It is not enough to simply create social learning programs. Social learning must be integrated into the culture of the team in order for it to be effective. This requires making connections, identifying star team members, encouraging questioning, and recognizing teaching moments. By creating a culture of learning, the team will continue to improve and grow.
Making the Connection
A culture of social learning requires team members to make the connection between working together and success, which is called collaborative learning. This culture of collaborative learning requires all members of the team to work together as equals. Encouraging people to learn from each other creates this type of learning environment. Sharing and learning is facilitated by providing opportunities for communication and working together, such as:
- Formal meetings
- Online sources
- Informal meeting spaces
- Team projects
Each team is unique and will have to determine the best ways to facilitate collaborative learning.
Tagging Star Team Members
Your team members are your best chance of increasing the success of social learning. When team members share their expertise, the entire organization will benefit from their insight. The first step to accomplishing this is identifying and tagging star team members. A star team member is anyone who goes above and beyond.
Traits of Star Team Members:
- Exhibit company values
- Set standards
- Problem solvers
- Handle criticism
Once star team members are identified, they should be tagged to take on the role of a SME (Subject Matter Expert). SMEs are able to perform specialized tasks with expertise. The tasks can include: software, accounting, technology, etc. Tagging star team members for the role of SME requires discovering their expertise and determining if these areas of expertise can benefit the organization. If the team member, for example, is an expert in social media, he or she can benefit the company by sharing that knowledge.
Recognizing Teaching Moments
Teaching moments are often more effective than the traditional teaching methods because they are more organic learning opportunities. Taking advantage of teaching moments requires recognizing them. A teaching moment can occur at any time, and it is a chance to teach through demonstrating skills or sharing information. For example, someone who understands how a computer system works can coach a person he notices having problems with a program. Teaching moments occur every day, it is important to keep an eye out for moments when you can teach others. These moments are essential to social learning success.
Culture of Questioning
Nurturing a culture of the questioning is like nurturing a plant. If the culture is nurtured, the questions asked will grow, bloom, and produce new questions. Asking “why” when it is appropriate will actually contribute to the conversation and help generate new ideas. There are a few ways to help instill a culture of questioning in your team:
- Team members should admit when they do not know things.
- Taking risks should be rewarded.
- Encourage team members to ask effective questions.
- Teach team members how to question and generate ideas.