Today’s workplaces are super-complex. It’s likely that your organization is expecting more and more from you. You have to demonstrate technical proficiency specific to your job, and interpersonal and cultural competence that leads to creativity in teams and enhances employee engagement. On top of that, change is happening at every level of the organization. For organizational change, you have to manage your own feelings about it while also helping others adapt and succeed. With all of this happening it’s a wonder you keep your head above water, let alone invest in learning about contemporary leadership and managerial best practices necessary to help your team flourish.
For your professional development, workshops are great for getting a shot in the arm. They provide a concentrated experience for ingesting new ideas and socializing them with colleagues. Likewise, conferences and seminars leave you feeling inspired and re-energized. But for real learning that can be integrated into your daily and ongoing practice, you want something more. How do I know? Because for many years DeEtta Jones and Associates has offered workshops and our team is often invited to speak at conferences. Though we consistently receive rave reviews about our work, participants come to us time and time again with the same request—please give us more.
If you want more, perhaps online learning is just the answer. Actually, whether or not you want it, you likely know that you need more because not making an ongoing investment in professional development is a sure-fire strategy for ineffective managerial practices, a toxic workplace culture, career derailment and burnout. Even if online learning is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about professional development, think again. Below are 6 benefits of well-designed online learning experiences that may change your mind.
1. Integrated learning is more effective for adults than theory or case studies alone.
As adults, different from children, our brains are already full! We have a million things on our minds. Finding space for learning about something that is interesting but not imperative is just not an option for many of us. On the other hand, learning skills that are presented in the context of your real work, or integrated learning, is incredibly valuable. Integrated learning is designed to provide practical concepts and skills that directly reflect your current workplace challenges, and that can be applied immediately. Perhaps most importantly, integrated learning takes place over a period of time, instead of in a one-time setting. Well-structured learning over a period of time allows you to reflect, process, socialize new ideas, practice new behaviors, and use feedback loops to reinforce and internalize new skills.
2. Having your own on-call expert is something most of us just wish for.
Often, after I’ve delivered a keynote speech, people form a line to talk to me. Some thank me for the presentation. Some tell me how much they appreciate my humor, or the way I give examples to help convey a point. Most, however, ask specific questions about how to work through a knotty issue that they are dealing with in their workplace. Still others ask for resources—the “one book I should read”—to learn everything there is on a particular top, like influencing up or communicating through change. Of course, I try my best to answer all of these questions in the moment. Wouldn’t it be great, though, to have access to high-caliber experts over time and providing input on your specific needs? Online learning can offer just that: dedicated experts to help you process, contextualize, and apply what you are learning.
3. We could all benefit from a little more convenience in our lives, couldn’t we?
If you’re are anything like me, our plates are spilling over with to-dos. We have meetings, people lined up at our door (or cubicle or cubby) to talk to us, reports to finish, deadlines to meet. Getting on a plane, or even driving across town, to attend a multi-day in-person professional development experience seems like an extravagance not available to many of us. With online learning, you have, at your fingertips, access to a rich and customized array of tools and skills to help you do your job better. You can watch videos during break, listen to a podcast on your headphones while cleaning out your inbox, or read the transcript of a module on the bus or train to and from work.
4. Human Resources loves to support professional development that is cost effective.
Workshops, symposia and conferences are wonderful. They provide a unique opportunity for learning about new issues, hearing new voices, reinforcing your professional network, and re-energizing. In addition to these sorts of experience, most employers and employees also find ways to supplement professional development with substantive learning of skills needed to drive your organizational goals and build workforce capacity for excellence. Online professional development experiences save you, and your employer, expensive travel costs. There are not flight, commute, hotel or hidden fees. Further, there are often significant discounts when colleagues from a one organization sign up as a group.
5. Online learning caters to a wide variety of learning styles.
Well-structured online learning programs are designed with a variety of learning styles in mind. Do you prefer to read information that is presented in a linear manner then individually process using a structured framework? Or perhaps you prefer to listen to ideas presented then attend a session where the presenter reinforces the key concepts and take-aways? Or maybe you enjoy watching a video of a dynamic presenter then talking with others to solidify how you might apply what you learned? If any of these reflect your preferences, a well-designed online learning program is for you. At the end of the day, online learning should provide you with timely instruction on the specific skills you will need to develop in order to increase your effectiveness, and tools to practice using those skills.
6. A robust community of practice means that you will have free consultants for life.
In my work, one of the major roles I play is connecting people and organizations to each other. I am called all over the world to answer the same questions from one organization to the next. I often joke within the DJA Team that I often appear so smart because I’m able to quickly answer tough questions. Really, I’ve answered the same questions thousands of times. My perspectives, and confidence providing answers, is based on my perspective. I am in the fortunate position of being able to interact with a lot of people, all the time, across a wide array of roles in their organizations, and spanning many industries and countries. This kind of perspective is viewed by DJA’s clients as invaluable, and you, too, can have it. Online learning allows you to have immediate and ongoing access to people across leadership and managerial roles, organizations, industries, cultures and countries. You can learn with and from your Community of Practice; an asset for life as part of an online learning program.
Whether or not you have experience in online learning, now is the time and we have the program. Join us Fall 2019 for the Inclusive Manager’s Communication Toolkit, the DeEtta Jones and Associates signature offering. Our 8-week online learning program is for anyone in a formal or informal leadership or managerial role and who wants to have inclusive and practical tools for maximizing workforce performance. You will get the best of everything we know, and fully leverage my expertise and an amazing team of faculty. The Inclusive Manager’s Communication Toolkit is jam-packed with videos, case studies, practical application exercises, webinars and plenty of opportunity for engagement with experts and colleagues as part of a vibrant community of practice.