Last week, Donald Taylor wrote an interesting post, wondering about ‘learner engagement’. That’s a topic I do talk a wee bit about ;). He closed with a call for feedback. So, while I did comment there, I thought it potentially would benefit from a longer response. I think it’s more general than learner engagement, so I’m talking about engaging people at work. (But it’s still relevant to his thesis without quibbling about that!)
In his post, he talked about three levels: asset, culture, and environment. I’m not sure I quite follow (to me, culture is an environmental level), and I’ve talked about individual, team, and organizational levels. To his point, however, there are steps to take at every level.
He starts at the individual level, talking about designing learning experiences. I agree with his ‘do deeper analysis’ recommendation, but I’d go further. To me, it’s not just if they recognize that content’s valuable, it’s about building, and maintaining, motivation while controlling anxiety (c.f. Make It Meaningful!). I don’t think he’d disagree.
At the next level up, it’s about making sure people are connected. Here, I’d point to Self-Determination Theory (SDT), and ‘relatedness’. I don’t mind Dan Pink’s reinterpretation of that to ‘purpose’, in that I think people need to know how what they’re doing contributes to something bigger, and that something bigger supports society as a whole.
Finally, to me, is culture. You want a ‘learning organization‘, as Don agrees. He says to start with a sympathetic manager, but I think L&D needs to create that culture internally first, then take it to the broader organization (and starting with said manager is a good next step).
I think that latter step solves Don’s final step of breaking down barriers, but he’s a smart guy and I’m willing to believe I’m missing some nuance. I do like his focus on ‘find a measure’ to use. However, ultimately, it should improve a lot of measures around adapting to change: innovation, retention, and success. That’s my take, I welcome yours!