Social Learning in the Workplace Sparks Creativity & Increases Productivity
When did you learn the big concepts that molded you into the person you are today? Were they learned in an academic lecture room or in a relaxed social context? For the most part, didn’t we learn our roles, responsibilities, and expectations from our family, neighborhood circles, and intimate discussions with teachers, trusted coaches, and advisors? Knowing this, the questions arise: How can this be translated into the workplace? How can social learning in the workplace help your team be more productive?
As CEOs and team leaders, you most likely recruited your team based on their individual merit. However, to make your collaborative project wildly successful you need a cohesive team that is fully engaged and invested in the work they do together. Yet, without an open atmosphere conducive to learning, each team member remains an individual. Before we identify how to do this, we need to establish whether employing social learning in the workplace is right for your organization.
What types of businesses and organizations can benefit from social learning in the workplace?
Positive social learning spaces have been very successful in educational settings for years! Why has it taken us so long to apply social learning to the business world? It only makes sense. Social learning is what helps us see the differences in each other as strengths, as new perspectives that contribute value.
The principles of social learning can be used by academics, scientists, coaches, politicians, healthcare practitioners, interior designers, really all for-profit and non-profit organizations. So if you only have one employee in your beautician shop or you have many interconnecting teams in your marketing firm, you can use the principles of social learning to bring your employees closer together to work as a cohesive team.
Model the principles of social learning in the workplace.
As their leader, you model the social learning mindset, so they can follow your lead. Your team needs to know your commitment to learning. You’re always in the learning mode — learning to make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others.
Here are a few easy suggestions you can use immediately:
- Look at everything and everyone through the open lens of learning, not judging. Be observant.
- Widen your focus to include what everyone else is doing and feeling at regular intervals. Depending on the project, this could be hourly, daily, or weekly check-ins.
- Offer simple words of encouragement in passing. This makes a larger impact than calling someone into your office for a dressing down.
Create spaces conducive to free and creative interchanges.
Does your place of business have some welcoming, well-decorated, comfy spots that your employees gravitate toward to brainstorm ideas? Social distancing doesn’t have to prevent social learning. You see, I’m not talking about idle chit-chat at lunchtime, although that has its place for helping the team gain insight into each other’s lives. I mean creating an informal, social setting that your people know is designated for connecting and brainstorming.
Your social learning space will be the no-ego, no-competition, work-as-a-united-team zone. If someone has special needs, that should be included, so it’s a safe space for all. There should be plenty of space for free movement, so no one feels constrained or cut off. The way chairs and tables are set up should allow interaction to occur spontaneously and seamlessly. Take into consideration if they need to push tables together or separate them out into smaller units. Make it socially friendly, while maintaining social distance!
Can you see how social learning in the workplace will benefit you and your bottom line? More engaged collaboration means more creativity and productivity — who wouldn’t want that?
Perhaps you’ve been applying some of the principles of social learning in your workplace and didn’t even know it. Would you like to know more about the science of why and how it works? I invite you to sign up for Social Learning Spaces for Teams. You’ll receive, in your inbox, weekly digestible research and team-building strategies you can implement right away. I’ll also keep you up-to-date on my upcoming Masterclass: Social Learning Spaces for Teams — Fuel Your Team’s Evolution.