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Understanding Intentional Learning and How It Helps Young Professionals Thrive

Understanding Intentional Learning and How It Helps Young Professionals Thrive
As an employer hiring young professionals coming right out of college, you know there will be a learning curve, but many teams don’t fully comprehend just how significant that learning curve will be. Only 15% of college students today say they feel prepared to enter the workforce which is fewer than ever before. They lack confidence and over half of them are worried they won’t be able to learn quickly enough as they enter a full-time role.

As a manager, it’s important to keep these things in the forefront of your mind and remember the environment young professionals are coming from. The world of education is vastly different from the world of work. You’re taught to learn by the book, taught that there’s one right answer to a problem, and taught that situations are mostly black and white. When they’re thrown into the world of work, they quickly realize that what they have learned in school is not reality. Ideally, their company needs to be proactive in helping adjust to the new reality of work.

This is where intentional learning comes in…

What is Intentional Learning?

McKinsey & Company’s term “intentional learning” is one we believe everyone should embrace. It is essentially the opposite of formal classroom learning. It’s embracing a growth mindset and looking at every opportunity in life, every moment, as a learning opportunity. It’s developing the ability to take an everyday experience and pick it apart to understand what skills can be developed and what traits can be learned from it.

How Intentional Learning Can Help Your Company Grow

Now you may be asking, “How does intentional learning help the company and how do we foster an environment where it is expected?”.

Think about creating opportunities for growth and asking them to evaluate their experiences with a post-mortem meeting.

For example, ask a young professional to join in on a specific meeting that they typically wouldn’t participate in so they’ll be able to learn proper workplace etiquette from observing the actions of senior managers, or learn negotiation skills they haven’t been privy to previously. If you assign a new hire an Excel organization task and they realize they have no idea how to do it, they’ll either fail or they’ll do the necessary research to figure it out and teach themselves as they go—either way it’s a learning experience. Set up weekly meetings where you ask about progress, questions, findings, and ask them their opinions on solutions or different ways of doing things they observed in the meeting that may spark critical thinking. You want to let them know that their ideas are welcome, you want them to be creative, you want them to analyze and determine if there’s a different and better way of doing things.

Actions like this can be pivotal for a young professional to learn how to most effectively contribute to the overall success of your organization. Asking these questions will force them to think more critically about everything they’re experiencing and apply those findings to other tasks or scenarios—this is intentional learning. And as they grow, they’ll contribute more meaningfully, and you will in turn see your company grow as well.

In his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant wrote, “When we’re determined to reach an objective, it’s the gap between where we are and where we aspire to be that lights a fire under us.” Make sure you understand where your employees are and help light the fire that will get them to where they want to be by encouraging intentional learning to reach goals.

Need Some Support Embracing Intentional Learning?

As a company, it can be hard to reach your quarterly numbers while also paying enough attention to growing your team. NimblyWise has helped organizations and human resources teams to implement training programs that will help the young professionals on your team adopt intentional learning and other critical workplace skills for mutual success. If you’d like to discuss what NimblyWise can do to help, let’s chat!
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