DEARBORN - Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
And that remains true today. As technology and the world around us evolve at even faster rates, what you learned 10, five, or even two years ago is not enough.
Ford offers many resources to help employees continuously build their functional, technical and leadership skills.
“Employees own their development,” said Gale Halsey, director, Global Learning and Development. “However, we offer many tools and learning opportunities to help each employee with their journey.”
For one-stop shopping of learning resources, employees can point their browser to the newly-designed Learning and Development (L&D) SharePoint site. The site has been updated to a more user-friendly format, features an enhanced search function and was added to the “Key Links” section on @Ford Online for easy navigation to the site.
On the site, you will notice a Learning Toolkit that allows you to search learning opportunities based on keywords, One Ford Behaviors or Region and College/Skill Team.
And these opportunities aren’t just in a classroom.
“We’re changing the way we think about training,” said Halsey. “About 80 percent of learning occurs outside of the classroom. Although classroom training is still important, learning can be delivered via videos, articles, mentoring, shadowing, interviewing subject-matter experts, online courses (inside and outside of Ford) and resources like Harvard ManageMentor®.
“Learning is not just about the classroom anymore and our site is designed to start addressing the need to include a wide variety of methods for gaining and applying knowledge.”
On the L&D homepage there are links to four “Key Professional Development Resources.”
Harvard ManageMentor offers support resources for new and experienced managers on a variety of subjects including coaching, decision making, delegating, feedback essentials, virtual teams and project management.
Business Book Summaries summarize the top business books to help employees learn new concepts and see if the book is something of interest.
The books also are available in more than 30 languages with PDF and audio recordings.
GlobeSmart offers employees the chance to learn more about different cultures and improve how they work with other regions.
“We want to build a culture of learning,” said Jeff Sisolak, manager, Global L&D, IT. “I want people to know what’s out there. So when there is a need, they know where to go. In addition, we are exploring technology options, like a Ford YouTube, to offer bite-size training at the moment an employee needs it.”
Although this is still in development stages, it is an example of how Ford is responding to the changing learning needs of its workforce.
There also is a link to the Digital Worker SharePoint site, which offers employees an abundance of tools to help them in their day-to-day work, including “How iWork” scenarios and “How Do I Tools.”
Although not sponsored by Ford and not found on the Ford site, there are other resources outside of Ford that offer “massively open online courses.” Coursera.org allows people to take free courses from top-rated universities worldwide. These classes come with homework, lectures and group discussions.
Colleges fresh with content
Each skill team is responsible for creating its own competency framework over the next few years and corresponding learning solutions – which are expanding well beyond the classroom.
“My team creates learning experiences for Product Development and Quality that are aligned to their needs,” said Amy Garby, dean, College of Engineering. “We offer a variety of learning solutions from lunch and learns to training events, training modules for new processes, to e-learning or instructor-led courses. We even have TECH Talks (short interactive videos) and can help our customers create podcasts so that best practices and lessons learned can be shared with a broad audience.”
And this variety of training isn’t stale material either.
“We have new or updated courses coming in each week,” said Pat Dalter, manager, Global Learning Systems. “Due to changes in technology, we have been able to increase the pace at which we develop training and it is much more cost efficient.”
Each college has unique ways of promoting learning opportunities and encouraging team members to participate. The Colleges of IT and Engineering conduct a week focused on training. The College of Engineering sends out a quarterly newsletter with updates and learning features.
With an array of learning solutions, L&D is encouraging the use of blended learning.
“Blended learning is training that combines multiple delivery methods together,” said Halsey. “Just telling someone what to do once or using a PowerPoint presentation isn’t a good way to ensure information is retained in long-term memory. People only retain about 5 percent of what they hear, and that percentage decreases when we have a lot on our minds. We all have more and more distractions competing for our attention at any given moment, so we have to change the way we think about up-skilling our employees. After a learning event, we have to reinforce information, allow employees to apply it to their work and offer opportunities to practice to ensure we master new skills and competencies. The highest retention rates come from teaching materials and from immediate use.”
To expand the ways we learn and share ideas, L&D is introducing social media solutions.
There is a Social Media Task Force that is looking at what tools can help improve employee job performance from blogs to SharePoint sites.
“It’s not a one-to-one conversation,” said Garby. “It’s many-to-many. You can reach a wider audience with the conversation. Lessons and ideas can be delivered and grow at a much faster rate.”
Social media tools can be instrumental in improving efficiencies for virtual global teams. As one team member leaves for the day in Europe, someone in China could start working on the same project, in the same environment. In addition, Fordipedia offers a chance for employees to benefit from each other’s learning across the globe.
Learning is an evolving process, and something that everyone can benefit from, even experts.
“Don Lough, dean of OGC, reminded me that even one the world’s premier golfers, Tiger Woods, takes golf lessons,” said Halsey. “Like Tiger, Ford experts need to develop their skills, fine-tune their game. Professional athletes don’t stop practicing and we’re no different in the business world. Our game is a little different, but we need to ensure we’re playing the best possible game. Sustained practice and life-long learning helps us win and go further.”