On-the-job experience is a rich source of professional learning. But incremental improvement and a new base of knowledge are very different assets, and knowledge workers need both to remain valuable and relevant. High performing teams dedicate specific time for members to acquire new knowledge in a social learning environment. They also work as a team to identify their knowledge gaps and structure activities where individuals learn together.
Dedicating time for team-directed learning can be challenging, particularly in organizations with mandatory continuing education or compliance training requirements. Those activities build a base line of industry knowledge, but they don’t provide the competitive advantage that allows some teams to outperform others. High-performing organizations provide team members with the time to join communities of practice with people who share their professional interests. These organizations also provide teams with hands-on learning tools for activities like simulation and role play.