How to Create Social Learning Moments on Your Team

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and project manager living and working in London. She runs The Otobos Group, a project communications consultancy specializing in project management.

We all work with highly skilled individuals, who all have a lot of knowledge and experience to share. And as the workforce changes, we need to pass on that knowledge to new starters on the team so that the organization as a whole benefits from the collective wisdom of employees past and present.

That statement is great to have as a vision. But how do we make it a reality for our PMOs and project teams? The answer is easier than you might think. Social learning is the idea that behavior can be influenced by observing and imitating others. In other words, you learn by what you see around you.

Social learning isn’t a radical new concept: My children learned how to get into my phone by watching me enter my passcode (since changed to fingerprint recognition). We learn from those around us.

The theory of social learning is that the process of learning itself is grounded in the social context of where we are. You can learn new things simply by observing others—which is what I did when I worked in France and needed to fit in with the cultural norms. While I did have French language lessons (and colleagues to advise on what was appropriate and what wasn’t), I also learned a lot just by soaking up what was happening around me.

Basically, social learning happens even if there isn’t any formal training on offer. You don’t need formal instruction …


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