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How to change and develop a learning culture

On the job learning continues to be the most important aspect of any learning and development (L&D) plan, with industry statistics showing that 70% of what people learn is gained through real life experience, 20% through learning from others and 10% from conventional training.

But the strategy behind experiential learning needs to be carefully planned when tackling the challenge of translating a global HR strategy into the UK market.

At Hilton Worldwide a 'glocal' approach was adopted taking into account the international L&D strategy and applying it to UK staff at all levels across the business.

There are various factors to consider when taking into account the training needs of staff at a local level. What are their career backgrounds? What are their career objectives? From these points you can begin to work out what type of learning they may respond to best.

In the hospitality industry especially, employees often join at a junior level and work their way up. This means on the job learning plays a key role in staff development as they gain experience and knowledge from their own time spent with the company and their colleagues. Successful working relationships are not only the key to on the job learning, they also drive the success of the hospitality sector as a whole.

On the job learning is participatory and engaging as it uses the resources of colleagues who work with that individual. It also helps to attract and inspire staff who may prefer less formal methods of learning.

Many organisations, including Hilton Worldwide, are increasingly moving away from traditional, classroom-based learning methods to focus on this experiential learning. To do this requires creating and delivering a long-term strategy that will change attitudes and culture within the organisation. Traditional learning methods may be firmly embedded in a company's training strategy, so careful thought and planning needs to take place to create an environment where experiential learning can be introduced and then embedded.

For this to be successful, an environment needs to be created where mentors can identify learning opportunities and encourage knowledge sharing. Various tools and methods can be utilised, and technology can have a part to place with instant messaging and social media enabling a constant drip feed of training, as well as e-learning. This all helps to translate the classroom experience into something more experiential and engaging for the recipient.

When looking at on the job training, it is not just the recipient that should be taken into consideration. To enable staff to be able to mentor and train other employees, they need to be empowered to do so. Businesses should give staff the knowledge, means and power to be able to monitor and effectively manage the learning process in others. Mentor training should be across all levels of the organisation, from middle management to lower management. This, in turn, empowers junior staff so that they are equipped with the skills they need to help them through their career with the company. These skilled individuals can then also play a part in the future success of the organisation.

Sue Miller, metro & corporate L&D manager at Hilton Worldwide is one of the keynote speakers at the World of Learning Conference & Exhibition, which takes place at The NEC Birmingham on 2 & 3 October 2012.

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