Monday, June 12, 2006

Informl Learning a Solution for Reticent, MIA Upper Level Managers?

I did a presentation for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce last week on workforce development (specifically: diversity and performance planning systems) for their HR for Small Businesses Series. Although the topics may seem divergent, the overall theme of the talk was that people are the only sustainable market differientator. Two management tools I recommended are multicultural marketing and a balanced performance management system. Regardless of the rhetoric we hear from Washington, an impending labor shortfall increases the probability that the US will make up its shortfall through immigration or visiting worker programs. Customer bases will change, as will the labor pool. Small businesses should be thinking about how to diversity their workforce, adopt a multicultural marketing strategy, and use sound performance management principles. So much for the take-aways from the talk.

During the Q&A, a seasoned consultant in the audience asked how to get C-level and mid-management level people into training classes. "They are too busy and don't want to admit they may don't know already." I gave the pat answer: "Starts at the top," but in retrospect, it was an insufficient answer.

Seems to me that informal learning may be a better answer. Assuming the C-levels and mid-managers are capable, high-achievers, self-starters, and are expected to be self-directed, an informal learning infrastructure may be the ideal environment for them.

As I explore informal learning, I am finding it to be particularly enriching. I am having fun going in my own direction, at my own pace, on my own schedule, and in ways that are consistent with my objectives. I suspect that would also be appealing to upper level managers, who would likely prefer the moniker and image of life-long learner to trainee.

I am curious about the social aspects of learning and how that can be done informally. As I pursued the blogs and participant information of my cohorts this weekend, I did not feel a personal connection to the other participants of Unworkshop2. Perhaps that will come in time, or maybe it is my tendency to be an online lurker ... Can a lurker be social? Can a lurker learn? Are lurkers and social networks mutually exclusive? Would executives more likely be social learners or lurkers?


Post a Comment

<< Home