Workplace Learning And The Role Of HRD

Maud works as a self-employed person and performs interim positions within the business services. At the moment, Maud has a management position in which she opposes that her employees regularly express resistance to changes that she wants to implement. Maud has therefore registered for a training 'dealing with resistance'. She is going to have a difficult conversation with an employee tomorrow, so the training is actually 'too late'.

How can we make sure that someone like Maud can learn what she needs when she needs it?


In our practice, we see that people increasingly no longer work within one organization or function, but where they offer added value. Recognizable? Employees must perform more complex tasks and comply with higher qualification requirements due to technological developments, changes in the market and new organizational models. This requires greater flexibility. Just think about Maud. She would benefit from opportunities to learn at the moment she feels the need to develop herself: prior to the difficult conversation she is going to have and not only during the training.

If employees like Maud learn self-directed at the workplace, they reinforce fluid skills (skills that help develop along with them). They can then take responsibility themselves for their learning process, take initiatives to learn and reflect on approach and result. And also: apply different learning strategies, learn by working together and apply what you have learned in practice. A beautiful and strong development that does require something from the working environment.

Role of the work environment

In what way can the work environment stimulate self-steering behavior? For example by giving employees autonomy. Give them the freedom to attract certain challenging assignments. In this way they take responsibility for their learning process. The learning of successes and mistakes made is also part of this. In the case of Maud, this could mean, for example, that she is going to experiment with different conversation techniques during difficult conversations. Some will be successful, while others will not take away the resistance of its employees.

The ambitions and / or objectives of the organization can give direction and meaning to learning: where do we want to go and what is needed for this? Finally, it helps employees to receive regular feedback and feedback on their efforts. This is included under 3 Rs: Direction, Space and Back support.

Familiar model offers modern insights

The model of situational leadership provides insight into how 'to give guidance to learning' in the workplace. An important question here is: what does the learner need to manage in learning? The answer can be found in the balance between supervised and self-directed learning. What is needed for this balance is determined by the extent to which the competencies for self-directed learning have been developed (task competence) and the degree of motivation for learning (willingness to learn).

The next step is to shape the workplace-learning adaptive. The four development levels that result from the model of situational leadership provide direction in this. The competence for self-directed learning is equal to the development levels. The motivation for learning starts high, then decreases due to the first setbacks experienced by the employee and gradually builds up from there. In order to stimulate the development of employees towards the latest level of development, it's important that HRD contributes to a favorable learning climate.

Creating learning culture & role of HRD

What can HRD do to stimulate a learning culture, for example for Maud? For self-directed learning in the workplace, trust is required that learning will arise from the curiosity and need of the employees themselves. HRD will continue to give direction to learning, but will facilitate it. For example, by creating a feedback culture in which making mistakes is seen as an opportunity for learning. But also by making formal learning possible (training, e-learning, content, etcetera). HRD can support managers of the learners in organizing the learning process in the workplace and coaching on the creation and planning of learning experiences. Think of the joint learning and exchange of best practices.

Do you want to create a learning climate based on direction, space and back support? Then ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the degree of self-management of the employee?
- How motivated is the employee?
- Is the direction sufficiently clear: what is the ambition of the organization or the team? Does learning have a clear place here? Do the learning objectives match the organizational objectives?
- What is the vision of learning from the organization? To determine and organize back support, it's important to know to what extent the organization can provide for this. Is there time and attention? Can the employee decide when and how much time he spends on his development?
- What are the technical preconditions? Is there an LMS? Is there performance support? Does an employee have a computer at his / her disposal? Etcetera.

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