Individual Learning Within Organizations

“Individual learning is defined as the capacity to build knowledge through individual reflection about external stimuli and sources, and through the personal re-elaboration of individual knowledge and experience in light of interaction with others and the environment.” (Learning theories: individual learning 2000).

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When an individual is working alone, which is very rare, learning is comparatively easy when compared to working with a group or team. He or she has only to learn what is required individually. It can include the knowledge about the skills required for the individual’s skills or profession, dealing with clients and other people that the person associates with etc. But in most cases, an individual will have to work within a team setting. He or she will be usually working in a department with colleagues, superiors, and other employees. In such instances, learning to work within group is also very important.

There are some relevant factors that affect individual learning within organizations. There are some skills that have to be compulsorily learnt by an individual employee in an organization. These are mainly related to his or her job requirements. But there are certain other skills which are facilitated to be learnt, but is left to the choice or the option of the employee. They can include factors like development of soft skills, communication skills, the ability to understand others, the ability to be a team member or a team leader (if required), imbibing knowledge for the purpose of advancement etc. These are only some examples of skills that are available to employees to increase their skills. In other words, there are four broad areas where employees can try and increase their individual learning. They are increasing knowledge, improving personal skills (in the above mentioned areas), developing their attitudes, and being in charge of their emotions. These factors will be discussed one by one in detail in coming sections of this paper.

Knowledge

The derivation of knowledge is education, experience, research, training, personal reading and research. Knowledge expresses Understanding, familiarity, realization, comprehension, truth, conception, wisdom, intellectual capacity, erudition, expertise, learning, insight, skill, intelligence and perceptions.

Education is very essential for every individual. It is developing personal skill and knowledge. Education for individual development builds up personal qualities such as flexibility, creativeness, openness to experience, and responsibility. Earlier concept of education is that moulding of person rather than the development of knowledge. The development of an entire educational atmosphere must be guided by a total personality theory and social theory. Personality theory is connected with student activities in classrooms. This theory was expected to point out what are the characteristics influencing on persons and how these characteristics affected by forces from the nature. A teacher has very significant role in education for individual development. A good trainer helps built up students self believes and self knowledge that is very essential for development schools should give an importance of tracking the improvement of individual students-and student should realize that what they are going to achieve. The parents are playing another important role for student’s individual development. Parent should more concentrate on student’s progress and about their homework such as using internet, texts, or e-mails. Education is playing a key role in corporate business or any organization. It provides high intellectual skills which helps employee or business person to take a self decision at proper time, self reliability, and handling the operation independently.

Experiential learning mainly classified into two types. Learning by your self and experiential education are the two types of experiential learning. Learning experience by yourself is known as nature’s way of learning. Learning by yourself also known as informal education and contains learning that is prepared learners themselves. Experience is another significant area of knowledge. No one can survive without experience in today’s life. Experience which helps to built up a bright future in your carrier. Experienced persons have always demand in all segments. The effective reasons of experiential learning is Equality, disequilibrium, Meta learning, decreased time cycle, common language, diversity of strengths, projective technique, fun, encourage risk taking, kinesthetic imprint, chaos and crisis in a safe environment, and developing relationship quickly.

Most of the companies are conducting training program for their employees recently. Training is playing a vital role in every person’s life. Training and development helps the employees to constantly meet their goals. Staffs in companies are busy with their works like marketing, research and complaint handling, etc. they can not perform well without adequate training. Therefore training is very essential in all industry.

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A good trainer can make good impact on employees at the time of training course. They are always very good coaches and a good teacher. The training assists employees to bring out their ideas and performance in order to reach organizational accomplishment. Training helps trainees to understand their roles and responsibilities. they can recognize their strength and weakness. Training facilitates employees to handle tough tasks in their organization. Training is providing and receiving positive feedback. the other applications of training are increasing work place harmony, enhancing employee’s productivity, reducing cost, reduced cycle time, customer satisfaction, improving quality of work life for staffs and increasing internal strength.

Personal reading it improves the knowledge. Reading is an amazing way of study about life and universal. Personal reading and research will help you the person to analyze the things without the help of others very effectively. Personal research and reading is helping you to drive the organization independently. Personal reading and research, that provides a good balance between play, entertainment, humour and knowledge.

Skills

The generic term skills can cover an extremely broad area that cannot be included here. But certain skills that pertain to individual learning within and organizational setting will be covered here. Some of the relevant skills that an individual can imbibe in this setting relate to communication, speaking, technical, research, and intellectual skills. Other areas include understanding and interpreting body language, developing creativity, and interpersonal skills.

Communication skills

Communication is an important aspect in any setting whether an individual is a part of a society, or an organization. This is especially important in case there are more than one individual involved. In most organizational and social settings, team work is important. The quality of communication is important even within individual families. For example, a growing child has to be communicated with in terms of how to understand and make sense of the world around him. Most people think of communication as speaking or using words. But for communication to be effective, there are many other factors involved. They include intonation when speaking, the body language and the actions of the speaker and the level of language used.

