies within the individual, and selfconsciousness can be the key.
“Building a learning habit takes time. First, employees need to have the acumen to address a circumstance as a learning experience. Conflicts and mishaps are unavoidable, but these can be a breakthrough for employees if they can turn that into reflection: Can this be prevented or how can I be better next time?” Wong says.
He said a learning habit is formed only when the employee decides to initiate a transformational action.
“Our role is to constantly remind employees that everything can be a learning experience; and to be able to present different learning options when the employee is ready to grow,” he added.
“It is crucial that they own the learning, not us.”