3 Ways to Change Attitudes Toward Learning and Development

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Let’s face it: Years of poor training initiatives have left both employees and managers disillusioned by the process of learning and development. In fact, some may consider training a necessary evil, rather than a professional tool. Those negative opinions can sour an entire training program, resulting in disengaged learners and lackluster results. For better output, L&D pros must first get to the root of negative attitudes and restructure programs so participants actually want to, you know, participate.

Necessary Evils

The blame for negative attitudes toward training could be placed squarely on the shoulders of L&D professionals of the past. Training is often seen as a necessary evil because they’re the ones who have made it that way, creating mandatory programs that are required for employees to advance within the company. When training is tied to actions like employee evaluations or bonuses, the learners are only motivated by the reward and not the subject matter. Instead, they take a “Let’s get this over with” approach to any program, knowing that they can’t progress without getting it checked off of their to-do lists.

Changing attitudes is a matter of altering the way employees and management view training. Rather than something to get out of the way, they must view learning and development as a task where they benefit directly.

Changing Attitude

By focusing on workplace culture and the chains of command, it’s possible to make training more effective through better attitudes and in turn, increased engagement. Here’s how:

1. Integrate into Workplace Culture

Rather than spotlighting training as a one-time event, L&D pros should make learning a regular process within the company. It’s a cultural thing: When a new employee starts with an organization that values regular learning achievements, he mimics that attitude. Instead of being a necessary evil, learning becomes a part of professional development instead of just another job task.

2. Highlight Employee Benefit

Some (read: many) employees have a “What’s in it for me?” mentality. When training is perceived to be for organizational benefit only, engagement levels drop. Instead, it’s vital to point out the benefits to the individual actually taking the training. Badges, certificates and recognition can help integrate training into learners’ work-life balance, helping them to achieve goals and improve employability.

3.  Align Strategic Objectives

The L&D department shouldn’t be limited to compliance training and licensing tasks only. Instead, a more holistic view of talent management empowers L&D to align programs and training to organizational strategy. When L&D is better tied to what’s happening on a departmental level, it’s easier to cut the fat and give learners the training and development they really need. Training becomes more effective and learners perceive it as more valuable.

While changing organization-wide attitudes toward training definitely won’t happen overnight, taking steps now to improve the efficiency of talent management and training makes for a good start. Integrating learning into the workplace culture makes training less of a necessary evil and more of a professional tool for growth and development.