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Online workshop report: Supporting people to create their own learning plans


This is the report from the online workshop held on Tuesday 26 September on the topic of supporting people to create their own learning plans.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Louisa, I guess will wait a few minutes for some others to turn up.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Toni.

Stephanie Phillips We'll just wait a few minutes to see who else turns up.

Stephanie Phillips Hi Rob.

Stephanie Phillips Does anyone want to start the ball rolling with introductions, background etc.?

Rob Hudson Hi Stephanie.

Toni Court Hello everyone.

LOUISA gill Hello all. I am fairly new to self managed learning and am interested to know what constitutes an effective learning plan and how managers can encourage workers to commit to them. Hope this is in tune with everyone else.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Louisa, Hi everyone. Does anyone else want to provide a quick intro explaining what their background is?

Rob Hudson Hi everyone, I am a Manager with a passion for best practice in people and process management.

Alex Wilmington Hi, Sorry I am a couple of minutes late, have I missed anything?

Stephanie Phillips Alex , don't worry, we're just starting with introductions. Hi Janice too!

Janice Powell Thanks Stephanie.

Alex Wilmington OK. I don't have a background I am just hear to listen and learn!!

Jenny Overy I am new to this, and intend to observe.

Clare woods woods Hi Stephanie, just logged in.

Stephanie Phillips My experiences of something resembling a learning plan are probably related to NVQs - defining what needs to be learnt to meet the competencies, and then following them through. Does anyone else see any useful similarities?

Clare woods woods Hi, I am also new to this and will be observing tool

Alex Wilmington I graduated from Uni a year ago, and have just started work in a National Training Organisation and think that I need to start a learning plan. I have no idea what to do first!!

Clare woods woods Stephanie, my experience of learning plans are through performance management processes following on from personal performance plans and then following them with learning plans which are aligned to their objectives and identified competencies.

Stephanie Phillips Alex, learning plans are still very new to a lot of organisations, so we'll see what we can suggest. Clare, do you mean that learning plans you've come across have only been used when there's a performance management problem?

Janice Powell Stephanie, I've really only seen the Personal Learning Action Plans designed by the Campaign for Learning.

Alex Wilmington I have a 6 month review coming up shortly, Is this a good place to discuss a learning plan with my line manager?

Stephanie Phillips Janice - I haven't come across those, did they look useful?

Stephanie Phillips My feeling is that a learning plan should be created when a new member of staff starts, and that they should be able to take it with them if they move on to another job/organisation, although of course it will be amended along the way.

Clare woods woods Stephanie, usually use learning plans to support performance management for everyone --- not just to the people who have issues.

Janice Powell Yes they did, I have used them with only a few clients, but the feedback so far has been pretty good. Although to some the language might seem a bit simplistic.

Toni Court Like Alex I graduated recently, I will be studying for CIPD next September but would like to put a training plan in place for the next twelve months.

Alex Wilmington Where can we access a learning plan designed by the campaign for learning?

Stephanie Phillips Clare - I agree it should be done this way, everyone should have one! Appraisal sessions would be a good place to start tying them in.

Stephanie Phillips I've worked in an organisation where a learning plan of sorts was part of the appraisal process, but it wasn't really carried through as a separate entity.

LOUISA gill Stephanie re: appraisals: The only problem then is that they would tend to focus on negative training needs (i.e. gaps) rather than focusing on further personal development.

Stephanie Phillips Alex - I guess the Campaign for Learning's website should have more details - try or thereabouts!

Stephanie Phillips Louisa - I can see that could be a problem, but can honestly say that in the situation I encountered, the plans were also used to look to the future, although they were more business-focussed than individually-focussed.

Janice Powell Contact details for the Campaign for Learning, Tel 0207 930 5115, Fax 0207 839 5805. Hope that helps.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Janice! Does anyone want to comment on the potential issues involved with defining an individual plan which will relate to the business? How does this fit with IIP, for example?

Janice Powell How do you accommodate the needs of the organisation and the personal development needs of the individual? These two needs are not always going to go together.

Stephanie Phillips (Andy, nick, click on the transcript below to see what's happened already).

Stephanie Phillips Janice - I think that's an important issue - does anyone else want to comment?

Nick Thorpe Sorry I'm late someone stole my car.

LOUISA gill Surely there must be a compromise so learning plan is aligned to company needs but with the flexibility to allow workers to pursue one of their own interests and so stay committed to the plan.

Stephanie Phillips Nick - sorry to hear that. There should be a compromise, but often training funds /time to release staff for learning unrelated to the workplace is scarce.

