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Employee Development

Employee Development

In considering how people grow and develop, we need to understand how people learn.

Think about….

How would you define ‘learning’?

In ‘The Manual of Learning Styles’ (1986), Peter Honey and Alan Mumford said that someone has learned something when either or both if the following

S/he knows something s/he did not earlier and can show it

S/he is able to do something s/he was not able to do before

Diana Laurillard in ‘Rethinking University Teaching’ (2002) made the point that there is a big difference between those who conceive learning as being about:

the increase of knowledge


the acquisition of facts, procedures for use in practice

and those for whom it involves:

the abstraction of meaning

an interpretive process for understanding reality

Another popular definition of learning, especially in relation to the development of skills (as opposed to knowledge) is the ‘conscious competence matrix’ (or ‘ladder’). In this, a person moves through the following stages:

Unconscious incompetence

You are unaware of your lack of skill (“you don’t know what you don’t know”)

Conscious incompetence

You are aware of a lack of skill

Conscious competence

You have the skill but have to think about putting it into practice

Unconscious competence

You are able to put the skill into practice without thinking about it


Think of a positive work related learning experience, Why was it effective? In thinking about this, you should consider such things as:

Whether you were presented with abstract concepts or undertook a practical activity;

Whether you were given time to reflect, practice and discuss new ideas and skills;

Whether you experienced such things as fear, enjoyment, discomfort;

How well you have remembered what you learned.


Read the CIPD factsheet on Learning Styles. This is available from their website at restricted to CIPD members).

Something to Think About

Take a look at the document entitled 'Kolb's Learning Cycle' and consider the question it contains.


View the Introduction to Learning Styles slides [Introduction to Learning Styles CDMSWE04.ppt] and complete the activity using the Questionnaire and Score Sheet.

[Learning Styles Questionniare.doc] [LSQ Score Sheet.doc]

When you have done so, read the Learning Styles Definitions. [Learning Styles Definitions.doc].

How far do you agree with the outcome? Discuss this with your fellow students and tutor via the online discussion board.

Additional Resources

A useful free online source of information is Business Balls (

Chapter Ten of “Management and Organisational Behaviour” covers this topic in depth, as will other books to which you may have access.


Learning happens all the time, not just – maybe for some people especially not – in formal learning situations.

This table lists a selection of learning methods. Complete it by adding the pros and cons and provide an example of how it is or might be used in your service.





Training Course

On the job training

On the job learning

Observation/job shadowing

Project Work

Job Exchange


Development Centres


Coaching and mentoring

Discuss your completed table with fellow students and tutor using the discussion forum.