Boost Employee Engagement with the Learning Triangle

Employee engagement is your strategy for success

Low employee engagement levels often hinder the success and innovation within a company. So much so, that according to the Harvard Business Review, “highly engaged organizations have double the rate of success of less engaged organizations.” Organizations with strong employee engagement have also reported up to 65% lower turnover, 48% fewer safety incidents and 41% fewer quality incidents.

Business executives are recognizing the need for more engaged employees, with nine out of ten executives ranking employee engagement as an important or very important priority for their companies, according to the Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report.


How the employee engagement landscape will change

Still, there are many reasons for continued low engagement. Often this is due to an outdated view of company organization. “The organization of the future” addresses these old ways of thinking, discouraging the hierarchical organization in favor of more flexible, team-centric models. This allows a team to share information, in essence teaching one another. They are then able to work together to complete tasks efficiently.  Then move on to new teams where their newly found knowledge is shared again. This process spreads knowledge while reinforcing the lessons just learned.

In addition to this change in organizational models, this year’s “10 Trends from Deloitte University Press,” states that organizations must:

  • Move faster, adapt more quickly, learn rapidly

  • Use continuous learning so employees are always be able to grow

  • Develop an integrated focus on the whole employee experience

  • Create a completely different kind of leader—younger, more agile and "digital-ready"

  • Experiment and implement cognitive tools, focus on retraining people to use these tools, and rethink the role of people as more and more work becomes automated

To keep up with rapid changes, organizations need to shift from a command-and-control culture to a creative culture, as described. This includes a focus on:

  • Experiential learning

  • Process change

  • Transparency

  • Data-driven accountability

In this blog we’ll discuss ways the Learning Triangle can help integrate these changes into your organization.


Effective learning for growth & engagement

Unfortunately, most 2017 employee development strategies are old school. These outdated models pigeonhole individuals as either teacher/boss or student/employee. This binary, top-down system was useful in the industrial age, but the world has changed. While the majority of executives agree that these changes must occur, only 11% have reported that they understand how to go about it, according to Global Human Capital Trends.

George Kembel, entrepreneur and co-founder of the, Stanford University, swung by Gloo quarters to explain how the Learning Triangle offers a solution by increasing learning and aiding in engagement.

“Once a skill is learned, it is practiced.

Once practiced, it is taught.”

To summarize, the builds on methods from across the field of design to create learning experiences that help people lead organizations and solve world problems.Although not everyone swims in oceans of wisdom, the Learning Triangle anchors us in a different way of learning. Kembel defines this as situated learning. It’s similar to the way the team-centric models from “the organization of the future” function. Once a skill is learned, it is practiced. Once practiced, it is taught. Then a new skill is learned, etc. 

This allows you to get your message out in the world by giving your people the practical experience necessary to master your message and experience the personal growth they need to stay engaged and innovate. Kembel Takes It Global, May 2017

In this 3.5 minute video, George Kembel takes you through the learning triangle. It will make you rethink how your organization can support employee growth.


Learning postures not roles

Learning Triangle Theory is based on personal development in an organization that is continuous, nimble and experience-based for the greatest impact. To keep learning flexible, each mindset within the Triangle is defined as a posture or mode. As a mode, individuals can step in and out quickly, becoming a learner, a doer, a teacher— as opposed to roles which most people associate with stages of life.

This way of moving between mindsets creates an environment of:

  • Constant learning, development and growth

  • Ever-expanding knowledge and practice

  • Engagement and innovation

  • Empowerment by encouraging everyone to lead and learn

  • Understanding and increased retention

  • Opportunities for increased connections between people

The technology that integrates the principles taught in the Learning Triangle present greater opportunities for growth.

Widespread impact

As stated by Kembel, this approach can have profound impact. Your people will learn more as individuals and they will spread a culture of learning throughout your organization as they shift between postures. Learning Triangle Theory produces the kinds of accountable rewards that engage employees as they go from learner to doer and doer to teacher, and so on.

Apply the Learning Triangle in the workplace

This type of experiential learning gets employees involved and gives them practical experience. But how do you integrate it into the workplace? Here’s an example of how you can apply the Learning Triangle with your employees. I used a sales team example, but I’m sure you can think of ways to apply this on your team.

Employee-led instruction:  

1. Take a top sales performer out of “doer” mode and into” teacher” mode by asking them to share their strongest skill with 2 teammates.

2. Help those teammates transition into “doer” mode by role playing their new skill or applying the new skill on the fly.

3. Ask those new “doers” to transition into “teacher” mode by sharing this new skill with 2 more teammates.

4. Repeat the process!

Empower everyone to lead and learn

Growth happens when people learn to move freely between the three modes of learning, doing and teaching. Understanding that each is a mode and not a life role allows for more growth as individuals repeat the process in their work and personal lives. When this process is introduced in a team-centric model, it allows for individuals to learn from the group as a whole, or from each team member individually, then to share that accumulated understanding in other settings. It propels the learning process forward, encouraging the innovation, creativity and growth necessary for an engaging environment.