Interested in your views on the following:

To what degree do organisations identify and interview for, behavioural competencies associated with being a 'good learner' in the recruitment process? After all it's difficult to develop traits such as 'desire to improve self' after someone has been recruited.

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I think, increasingly, it is going to become more and more important to recruit for learnability. There will be skills required that no one can predict given the complex and chaotic nature of our work today. It will be imperative to be able to learn and organizations will become responsible for enabling employees develop meta-learning skills. However, the intrinsic motivation and desire to learn will also rest in the employees--a natural curiosity, willingness to be wrong often, and a desire to take risks will be probably be some of the markers. On the other hand, orgs will need to supportive of mistakes and percieve these as a step towards the learning process. Just my thoughts...
Hi Sahana, thank you for your response. I must admit it was a loaded question, because I believe that we may not be giving enough attention to making sure that people have learning traits when we recruit. It's much easier to develop our people if we have done the work when recruiting, much more difficult (and consequently more expensive) if we haven't given enough attention to this in the first place!

My first thought was that recruiting "learners" is part of the learning mindset - what happens if we come at the issue with a performance mindset?

 

It seems to me that the term "good learners" equates to people who have the potential to perform at both different areas and different levels within the organisation; and whilst that, in itself, is great, we probably don't want to recruit everyone that is a high flier!

 

So, the inevitable conclusion, is that good learners is a qualifier - but not an entry gate.

Alan, an interesting thought, thanks. I'm not sure that I entirely agree. If I'm looking at hiring an apprentice - not necessarily a high flier - would I be interested in someone who has traits associated with being a good learner or not? I am making an investment in that person albeit that they may be starting a little further down in my organisation.

I guess my point is - and by the way, although I am now firmly in the competency management domain, I have a long L & D background - I'm not sure that we give enough attention to hiring people with the right 'learning traits' and whatever we try to do to fix that after we have hired them, we are facing an uphill struggle. Best get it right when we hire.

Andy,

I agree with you. Having been a classroom teacher for a long time who moved into a corporate L&D role, I do think there are certain traits that identify keen "learners". I am not saying that the same cannot be cultivated or enhanced, but some people do come with intrinsic learning traits like curiosity, unafraid of occasionally looking like a fool, not looking for ready answers but willing to explore, and so on...I am not at all sure how easy/tough it is to identify such traits, but I think they do exist.

Assuming for the sake of the discussion that an ability to learn also equates to performance, in today's intensely complex work environment where everything is changing by the minute, I would rather have someone who thinks of new challenges as learning opportunities than someone who would be given predefined solutions and follow the beaten path.

Thanks!

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