Date of Conferral







Patricia Brewer


Collaborative communication skills are underdeveloped through higher education experiences; therefore, employees need to develop these skills while working. Current research has not focused on how employees identify collaborative communication skills developed from informal workplace learning experiences, specifically those presented as coaching, mentoring, and networking. Marsick and Watkins’s informal workplace learning theory was the conceptual framework for this basic qualitative study, which used a researcher-produced interview protocol with eight United States employees who had been in their positions longer than 6 months. Data were analyzed using three rounds of hand coding. Participants described how informal coaching, mentoring, and networking encounters influenced the development of five skills: giving and receiving feedback, oral communication, listening, presenting, and crafting emails. Participants also described how the roles they played during encounters, how they sought respected individuals to model, and how the tone and timing of messages influenced collaborative communication skill development and were important in coaching and mentoring. Adults who can recognize skill development from informal workplace learning may more readily apply the skills during the workday, while employer affirmation of learning in the workplace may positively influence employee esteem. Social change may result if both the employers and employees recognize the possible effect of informal workplace learning on employee satisfaction and productivity.