There may be no “I” in team, as the saying goes, but there is definitely an “I” in learning. When it comes to professional development, learners should be at the center of their own learning experience – identifying their learning needs and finding solutions to close skills gaps. A culture of self-directed learning empowers employees to grow their skill sets and contribute toward business goals.

The desire to learn is universal – despite myths that suggest learning is only important to younger generations in the workplace. All employees want to learn. And the effectiveness of that learning is amplified when the training is delivered in a modality that the learner prefers, according to Training Industry research.

Continuous learning is needed to keep up with the pace of change in today’s evolving business world. The ability to learn, unlearn and relearn are necessary skills to remain agile and adaptive – and they are only growing in importance. In fact, the World Economic Forum listed active learning as a top skill to master by 2025, highlighting the critical role learning plays in employee and organizational performance.

The shift to remote work has required employees to take greater control over their learning and development. As challenges arise on the job, employees seek out information to solve their problems. To ensure learners are finding the right information, L&D must develop a learning strategy that provides necessary resources to employees in the flow of work.

Here are a few tips to create a culture that embraces self-directed learning and empowers employees to grow:

  • Promote the benefits of learning: Self-directed learning requires a significant amount of initiative and motivation on the part of the learner. Get employees excited about managing their own learning journeys. The effectiveness of a self-directed learning culture hinges on the employees’ recognition of the need to learn new skills, as well as their motivation to close skill and knowledge gaps. Employees ultimately want to know how learning will benefit them. By addressing this question, L&D can increase learner buy-in and engagement.
  • Increase manager involvement: Self-directed learning provides employees with the flexibility to select what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. While this is certainly a benefit to learners, managing your own learning journey can be challenging. To maximize learning effectiveness, managers should be involved to ensure employees are focusing on the right skills and helping them apply new skills on the job.
  • Utilize the right tools and technologies: Technology provides endless access to information. With so many new technologies on the market, the buying process can be overwhelming. To streamline decision-making, L&D should select tools that fit the unique needs of their organization.
  • Provide access to resources: Having a robust library of learning resources is great, but if learners don’t know where it is, then it’s useless. Ensuring employees have access to training content is a necessary step in a learning strategy. Utilizing learning experience platforms or learning libraries can help to organize learning resources in one central location.
  • Foster peer-to-peer learning: Social learning is a big part of the learning experience. Creating opportunities for employees to connect and share experiences can provide a meaningful network of support. These opportunities could include discussion boards, communities of practice or a library of user-generated videos of employees sharing insights.

A culture of self-directed learning empowers learners to manage their learning experience. As the rate of change continues to increase, lifelong learning is going to be key to employee and organizational success. Moving forward, organizations must prioritize active learning to develop an adaptive workforce that is ready to pivot.

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