The ongoing pandemic is a global phenomenon which hasn’t left any aspect of life within its sphere untouched. Some view it as a challenge of a lifetime, while some look at it as an opportunity. It depends on how one chooses to perceive and respond to the scenario. Here, I refer to the aspect of building a learning muscle. The current phase of social, economic and business recovery has been relying heavily on innovation and reinvention, which can only be achieved with the attitude of learning, unlearning and relearning.
“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching”
When I think of learning I am reminded of the above-mentioned quote an important lesson that has influenced my approach to life.
Having said this it may sound easy but in reality, it is a learning muscle that is needed to put this into practice.
Here is my story of learnings and growth through challenges during this COVID situation:
A phase which was not just about what I wanted to learn, it was also about what the situation wanted me to learn.
After successful completion of my master’s degree, I had an offer from a large organisation and they were not in a position to honour their offer. So was practically left with no offer in hand.
In March I had also interviewed with Marching Sheep, while they had liked me but because of lack of experience, they took another candidate who had more experience. But while speaking to the Managing Partner of Marching Sheep Ms Sonica Aron regarding the interview results, she assured me that towards June – July if I am still struggling to get a job then they would be happy to have me on their team.
When I reached out to them towards the end of June, I was pleasantly surprised that Marching Sheep was ready to immediately honour the offer they had made.
LEARNING 1: What I learnt at that moment was ‘HONOURING YOUR WORD’, how important it is to build Trust and Credibility. It is not how big the organisation is but how you maintain relationships, how you build trust, credibility and keep your word.
The second phase of learning was at the time when I had joined Marching Sheep. I was told during the induction meeting that the Marching Sheep team had carved out a very challenging assignment for me. True to their word I was thrown into the deep end of the pool in the very first week and I struggled! I was too scared to reach out for help while I was struggling with multiple things and wanted to prove myself in the process was also getting disappointed.
One day I got a call from my colleague Rupali and our Managing Partner Sonica, I was essentially told that they were in the deep end of the pool with me and if I need to them hold me to take a breather that was fine and if I needed help with something fine too. But swimming in the deep end was something I had to do even though the entire team was there to help me.
LEARNING 2: Irrespective of the situation I might be in even in COVID times, when we do something there will be times when we need help. But it is only when we reach out for help and say where we are struggling, it helps break down barriers with other people. I realised at this point people are willing to help and people realise how willing we are to contribute. But unless we call out for help barriers continue to exist.
LEARNING 3: Network – Reach Out to People, Connect and Forge Relationships.
“The worst networking mistake you can make is not trying at all”
It’s never too late to start networking. The best way to develop skills is by putting yourself out there and making meaningful connections. Some connections take you a long way.
Career development is a lifelong ongoing process, in which networking is one of the key components. Influenced by experiences, ability to exchange meaningful ideas that can change the course of careers and help build strong and a trustworthy support system.
Ideally, Organizations would place more emphasis on employee development in the workplace. However, the reality is that we live in an era of the workforce, where it is on you to take control of your career development. It is crucial to network with people at your company, in your industry, and even outside your field of interest, you’ll uncover opportunities to connect with different types of mentors and advisors, with senior management, which will help further develop your areas of expertise, and improve your soft skills.
I am sure these learnings will be essential not only for me but for fellow students & colleagues who have recently joined work/ new organisations during times of uncertainty and business recovery.
Thus, learning is multi-fold which requires a combination of all three:
Before we go ahead, we must understand the different types of learning -‘Loops of Learning.”
1. Single-Loop Learning (Following the Rules)
2. Double-Loop Learning (Changing the Rules)
3. Triple-Loop Learning (Learning About Learning)
While the above three loops have their relevance, meaning and importance in various contexts, what is more, crucial is to understand when and how to apply them. Life is about continual progression in different spheres. In the professional field also one needs to choose a path of continuous growth otherwise there are chances of stagnation.
On a personal level, continuous learning is about the constant expansion of skill-sets through learning and experiences that contribute to our knowledge base. As life changes the need to adapt both professionally and personally is as real as the changes themselves.
On a professional level, continuous learning is about further expanding our skill-set in response to a changing environment and new developments.
To innovate, reinvent, to try a new process, or to do something new all requires learning. People need to learn new knowledge or skills to see things in a new light and take that next leap.
With emerging times, employees need the ability to challenge themselves to obtain new knowledge, ideas, and skills. Learning needs to be on a flexible, on-demand and continual basis, to contribute towards a cutting-edge performance that is needed for sustenance and recovery in the new normal.
A diverse blend of skills is what one requires to stay ahead despite constant changes in the market. Careers today are not just defined by core skills but also through learning complementary skills and by building learning agility. Thus, building our competence and also competency widens options. “Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. Our most fundamental thought processes have changed to accommodate increasing complexity and the need to derive new patterns rather than rely only on familiar ones ‘BREAK THE ACTIVE INERTIA’.
BARRIERS TO LEARNING
Situational barriers are deterrents that arise as adults attempt to balance multiple roles in their lives or deal with health conditions.
Institutional barriers are the result of educational or employment policies and practices which prevent participation.
Dispositional barriers occur when the learner lacks confidence in their skills and abilities, or when they are unaware of their career options.
Situational and institutional barriers are largely external to the learner, while dispositional types of barriers reside within the learner.
SWOC ANALYSIS OF LEARNING IN CURRENT TIMES:
Source: Shivangi Dhawan, June 20, 2020, Online Learning: A Panacea in the Time of COVID-19 Crisis.
QUESTION IS HOW CAN WE CONTINUE TO LEARN AND EVOLVE?
“Armed with knowledge with a world full of complexities, solutions should be approached in multiple ways. You may have learnt the hard way but what matters most is that you have learnt. As we continue to work on self-improvement and self-correction we’ll continue to learn and unlearn, succeed and fail, innovate and be disrupted. The cycle will continue and we will find ways to manoeuvre ourselves in the VUCA world where only those who are resilient and can learn to adapt can play to the tune of change.”