We used to think that companies were responsible for directing all their employee learning, which the training and development department usually managed. But that’s now shifting to employees taking responsibility for their own development by actively choosing how they construct their knowledge and skills.

People may still attend workshops and training, but the emphasis is moving away from what is conveyed on a slide or handout to what the employee turns that information into – how they make it their own.

This employee-driven approach is also consistent with what we are finding out about how our brains learn best.

The most important thing to know from a brain perspective is that passively trying to absorb new information doesn’t work. To learn effectively, you need to interact with the new content and transform it by:

  1. Discussing it with others
  2. Relating/connecting it to what you already know
  3. Internalising the meaning.

For this same reason, most learning actually happens on the job. And there are things you can do to get the most from your efforts.

Make yourself open to new experiences on the job and use these experiences to increase your self-awareness. In other words, understand yourself in relation to the demands of the job.

This is about knowing how to use your strengths to be your best, as well as understanding your vulnerabilities and sensitivities. It’s also about knowing how to use your personal resources to make connections and contributions that are valued by others.

Ongoing reflection and constant re-assessment is an essential part of awareness in a fast changing environment. So is setting goals, regularly monitoring your performance by reflecting on how things are going, and asking for feedback as you need it versus just waiting until it is offered.

See our blog for more ideas about specific techniques you can use to improve your learning on the job as well as learn a bit more about how to increase resilience, reduce burn-out and thrive at work.