7 ways to learn at work

7 ways to learn at work

Recently I surprised a long-standing contact by saying “I’m not sure that training is the answer here.” Before you think I’ve completely lost my marbles, I’m still delighted to offer bespoke training to companies; I’m also committed to providing advice if it’s asked for. 

There can be valid reasons why a training course is the right thing for a cohort of people, typically when essential skills are needed. My workshops on delegation and feedback are two examples. However, there are more ways to encourage learning at work.

When I’ve read entries for training and CPD awards, it’s great to see some top-notch training, such as that offered by sector member organisations. It’s also great to see some resourceful ways to enable people to learn at work. Here are 7 ways that I’ve seen work well.


One of the most eye-opening experiences of my previous career was being seconded to a client’s marketing department. Other departments seemed to think we were the ‘pretty picture’ department, deadlines moved and budgets had to be haggled for. Secondment can broaden and deepen employees’ understanding of the organisation, what helps it work well – and what hinders.

Book club

This can be a great way to enable learning at work, for the price of some books. The deal is simple: the employer funds the books on condition the employee writes a review and shares their summary at the next book club meeting. See my pros and cons, along with tips in this post.

Delivering a talk

People can do the most unusual things, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or volunteering. Talking about it to colleagues is a great way to develop presentation skills, build confidence and inspire others. It’s also a good way to get some return on investment in other CPD, for example when someone goes to a conference, make it a requirement that the delegate delivers a talk on return.

‘How we…’

When colleagues do amazing things, come up with original ideas and get great results, the rest of us would love to know how they did it. Don’t keep that winning pitch to yourselves, share the story of the what and how of the process and what was learned from the experience.


Having helped employers and volunteer organisations to enable people to mentor fellow members or employees, I can attest how powerful mentoring can be. Working with a mentor or buddy when joining a new workplace or moving up can be a great help. Mentors share their experiences and mentees have someone to help them stay on track. I’ve written a lot about mentoring; you can find more here.

TED time

TED talks have figured in many an employer’s CPD plans – especially when funds are tight. I’ve heard it helps to provide food and refreshments 😉 There are so many TED talk videos it’s a good idea to ask people to nominate a talk and have a vote. Rather than just watching, encourage people to critique the talk. What did the speaker do well? What would make the talk better? What are you taking away from the talk?

Write a personal case study

This one’s a good idea if people are enrolled in a programme over time, rather than a short course. I use this with cohorts to ensure they chart their progress and deliver ROI to their sponsor. It’s essential if the CPD is a pricey MBA or professional body credential. I’ve helped clients set up a competition where the course participants submit their case study and senior leaders decide on the winners.

If you want to discuss different ways to support performance, please get in touch.

Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work

Pictures: DepositPhotos

Comments are closed.