Three myths about workplace learning – Who owns the responsibility for employees’ learning?

Of the three myths about workplace learning cited by Todd Tauber in the November/December 2016 issue of, the third—that the learning function (department or division) owns the responsibility for employees’ learning—is perhaps the one that can most easily be debunked.  Today, says Tauber, managers, employees and the company’s learning leaders, are in charge of staying current with business-related information, skills, and technologies.

Results of a Chief Learning Officer Degreed 2016 webinar poll showed that only 21 percent of the people surveyed turn to their learning department when they need to learn something new. Tauber cites findings from CEB, Inc., a best-practice insight and technology company, that learning leaders believe “4 out of 5 workers are ‘bad at learning’—that they don’t know when to ask for help or share what they know, how to seek out relevant knowledge, or how to extract value from information.” (1)

Learning usually begins with their boss or mentor (69%), their colleagues (55%), or online (47%).  This doesn’t eliminate the need for learning leaders, but it surely dispels the myth about who is responsible for learning. Following the lean learning practice of “pull” rather than “push,” new learning methods encourage and inspire self-motivation. A learning leader who cultivates an environment that integrates learning with constant improvement instills the necessary tension for motivating employees to build learning into their work routine.
The key role for today’s learning leaders is to serve as mentors and important resources for self-learning.  Although this practice does not supplant the traditional model of formal training sessions, i.e., seminars, workshops and project-specific trainings, it models the lean strategy of a culture that thrives on learning.  A strong learning environment empowers employees to identify areas where they need assistance.  When motivation for improving s knowledge and skills is rewarded by career advancement, employees will seek the right experts and also be inspired to conduct their own research.

In today’s workplace climate, Tauber points out that “learning follows the path of least resistance, so speed, simplicity and easy access matter most now.” (2) Learning leaders are adjusting their time and energy quotients to empower more and manage less.

Latest statistics delivered by Deloitte’s 2015 Corporate Learning Factbook state that the more established learning programs are delivering 20 percent fewer hours of formal training, up to 30 percent more learning on the job, 13 percent more learning via coaching and collaboration, and near 100 percent more through on-demand resources, including videos, articles and books. (3)

Could this changing corporate environment be directly related to the growing use of lean learning strategies, technologies and tools? By building lean practices into the foundation of your business, you will create a fail-safe method for dispelling common myths about the challenges of workplace learning.



[1] Information derived from CEB, Inc., a best-practice insight and technology company.

[2] Tauber, Todd. “3 Myths About Workplace Learning,”, November/December.

[3] Ibid.