Experiential Learning is the best way to learn at work

One of the most valued attributes an employee can bring to the workplace is their experience.  In a fast-changing world where employees are more likely to move from job to job for a number of reasons;  sometimes great knowledge and skill are present, but not necessarily experience.  The problem is of course experience takes time and often we are short of that commodity!  If you have great staff but they simply lack experience, or you want to recruit new people and you have a misgiving about an otherwise great CV because experience hasn’t been gained.  There are 3 strategies you can employ to accelerate experience and give your employees a valuable edge.  These are all based on experiential learning techniques:

Workplace action learning

Workplace action learning an experiential learning technique used in the UK since the 1940s can be a vastly successful means of developing people and teams.  It is a means of deepening experience and improving performance in short periods of time.  Conducted in a set or a team of people, members can come from a similar type of jobs or roles within an organisation.  Alternatively, members can be from a specific team with a variety of roles.

Drawing on members experiences and learning within the workplace:  Action learning is an excellent and powerful way to accelerate experiential learning.  The motto of learning from others mistakes and successes is paramount here.  It has a clear system of enquiry and solution.  Members will present or bring their challenges, problems or questions to the set.  The rest of the set will challenge and bring observation to the issues raised, broadening and developing ideas.  The set will go away and take action on the issue. Further opportunities to report back learning or best practice will be built into the sessions.

Project Management/involvement

Involving employees in projects is a great way to accelerate experiential learning,  Opportunities to learn in areas of work outside of their normal job role can help to increase experience in a short space of time.  Depending on their usual job specification, the type of project they might be involved in can be specifically chosen to enhance knowledge, skills and interpersonal skills.

Great project management is about planning, scoping, communication, negotiation and customer/stakeholder involvement to name but a few aspects.

Project membership will bring the employee into contact with people outside of their usual remit.  It will expose them to problems, issues and challenges the day job simply might not give them access to in a short space of time.

Job Swap/Shadowing

A job swap or shadowing exercise is a great way to accelerate experiential learning.  Being exposed to the workload and work practices of more experienced colleagues/colleagues with greater responsibilities can help to develop a perception of the challenges these people would face, and how they would respond.   A job shadow would allow the employee to observe. A job swap would give them the opportunity to experience a different role for themselves.  Either way, swapping or shadowing will give a greater number of insights which can help accelerate experience.

Some of the benefits of integrating these 3 strategies are

Helps employees to:

  • Increase self-confidence
  • Work better as a team
  • Take responsibility for problem-solving
  • Be innovative
  • Develop networking and communication skills
  • Develop theoretical thinking into practical examples
  • Work smarter


  • Structured support
  • Disciplined thinking skills
  • A platform for meaningful and relevant work-based learning


  • Organisational coherence
  • A consistent approach to problem-solving
  • greater experience in a short time.

Do you have any strategies to help employees to accelerate their learning, or have you been involved in an activity which has accelerated your learning?

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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.