Learning at Work Week: Lifelong Learning
This week (17th - 23rd May) is Learning at Work Week, focusing on the theme of lifelong learning. And we’re proud to be celebrating this within our own business this week and encouraging our colleagues to learn and develop - not just this week, but every week.
We believe that continuous learning should be important to everyone, whether it’s formal training and qualifications or mentoring and coaching, lifelong learning helps us to shape our careers and become the best that we can be.
To help learn more about learning(!), we spoke to one of our key learning and development partners, Caroline Dakin. As founder and owner of Caroline Dakin Associates, she is Head of Learning & Development and has provided thought-provoking training programmes to businesses across the globe, helping them to build high-performing teams.
Caroline actually started her training career with Bruntwood, something she attributes to “having a manager who believed in me probably more than I did myself at the time.” After delivering just one training session to a group of colleagues, Caroline got the training bug and hasn’t looked back since.
Why do you think continuous learning and development is so important to individuals?
I’ll use the fable of the woodcutters in the forest to answer this. The story goes that there were 2 woodcutters who were in a race with each other to cut down as many trees as possible. One woodcutter worked flat out at an alarming pace and chopped down trees all through the night. The second woodcutter took regular breaks to ‘sharpen his saw.’ At the end of the competition, it was the second woodcutter who won, he cut down twice as many trees with his sharp saw than the woodcutter who worked flat out with a blunt tool. Personal development and continuous learning is ‘sharpening your saw’ - when you work on yourself you can achieve so much more in the same amount of time, life becomes so much easier and more fulfilling.
How do you encourage continuous learning?
My workshops are practical, and solution focussed, however they are just a part of someone's learning journey. After every workshop I send out guides with my recommendations for books, podcasts, Ted Talks and apps to ensure participants continue their learning journey. My aim is to motivate participants to carry on their development on that topic and take it even further.
I help people understand that opportunities for continuous learning are everywhere - asking for feedback, learning from a mistake, trying something new - the opportunities are endless.
How can businesses benefit from encouraging continuous learning?
People who continuously learn and develop become more self-aware. They understand what behaviours could be holding themselves and their teams back. I was shocked to read a recent study which revealed that 95% of us think we are self-aware but only 10-15% of us actually are. If we worked on this imagine how much more productive our workplaces could be.
My workshops aren’t about coming along, having an enjoyable few hours and then going back to the day job, the whole point is that they implement their learning back in the workplace and see tangible results for the business. Continuous learning also builds confident, engaged, skilled and positive employees, this is what most businesses want and need.
Why do you think it’s important that businesses place a strong focus on skills such as flexibility and adaptability?
It’s always something that I have focussed on in my workshops but since the pandemic we have all had to demonstrate our flexibility and adaptability. Literally overnight employees were required to adapt to a huge transformational change and stretch themselves like never before. We definitely rose to the challenge and proved change can happen fast but for some of us, the mental cost has been high. Going forward, we should encourage all employees to make working on these skills a priority so that we can demonstrate high adaptability to change alongside protecting our wellbeing - this is the focus of my programmes.
Caroline delivers workshops on Leadership and Management, Resilience and Team Collaboration. “Since the pandemic began the biggest demand has been for my Resilience programme, not surprisingly, people have really been feeling the strain and needed practical tools to help them cope. I’m now starting to get bookings for my Team Collaboration workshops as many teams have become fractured due to remote working and need some help coming back together.”
Learning is so important to us as a business. We want all of our colleagues to continue learning and developing to achieve more than they thought was possible. We make sure that we give all of our colleagues the opportunity to learn, grow and take on new challenges - even ones that take them in a different direction.
We’re proud to give our colleagues the support and opportunities, like those that Caroline offers, to ensure that they are able to be the best that they can be.
Find out more about working at Bruntwood.