Todd Hudson discusses how the New Seasons Market chain uses a very informal approach not just for senior employees (where it seems to be a more natural fit) but for new hires as well. Criticism is often leveled against informal learning methods in that they don’t work for basic skills training. The New Seasons Market, with nine outlets, shows otherwise:
At New Seasons, you won’t see new hires crammed into three days of New Employee Training that’s so common today. After their Day One Orientation, New Seasons newbies are pretty much set free in their departments. “New Seasons’ training is like a Waldorf School experience. There’s no codified way for people to learn most jobs. People are told to look around, figure it out and ask for help when they need it,” said Charla [HR Director].
The company starts its hiring based on attitude, “We look for candidates more interested in genuine human interactions than in an ‘items per hour’ ratio”. I recommended in soft skills are foundational competencies that hiring for attitude makes more sense because you can always train for skills later.
This is a succinct real-world case for informal learning (book) in the workplace, what Todd Hudson calls Lean Knowledge Transfer (PDF), and reminds me of Guy Wallace’s more comprehensive Lean ISD (book) [also available as a free 404-page PDF at http://www.eppic.biz ].