Push Vs Pull- Steering the ship of Learning (Part 1)

Organizations mostly embrace learning in either a push or a pull style of learning. In this first part in the 2 part series on learning, let us look at the up side and the flip side of Push learning.

As an organization providing customized learning solutions, we have, for nearly two decades now been closely involved with the learning and development lifecycles of several organizations. Our diverse and custom offerings have enabled us to work across various industries ranging from manufacturing, finance, IT/ITES, retail and many more. This allows us to sit at a vantage point and observe the learning culture, methodologies and gain deep insights into how learning works or does not work within organizations.

Some insights on the Push Learning methodology: Here companies have long and detailed annual training calendars and employees must attend trainings – mandatorily if nominated or a more subtle version where attendance is strung to appraisals and overall performance.

Much like our schooling system there is a precedent on what aspects we are required to learn and how these learning goals may be achieved. Organizations, we find are willing to spend several dollars and man days to fulfil these training needs which, most probably, have been defined by their internal learning and development teams and have chalked out training calendars. Based on these TNA’s and calendars they are keen on pushing employees to up skill themselves.

Much like in our traditional schooling systems, learning is most definitely achieved, albeit in varying degrees and not without chagrin, but many things will be learnt.

This push system has other benefits as well, there is, often times, a clear direction in which organizations are looking to steer their employees in and this can be driven by tailoring learning initiatives to meet larger organizational development goals.

This system also ensures that those lacking the motivation to self regulate and upskill themselves receive the boost to move in the direction of learning. Wisest of organizations have learnt that no matter how much you tweak your hiring process and no matter how enterprising your workforce may be it is prudent to assume that not all employees are motivated to constantly learn and often require an external boost to do so.

The obvious down side to this system lies in the basic wiring of our brain, which pushes back anything that is forced upon us. A natural inclination towards self directed movement and resistance towards mandates. People are more motivated to learn if they feel the need to do so, if they have internalized the need for certain learning and if they have actively initiated a learning process. Retention is, as we know, is often directly proportionate to our intention to learn.

So while organizations may be spending the time, effort, money and other resources on employee development, not every employee is receptive to the desired outcomes or the efforts.