A recent study by Pfeffer and Sutton, presented in their book "The Knowing-Doing Gap," found that when 1,000 employees in business, government, and nonprofit organization were surveyed, it turned out that most workplace learning goes on "unbudgeted, unplanned, and uncaptured by the organization." Up to 70% of workplace learning is informal, say these researchers. It takes place around the water cooler, or in trial and error with customers, or at meetings or gab sessions between workers.
Most of us know how to do our jobs, but how to maneuver them in the particular company we're working for, where to go for help, knowing who's likely to sabotage, who has the boss' ear, who 'really runs thing' -- this kind of vital information get passed around through the grapevine. It's never covered in the policies and procedural manual, and doesn't come up in training sessions.
Furthermore, this type of learning, which is informal and experiential (learning by participating) is serious. It packs a lot of wallop because it's had an impact on the person him- or herself.
It's important to know how to learn informally on the job and it's important not to underestimate the importance of it. Keep your hand on the pulse of the organization if you're the boss, and stay in the loop if you're an employee. This sort of EQ -- emotional intelligence -- is usually more important to your career and your ability to run your business than your IQ, and it isn't covered in the text books.
Susan Dunn is a personal and professional development coach working in the areas of strengths, emotional intelligence and inner work. Visit her on the web at http://www.susandunn.cc