Janice Powell I think that's absolutely true Louisa, both parties must gain in some way to get commitment from both sides.

Stephanie Phillips I don't feel that creating plans themselves are a problem - something which needs administration in place, definitely, but the attitude of an organisation towards learning for its own sake is going to determine whether these things get off the ground.

Andy Winter Sorry, to join late. Within the YMCA we try to encourage folk to consider their own learning and development as something more than just work related. Then the individual can choose what is relevant to bring to work reviews, appraisals and so on. The challenge is getting folk opened up and interested to see the areas in which they can and want to develop. I'm after ideas and creative ways of achieving this ??

Stephanie Phillips Andy, you sound as if you're quite well down the line with this sort of thing. I guess the problem is that people aren't used to being asked to take a proactive approach to their own development?
Nick Thorpe Can I go back to basics and ask, what is the objective of learning plans? Are they solely driven by the individual, in which case where is the incentive for a busy employee?

Janice Powell I'm interested in how you try and get people to open up, can they talk to a career counsellor/coach? Or is this done through their managers?

Andy Winter Stephanie, you're right. Most 'senior managers are used to this, although some of the more 'established' folk may seem a bit daunted however it is getting the staff at the roots of the organisation to become interested in learning that is the challenge.

Michael Mallows Hello everybody, just got here!

Stephanie Phillips D'you think that the government's push for lifelong learning (learndirect et al) is going to help?

Andy Winter Janice, I really think that the answer has to be managers that are interested in their staff. Easy to say but it has to become a part of the organisations culture if it is going to be taken seriously - doesn't it ??

Michael Mallows My particular interest is in anything that could be incorporated in to a leadership programme I have 'designed' for 100 Undergraduates.

Janice Powell Janice:- Perhaps Learndirect is just a start, although I think a bigger cultural shift is required. I'm not convinced that generally individuals are fully prepared to take more responsibility for their careers.

Stephanie Phillips The message for Toni and Alex, and Michael's undergraduates should be to take the bull by the horns, then!

Clare woods woods Hi, everyone, lost my connection but back again, I have been specialising in performance management and competencies for a no of companies and we have put a lot of effort up front in working with people in identifying and getting clarity about objectives of learning - and enabling personal responsibility.

Janice Powell Yes, I think you're right Andy, but are all managers ready and able to take on this role?

Stephanie Phillips My feeling is that training departments have an important role to play in supporting and advising, helping to identify the best means of delivering learning.

Nick Thorpe sorry, my computer just crashed!

Clare woods woods if learning is dependent upon managers or someone else it will always fail to be lifelong as managers move around so much in orgs today. The only way forward is to give people the choice to develop.

Michael Mallows Have just read the transcript, now feel better able to contribute. I design learning programmes linked with Appraisal schemes for Organisations. I use NVQ criteria.

Rob Hudson Clare, I totally agree!

Andy Winter Janice, NO !! Within the voluntary sector the scope for using consultants and counsellors is quite limited so I'm committed to finding ways of exciting people to become interested in their own capacity to learn.

Stephanie Phillips Andy - this does raise the whole question of motivating people to learn, though, doesn't it - bit of a biggie!

Janice Powell Janice: It does seem that training departments are starting to take this on and do more than putting on a range of courses.

Michael Mallows NVQ critera, and explore with individuals what they hope for in work and in life. I always start from the premise that, although the company may be paying, the individual will be doing the living. Appraisal interviews are NOT based on negatives, but on the future needs of the Org. and the aspirations of the individuals.

Rob Hudson I believe that everyone wants to learn but it is not always visible within a work context.

Clare woods woods I am not sure we have the right or the responsibility to get people to become interested - what we can do is to create an environment where people can discuss issues and barriers to maximizing their performance and give them the choice - most people become interested when they find something that really gives them passion.

Andy Winter Stephanie, yes. It seems to me that all the Lifelong learning stuff is fine and I wholly support. However, it is structural. Surely it is about getting peoples hearts captured and that is tough work but worthwhile when it clicks !

Stephanie Phillips Michael - do you use NVQ criteria as a basis for all learning plans?

Michael Mallows by determining what hopes and aspirations individuals have, linking those to the needs of the Org. then finding the appropriate NVQ criteria. I should also say that, although I am a qualified NVQ assessor, I do NOT run NVQ programmes - simply use the criteria to help shape, measure and motivate.

Nick Thorpe But Michael is this not excluding senior managers and directors who in my experience need learning plans more than anybody?