For example, when speaking to a lay person, using highly technical language is not at all effective. In such cases, the speaker has to have a vocabulary level that can lucidly explain technical terms in a way that is understood by the listener (lay person). Communication experts are of the opinion that probable less than ten percent of verbal communication is actually understood or grasped by the listener. Understanding of the balance ninety percent is through changes in tone (intonation) and using of hand and other body signals (body language). This aspect is very important when communicating important of complex matters. The experts say that a telephone conversation or even an email communication will not be effective in such situations. When communicating such matter, as far as possible, a face to face meeting is recommended. Only if it is not possible to have a direct meeting, then other methods of communication are to be resorted to.

Speaking skills

This aspect is related to what has been written in the previous section with regard to communication. Speaking is one of the most commonly used methods of communication and is probably the most effective. Hence one of the most important and practical skills that an employee can develop is increasing his speaking skills. This fact can be easily understood by a student from his or her own classroom. Some tutors have the ability to keep up the interest and attention of the student while others do not have the ability to do so. Personal experience in the classroom is enough to prove this fact. The most interesting teachers will modulate their voice, keep the language simple, and use a lot of hand and body gestures when they teach. This can make the classroom sessions interesting even if the subject or topic is quite boring. A good speaker can grab the attention of listeners for long periods of time thereby increasing the level of communication to a great extent. An employee who is really serious about increasing his or her speaking skills has the option of attending professionally run courses for this purpose. Another important factor here is practice. A person should take all the available chances to speak in front of people. It is when a person is able to communicate effectively to a group through his or her speech that speaking skills are developed to a maximum. A person can tape whatever speaking has been done and listen to it later in private. This practice can be used to improve diction and modulation.

Technical skills

This might be the most easiest to learn simply because the job or profession of a person demands it. Unlike other skills where an employee has an option of not learning, technical skills have to be learnt or otherwise the person may loose his job. He or she may not even get a job in the first place. What most colleges and universities do is to imbibe technical skills to students so that they may get a job that is suited to their capabilities. Many organizations have training programmes for employee especially when they are initially hired. Competent organizations try to continuously upgrade technical skills through well chalked out training programmes. When an employee on his or her own initiative tries to improve technical skills, he or she becomes more valuable to the organization. Alternatively it will be easier to find better employment opportunities. Technical skills can include areas not directly related to the job or profession of an employee. For example, a clerk can increase skills with regard to information communication technology (ICT) even if it is not a prerequisite to current requirements.

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Research and intellectual skills

Both these skills are dependent on the attitude and the intellect of individual employees. In the case of the former, only certain jobs and profession usually require skills in research. For example, a scientist or a physicist or an economist can benefit from improving such skills. But developing this skill in any area of work may be beneficial to an employee. The person can offer valuable and practical suggestion to employers if a high level of research skills exists within them.

Interpersonal skills

In an organizational setting, this is an extremely important skill that can be developed by employees. This is one of the best skills that can be used to climb the corporate ladder. Having good relations with team members can work wonders within an organization. Such persons that have high level of interpersonal skills will also be accepted as a colleague or even leader by other employees.

Skill in interpreting body language

This again is a highly useful optional skill that can be used to self development within an organization. The study of body language is officially termed as kinesics, and an interested employee can take a course in the same. This skill is very useful to understand the true emotions and feeling of others. The true feeling can be usually understood even if the speaker does not communicate verbally the true feelings within them.

Creativity

This is another skill that can be useful for many employees. This is more relevant is certain jobs or professions. An accountant may not have the need for creativity. But a person working with an advertising agency (e.g. copywriter) will benefit greatly from possessing high creative skills.

Emotions

Emotions play a powerful role in the life of individuals whether they are a part of the society or an organization. “Recent advances in the neurosciences in the last ten years have revealed the extraordinary complexities and fundamental effects of emotions on brain plasticity, learning, and living. These theories highlight more than the cognitive element, they explore the DOMINANT power of emotions and intentions on learning.” (Learning orientation research overview 2004).

It can be seen from this quote, the power of emotions that influences a person’s behaviour with respect to his or her actions. In other words, understanding and controlling ones’ emotions can be highly productive for an employee with respect to his own development and also with regard to the contribution to the organization. It can also mean that a person who is not able to understand and control his or her own emotions may find that self development and contribution to the organization can be negatively affected. There also appears a close relationship between attitude, behaviour and emotions. People with strongly developed attitudes can control their emotions and behaviours. On the other hand, those who are not able to control their emotions will reflect on their attitudes and behaviours. For example, a short tempered person may get angry at small things which will reflect in that person’s behaviour towards colleagues, subordinates, and superiors.

