How to Apply the Social Learning Theory in the Workplace

Be a better boss by learning how your employees learn.
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In the workplace, you may take on the role of a teacher. Employees need to learn new business strategies, technology and skills. However, you can't just throw new knowledge at employees and hope that it sticks. Bandura's Social Learning Theory describes how different people are better or worse learners depending on the social context of the learning. Take this theory into account to make sure your entire team is on the same page.

    Step 1

    Use the three learning contexts when introducing new material: live model demonstration, verbal instruction and symbolic modeling. For example, in introducing a new style of interacting with customers, you should provide a live roleplay of talking to a customer, give a short lecture on guidelines and provide a flow chart of the process.

    Step 2

    Open teaching sessions by grabbing the employees' attention. This usually involves separating them from workplace distractions. In a short meeting, employees are thinking about what they need to do once they get back to their desks. When starting a new topic, set aside an entire day, or the second half of the day, to focus on introducing the material.

    Step 3

    Motivate employees to retain the new material by showing them how it will help them in their daily activities. You may also offer rewards such as providing refreshments or letting employees off early if they demonstrate mastery of the material.

    Step 4

    Provide opportunities to recall and use materials at future meetings and refresher courses. If you don't use it, you may lose it.

    Step 5

    Reward employees who successfully demonstrate mastery of the new concept. This can be bonuses, preference for promotion or an office pizza party or beers after work. Reward the team for meeting team goals, but avoid labeling individuals as winners or losers.

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