Informal learning focuses on a person’s emotional intelligence, such as self-awareness, self-confidence, flexibility, trustworthiness, and optimism, rather than the intelligence quotient (IQ) of the person.
Formal classroom training or teaching in an organization are essential to stay abreast of technological advances and specialized skills. However, in order to enhance individual and organizational performance, it is essential that skills and behaviors acquired through informal learning experiences be fostered and developed as well. Informal learning in the workplace accounts for the majority of the learning that takes place in a person’s lifetime. When employees communicate via the intranet, through conversation with a seasoned colleague, or even at the lunch table, it is likely that this informal exchange of information leads to knowledge. When knowledge gained through informal learning is shared it becomes the development necessary to meet the challenges of the organization.
Organizations must also be able to identify and understand some of the tools that people can utilize to enhance knowledge sharing throughout the organization. Online collaboration tools such as wikis, social-networking sites and blogs are notable new tools for knowledge sharing.
Rather than controlling knowledge sharing, some organizations are attempting to facilitate its growth by creating knowledge sharing events, such as employee trade shows and open forums to encourage employees to share knowledge with each other. But before implementing knowledge sharing practices or new collaboration tools, organizations must have a good understanding of the organizational culture and its readiness to share. They should test new approaches with selected groups before implementing them across the organization.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development