The range of emotions that a human being can experience is too diverse and complex to be explained here. But some of them will be reviewed briefly to show how strongly emotions can influence individual learning of an employee. Emotions can be positive and negative. Negative emotions can include hate, jealousy, shame, superiority, etc. Positive emotions can include cheerfulness, friendliness, capacity to understand and like other people. Some emotions can help a person to grow while others help in bringing sadness and failure into the person’s life. For example, a feeling of shame, guilt, inferiority etc can be very bad with regard to learning and advancement within an organization. These negative feeling can drain a person of energy to go out and learn what is necessary for personal and organizational growth. Likewise, some emotions can bring happiness in a person while others can bring sadness. Some persons are naturally cheerful or at least make an attempt to do so. Such persons can easily be a good learner if he or she feels the need to do so. It is often said that even if a person is feeling depressed, feigning happiness and cheerfulness can bring about a change in the person’s attitude. This is the reason why laughter is seen an effective therapy with regard to pursuit of good health. There are even laughter clubs in many countries where people gather together at a particular time and laugh even if they do not feel like doing so.

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Determination is another positive emotion that can help a person to achieve great success in life. If a person is determined about something, then learning towards achieving it will not be a problem at all. It should be noted that some emotions can be termed as attitudes or behaviours also. For example, determination can equally be termed as an attitude as well as an emotion. Those people who are thankful of the good things in life and focus on it rather than on the misfortunes also possess positive emotions. There are some persons who are not emotionally moved by success. But for most people, the emotion that comes from achieving something can be a great motivator towards making him a good learner. People who genuinely like other persons and in turn enjoy being liked by others also are those with positive emotions. People who are oriented towards peace are another example of positive emotion. Other positive emotions that contribute towards individual learning include confidence, enthusiasm, and sense of fulfilment. But it should be noted that there are certain positive emotions that can stand in the way of individual learning. Being contented in life may be good for the person’s health and well-being. But a contented person will not be motivated to learn for the benefit of either himself or his organization. That person will be happy with the current state of affairs and hence will not feel the need to change life in any way.

Feeling depressed, alienated, disillusioned, or disheartened are negative emotions that will stand in the way of individual learning and growth. Once these emotions get hold of people, they will not be in any mood to engage in activities like learning. The basic reason is that learning is primarily for personal and organizational growth. These emotions stand in the way of growth and hence will result in a feeling the learning is not necessary for them. Negative emotions can also be categorized as attitude or behaviour. For example, a person who easily gets depressed, the emotion can also manifest itself as an attitude. This attitude or emotion will in turn affect the way he or she behaves towards others. It will also affect the way a person treats the self.

Attitude

There is an age old adage which says that “it is the attitude and not the aptitude that ultimately determines ones’ altitude”. “Attitude can be defined as a “mood” or a “state of mind”. Though not generic or innate, it can be influenced by surroundings. Will a positive attitude give me a brighter future? Almost everything is enhanced by a positive attitude: your career (money factor), human relationships (happiness factor), and chance of reaching your life goals. You win in all directions.” (Pigford 2000, p.6). These two observations given above can illustrate the power that attitude has in influencing a person’s life. A positive attitude can create a winner while a negative attitude can create a loser. This is despite the fact that the person with the negative attitude may be more capable in terms of knowledge, emotion, emotion, and skills. In other words, of the four human attributes that influences individual learning, attitude is by far the strongest one that should be pursued by a person. The power of attitude is so strong that so many self-help books, articles, speeches and programs have evolved over the years. Some notable examples are ‘How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie, the ‘Magic of Thinking Big’ by David Swartz, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill, and the more recent “The Monk Who sold His Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. All these books among many others stress the importance of having a positive attitude towards everything in life. A positive attitude is so strong that it can even change the way events happen in life.

It is not sure whether good things come into life or whether such events are noticed more easily by a person with positive attitude. But whatever may be the case, having a positive attitude is one of the best things that can happen to a person’s personal and professional life. Another great thing about attitude is that it can be learnt and made a part of life through practice. The disadvantage is that with time, negative attitudes can also be acquired due to circumstances and other factors. For example, a person who begins to live among a bunch of people with poor attitude and emotions will soon begin to acquire similar traits which will overpower the positive attitude once seen in him. But even under such circumstances it is possible to maintain a positive attitude with the help of books, tapes, videos, and other materials that can be seen in plenty in today’s complex world. A person with positive attitude will look at learning in a positive way. If he or she feels that a particular learning program will be beneficial to him as well as others, there will be hesitancy in pursuing it. Self hypnosis and auto suggestion are other techniques that can help in bringing about a change in attitude towards the positive.

Of the four skills mentioned above, the strongest is to develop a positive attitude. This attitude can help in control over emotions. It can also motivate a person to develop his or her skills in many areas. It will definitely help in motivating a person to acquire more knowledge in areas that will be beneficial for personal and organizational success. Once the attitude is set, all other factors will follow. All these in turn will help a person with regard to his or her individual learning in a positive way. The need to learn itself is an attitude.

Reference

Learning theories: individual learning: what is individual learning 2000, Web.

Learning orientation research overview: introduction 2004, Web.

Pigford, Lois 2000, The successful interview & beyond: what is attitude, Cengage Learning, Web.

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