Rob Hudson I think one way to unlock the obvious barriers to learning is to give up the requirement to link the outcomes to company benefits.

Stephanie Phillips Rob - some would say that goes against IIP though? Or maybe it doesn't??

Michael Mallows Rob, no, no, no - because I have designed another programme : Empowering Manager, Empowering People (EMEP) which takes the same approach to learning, and also used NVQ (and other) criteria to determine and to assess progress.

Janice Powell Rob, I think that this was what Ford had in mind with their Employee Development Assistance Programme, EDAP.

Rob Hudson Yes and this is one reason that IIP is not a good vehicle for total inclusion within an org.

Clare woods woods surely but getting everyone focused on specific objectives which are agreed by co and individual then using competencies which are behavioural then these become personal.

Michael Mallows Empowering ManagerS, not just the one !

Stephanie Phillips Clare - I agree, I think that it is possible to link work-based objectives to developing the individual in areas they will want to develop.

Nick Thorpe Hello Janet.

Janet Billinge Hi - it's you or complete my self-learning plan!

Michael Mallows As for IIP, I work in a number of organisations who have the IIP kite, but still operate a command and control system which flies in the face of many of the declared values and principles and thus demotivate people who can see training not as developmental but manipulative, serving only the Companies needs.

Stephanie Phillips Michael - have you found that senior managers have been willing to look closely at self-learning?

Stephanie Phillips Janet - please do tell us a bit about your own plan! How did it come about?

Michael Mallows Stephanie, absolutely - although some start off cynically, reluctantly, even resentfully (they are SO busy), I find that it is possible to 'move' them if they can see the big picture and how it serves them as part of a life journey rather than merely a career move.

Janet Billinge Trying to keep up with e-commerce/e-business - there's little choice but to 'do it yourself' as change is too rapid for training organisations to keep up to date i.e. I have little alternative.

Rob Hudson Michael, That is not an atypical perception of far too many employees, if not a majority.

Clare woods woods I have found a good way of integrating learning in orgs - is to work with group coaching on specific problems - working with continuous improvement groups and reviewing learning.

Michael Mallows Indeed, it seems even easier nowadays because so few people can be sure they'll have their job, or any job, for long.

Stephanie Phillips Janet - your way of thinking is likely to be one most people will have to come around to soon.

Nick Thorpe Must go the police have arrived, bye.

Stephanie Phillips All - we need to wind things up in the next few minutes. I 'd be interested in hearing more about Clare and Michael's work - are you happy for others to contact you about this?

Janet Billinge Yes but ... its isolating, often less than inefficient and time is wasted looking for what is important to me. I think self-learning groups would solve some of these problems.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks Nick.

Clare woods woods It is always a good question to ask people - what stops them from learning?

Clare woods woods Stephanie, happy for people to have my mail address.

Janice Powell Janice: I think that's really important Clare and a good place to start.

Michael Mallows Rob, sad but true, but not necessarily a bad thing if , in the fullness of time, it encourages people to learn more and better, and thus encourages employers to recognise the need to offer better training as an incentive to keep people - rather than minimising training for fear of losing them.

Janet Billinge Easy - insufficient time for reflection

Stephanie Phillips Thanks. Janet, I understand the problem and I do think that some sort of action learning group would help.

Clare woods woods Get people who are interested in learning together they do make an impact.

Clare woods woods Thanks to all - please contact me if you want.

Rob Hudson Unfortunately the majority of managers I mix with think that the problem lies with the people not the company!

Clare woods woods Who is the company if not its people??

Michael Mallows Janet, I doubt that's the main reason: I think fear of failure or exposure, an arrogant assumption that they already all that they need to know, and experience of lacklustre, information pushing training that demands little personal responsibility to put the material into practice.

Michael Mallows If people have time to whinge and complain (and they always do!) they have time for reflection.

Clare woods woods It is always easy to look outside yourself and moan.

Stephanie Phillips Michael - thanks for that observation! All, we do need to wind things up now. Thanks for taking part, the transcript will be on the site soon.

Michael Mallows Clare The Company is the people with status clout and power; the people are the underlings who should do as they are told!

Clare woods woods Thanks Stephanie.

Michael Mallows That's not MY opinion!

Michael Mallows Goodbye and thank you.

Stephanie Phillips Thanks all again!

Rob Hudson Thanks everyone, bye for now.

Janice Powell Janice Powell: Thanks and goodbye for now

Michael Mallows Excellent and stimulating discussion!


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