For some time now I’ve sensed a split in the learning profession in terms of recognising the value and importance of self-managed learning as it takes place in the flow of daily work.
There are some who think that unless they have been responsible for an individual’s learning (i.e. they have designed, delivered, tracked and managed the whole process), then it is of little relevance or consequence to the L&D department, and view self-organised team learning as a “work” activity, and hence the sole responsibility of line managers.
Others, on the other hand, do recognise the importance of self-managed learning, but have difficulty in finding a way to support it more visibly. This is often due to the fact that they need to provide quantifiable success metrics for their own activities, and find it hard to isolate the results of their “learning support” activities from overall team or business performance improvements. But the technology might well be handing them a solution – as well as giving them the opportunity to “join up” learning and working for the first time.
More and more organisations are beginning to adopt enterprise social networking technologies (like Yammer) more formally as business tools, so there is a growing need for a dedicated resource to manage and support this activity – not technically but in human terms.
This emerging practice is known as Enterprise Community Management (ECM), and is much wider than just supporting one small team or community of practice within an organisation, but is about having responsibility for building and sustaining a community across the whole of the organisation. In fact as ECM can include a significant range of responsibilities, in a large organisation it undoubtedly needs to be undertaken by a number of people.
ECM activities are likely to include
- integrating all social and collaborative initiatives into a common platform
- planning the new community’s strategic approach
- promoting and supporting its use within training (both online and face-to-face, but particularly within induction/onboarding)
- helping to support its use for team knowledge- and resource-sharing
- supporting individuals as they build and maintain communities of practice and other interest groups
- developing an ongoing programme of both face-to-face and online activities and events – to encourage employee engagement on an ongoing basis
- helping to model social and collaborative working and learning behaviours as a major part of helping workers use the technology
- building the new personal and social skills required for productive collaboration in the organisation
- measuring the success of community in terms of business performance (not just in terms of social activity)
Whoever takes on these ECM responsibilities is going to have a significant influence and impact on the business. But more than this, as face-to-face training goes out of fashion and e-learning is outsourced (and hence the opportunities for “managing learning” diminish), this might be a way for a L&D department not only to survive, but to thrive in the future.
If you want to find out more about Enterprise Community Management, I’m going to be running an online workshop on the topic at the Social Learning Centre from 1-30 April. You can find out how to sign up for the workshop here.