360-Degree Workforce Training is Needed in Digital Age

“Learning should never stop — especially not in the digital age.” That quote, or ideas similar to it, is very popular these days, at a time of disruption when the most relevant knowledge and skills of the present are threatened with obsolescence by tomorrow. But if that gem of wisdom is true, then it also holds that, at least in corporations, training certification should also be continuous and non-stop.

Many trainers might welcome the practice, while CEOs and their finance managers will start questioning its return on investment (ROI). But the idea introduced by Unboxed Technology does make sense on closer scrutiny. If the continuous learning of the workforce is critical to the success of an organization, then it follows that there must be a proven system that can make it possible and sustain it.

The system must also be able to validate that those who had completed the various phases of learning in the process did acquire relevant knowledge and skills; they were also able to implement them successfully in their tasks. One method of validation is certification.

Unboxed Technology goes on to say that the certification must also be holistic, or be applied in a 360-degree strategy to the participant. Training and certification cannot be done simply once, especially as the assignee or employee goes up the ranks. 

Neither should it be limited to just their core competencies or skills, but they should also assess the so-called soft skills and behavioral patterns that make the assignees productive, collaborative team members. Training Mag gives a few examples of the latter: time management, communication, email etiquette, and leadership.

A 360-degree approach will also remove the employee or assignee from their comfort zone. It will expose them to the activities and dynamics of the other departments and see the contribution of the colleagues they rarely interact with. 

It will also ultimately give them an overview of how the organization functions and evolves. The assignee or employee acquires insights on how they do fit into the grand scheme of things and how they can increasingly contribute to the success of their employer. All of a sudden, all those big words such as “company mission,” “vision,” and “core value” won’t appear to be out-of-this-world anymore. 

The giants in Silicon Valley grew because, from the beginning as start-ups, their workforce learned not to confine themselves in silos but always pushed their boundaries to explore and acquire new ideas and abilities, both as individuals and as a team.

A 360-degree approach to training and certification will require a combination of learning methods. Rotating employees to attend classrooms throughout various shifts, and throughout certain phases in their careers, is impractical in a busy workplace.

Other more flexible methods can include the following: video streaming lessons (with take-home quizzes); mini-knowledge checks or tests that can be sent through email on a regular, but easy-to-follow schedule, e.g. Friday afternoon before everyone leaves for the weekend); and action-learning projects, where tests and reflection essays as well as measurements can be infused organically into actual tasks without disrupting the process or upsetting the employee’s confidence.

Yes, learning is vital and it has to be continuous. But it also has to be fun and enjoyable. Some trainers incorporate tools like gamification that make the assignee-cum-employee actually look forward to the learning session. 

A 360-degree certification approach can make learning and development inhabit the assignee like a second skin; they can move comfortably in it, breathe its lessons as naturally as the air around them, and make it part of their professional being.