In a business world that’s evolving at the speed of light, how can companies continue to create effective learning experiences that stick?
Over the past two decades that I’ve been consulting with learning and development (L&D) teams, I’ve seen seismic shifts in an organization’s understanding of, and approach to, learning in the workplace. L&D practitioners have had to find new and innovative ways to reach an increasingly distracted and over-committed workforce. Competition for employee time, deeply specialized roles, a diverse, multigenerational employee base, and a work-from-anywhere environment have forced L&D practitioners to adapt how they identify needs, develop tools, and deliver training.
Here are five proven ways to break through the clutter to create and deliver meaningful, modern L&D programs that resonate:
1. Rely on the experts. Given the fast pace at which business is evolving, top-down training is no longer effective. L&D groups simply can’t move quickly enough to produce learning content to solve every new business problem. Too often, this leads to clunky learning experiences that are ineffective and outdated.
Instead, create training from the bottom up – seeking input from the subject matter experts, rather than trying to create all the content yourself. To create meaningful material efficiently, you must give up some of the control, and let others take the reins. When you turn to the people who know the material best, your training will get produced faster, with relevant content, and consequently deliver more effective results.
2. Make it simple, focused and mobile-friendly. To make a real business impact, learning must be quick, easy, relevant, and experience-based. Put the user in control of when and how they learn by making the information available when it’s convenient to them. Provide it in a format that’s easy to access, and lets them digest information in bite-sized pieces.
Go digital. For better or worse, we rely on our phones for everything now, and L&D is no exception. To meet the needs of an agile workforce, every learning initiative must be mobile friendly.
3. Use your people.
- Crowdsource your learning needs from every employee so you know what will have the most impact. A little bit of research upfront can tell you exactly what will work for your people, and build buy-in and commitment for when you rollout the training that they requested.
- Make sharing easy. To leverage expertise within the company, make sure there are efficient ways for employees to engage with one another. Take advantage of internal collaboration tools and platforms to make creating and posting content intuitive and searchable. Make sure you’re promoting these platforms regularly through all your communications channels, and monitoring their use and effectiveness.
- Leverage champions in the organization. According to this LinkedIn study, 56% of employees say they would take a course that their manager suggested.
Who are the influencers in your organization? Whose recommendations will add credibility, and impact employee decisions to make the time for training? Use these champions at every stage of the process – they can help you identify learning needs, develop content, promote learning tools, and even define success measures.
- Create real-time feedback loops with learners. To ensure that you’re continuing to keep the end user front and center, make sure you have a two-way mechanism to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not. For example, give them an option to seek help, comment, like, or rate particular sections of the training on every page, as they are consuming the material.
4. Frame off-the-shelf content. If you use off-the-shelf content, be sure to contextualize it to make it relevant to your culture or organization. It’s not enough to simply provide canned training – you need to follow up and enhance that training with relevant examples and discussion that will make the training meaningful to the day-to-day experience of your people.
5. Be ready to make adjustments along the way. Monitor how effectively your learning initiatives are landing, using metrics around course completion, employee engagement, and satisfaction, and be prepared to evolve your training to better suit employee needs.
The pace of disruption and business evolution show no signs of slowing. As a result, employee learning needs can seem infinite and even unpredictable, but these guiding principles will always apply. If you leverage your resources, keep it simple, contextualize off-the-shelf training, and measure success, you will meet the learning needs of your people head on.