Transform Your Workplace into a Learning Space through Digital Coaching

“What do you do?”

It’s arguably one of the most frequently asked questions across settings, from casual social occasions to professional networking events. It’s a conversational canapé, used to get people talking in a bite-sized way.

When someone asks you The Question, how do you respond? Training manager, software developer, writer, CEO, architect, designer? Perhaps. But let’s unpack this a bit, by refining The Question and asking it of ourselves.

Gaze back at your day, and consider what you actually did at work. What verbs would you use to describe the activities you carry out? What took up the most time? What do you have to show for it at the end of the day? Take a moment to think about this. If you’d like to get the most out of this opportunity, you could even write down your thoughts.

Did you, for example:
• Make something?
• Build something?
• Write something?
• Design something?
• Fix something?
• Have meetings?
• Sell something?
• Network?
• Make calls?
• Collaborate with colleagues?

Maybe you did. Great! I am sure you did a lot more than that too.

But, let’s not get stuck there. Unpacking the next layer and drilling a bit deeper, what did that do? What was the impact of what you did, were you aware of the impact, and was it your intended impact? Did you connect with colleagues, or did you actually strengthen professional relationships? Did you fix something, or did you minimize frustration and save time and therefore enhance efficiency for your team?

Well, it all depends how you view it. Every action has an impact, and makes a ripple, in its environment and beyond. Considering the impact of our actions is one way for us to learn. Seeing one’s actions in isolation from their effect means missing out on learning opportunities, and in a company can lead to an almost-inevitable decline in workplace motivation over time. It’s like being in an untapped goldmine but just seeing rocks.

See what you do through the lens of what you’re learning

If you see what you do in the context of what you and your company are trying to achieve, and the impact each action has on the greater whole, you’re not just ‘doing’. You’re contributing, and you’re learning. This means that you’re growing.

Perhaps the aim is less about what you do every day, and more about what you learn every day as a result of what you do. It may initially seem subtle, but if you think about the layers involved, it is a revolutionary shift in thinking that requires an overhaul of how we approach, think about, and engage in our work and lives.

This way, challenges are embraced with the knowledge that whether or not they lead to development is absolutely up to us. No longer is it sufficient for companies to have isolated training programs or for Human Resources to be responsible for learning. It may be up to an organization to provide a supportive environment where learning and development are encouraged and facilitated, but this is never guaranteed – each individual needs to take responsibility for their own learning and development.

Engaging real-time activities

The workplace is in fact a hub of experiential learning – going to work every day is eight hours of experience, which could be seen as eight hours of potential learning. Experience is the fuel that drives the development of new neural pathways, by allowing us to start making new connections, identifying new patterns and starting to do things in new ways. I say ‘potential learning’, because it is up to us to decide for ourselves if we will embrace the opportunities available to us. Even the most routine of tasks can be engaged with more deeply if chosen, to mine for more lessons and potentially to glimpse new-and-improved ways of doing things.

The aim is to maintain a freshness, even while completing routine tasks; a lightness of mind, which engages a growth mindset that is oriented toward opportunities and possibilities rather than boredom and seeing what is wrong with something, or what we don’t like.

An organization can facilitate a space where engaging activities are encouraged, but it is ultimately up to each of us to engage.

Digital coaching to facilitate and support learning

In the modern, fast-paced workplace where real-time agility is essential, digital coaching provides a platform through which the process of continuous learning can be recognized and facilitated. It can help to prompt and prioritize reflection, and supports the transfer of learning into everyday life. Digital coaching encourages people to take the time out to realize what they are learning, where they can apply what they’ve learned, and how it impacts their work and life.

At Cognician, we encourage social learning through the sharing of insights and reflections. This is another way of fostering a learning culture at work, as colleagues can see what their peers are learning, and can benefit, as well as have engaging discussions to learn from and with each other. When companies discuss what their collective work-specific learnings are, it can streamline processes and save time and resources, because it can prevent unnecessary duplications of efforts.

Companies discuss deadlines, tasks and project milestones or completions regularly; imagine what could be possible if we discussed our learnings more frequently? The focus has traditionally been on what we do, but in modern organizations, awareness is also expanding toward what we are learning. Multiple companies can do the same thing, but how it is done and why become differentiating factors that set you ahead of your competitors. Learning, rather than simply doing, is what interrogates, streamlines, and enhances the how and why of what we do.

If learning is intentionally integrated as part of your company culture, it becomes part of the breath of an organization and gives it life. Learning is life, life is learning. If your organization is learning, it is living and breathing and can grow. When we stop learning, we stagnate, and we all know what happens to bodies of water that stagnate. No thanks! And more importantly, it is entirely avoidable.

Any workplace can become a learning space, and digital coaching is a powerful way to begin the transformation.

The challenge

“Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.” – Alfred Edward Perlman

Do you work for a living, or do you learn for a living? Is it the earning or the learning that is your primary driver?

It is possible to develop a culture where the daily grind stops feeling like ‘work’ in the traditional sense.

What if we start to view what we do in terms of what we learn? Each thing we do is an opportunity to unlock something new.

Next time someone asks you what you do, take a moment to consider your answer, and to consider that you’re empowered to shape and reshape that answer every single day, no matter what your title is. Just imagine how it would feel if every time you thought “I am going to work”, you started to think “I am going to learn”.

Consider again what you did today. Great! So, my question to you is: What did you learn?

• How often do you discuss your organizational learnings?
• Does your company enable and encourage engaging activities at work?
• How much participation does your company facilitate in order to achieve its goals?
• What kind of learning culture does your company have? Is it seen as separate, or as an integral part of each day?
• What structures do you have in place to recognize and acknowledge learning that happens?
• How frequently do you personally reflect on your learnings?
• How do you currently describe what you ‘do’ every day?
• What can you do to change this to make it more learning-oriented?
• What platform do you use to facilitate learning reflection?
• Who could you have a conversation with about this?
• Where are there opportunities for digital coaching in your organization?

Get in touch to find out how digital coaching can help transform your workplace into a learning space.