Three Lessons On Creating A Culture Of Learning

Andrew Scivally, CEO, eLearning Brothers – helping organizations create and deliver employee learning that rocks.

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Most CEOs are well versed in the main benefits of training: Encouraging workers to learn new skills and providing them with high-quality training can help improve engagement, which can also improve talent retention and revenue.

I have observed companies wrestle with good — and sometimes bad — ways of harnessing technology to address their training needs since I got into the e-learning space back in 2001, which was almost at the beginning of the industry. After building my own e-learning company from the ground up, I’ve learned there is yet another less-talked-about benefit to corporate learning: Companies that give workers more options in learning are better equipped to adapt quickly to new challenges.

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I consider Amazon an example of a company that is truly embracing learning and development as part of its culture. In 2017, the tech giant launched its “Pivot” training program, which pairs underperforming employees with expert employees. Then, two years ago, Amazon invested a staggering $700 million into retraining workers in advanced skills.

Fast forward to the year 2020. I don’t have to tell you that Amazon suddenly found itself in need of exactly those kinds of employees. I believe the company’s investment in the development of its workers paid off, and Amazon was well positioned to shift more resources to its website and fulfillment teams to handle the massive growth the company experienced throughout the pandemic.

Businesses rely on flexibility to withstand the inevitable changes in business and take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Nurturing a culture of learning and personal growth among employees allows each individual to be ready to change and adapt. Therefore, the company as a whole is ready for whatever comes its way.

Advancing that culture starts with developing learning systems workers actually want to use and managers find valuable. Here are some things to consider that may help accomplish this goal:

1. People want to be in control.

Giving people choices gives them freedom. Research has shown that autonomy is even more valuable to some workers than pay raises. Career development is, at its core, about enriching the skills of individuals, so it makes sense to provide individual training opportunities instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Options on their own don’t necessarily lead to better results. Instead of just more choices, workers need smarter choices. Replace a two-day seminar with a series of remote activities that can be completed anytime within a two-week window. Instead of a single hands-on experience, create several courses and allow workers to choose the one that aligns most closely with their responsibilities. Instead of a mandatory presentation, let learners take an early assessment to determine the knowledge they already have, and give them a tailored path forward.

Microlearning, the practice of breaking courses up into five- to seven-minute modules, allows workers to fit training into their schedule in a productive way. When they need to master new skills, the resources they need are instantly available.

Choices about the time, place and mechanism of learning help relieve the burden of training. More options also help workers get excited about the possibility of working toward both the goals of the organization and their personal career goals.

I’ve found that the more control people have over their own future, the more productive your workforce can be.

2. Learning has to be modernized.

Outdated methods of training, such as needlessly detailed tests on thick training manuals, noninteractive lectures or cheesy videos from the 1990s can be distracting to learners, which could, in turn, cause them to miss the goal entirely.

Modernized content, as well as modernized delivery methods, can help create a strong training program. For example, I’ve observed through my own company’s services that videos, games, quizzes, virtual brainstorming sessions and more are a far better way to engage learners today.

Videos are still one of the most popular forms of training, and for good reason. Marketers have turned to video because many people prefer video over text when learning about a product or service. To compete with the billions of hours of content already available, companies should go where their learners want to be and produce smart, attention-grabbing video content to reinforce ideas.

3. Activity tracking is lagging behind.

Modern workplace training has to focus on learner interests to be effective, but managers need smart tools as well. Training is often a regulated exercise, and assessment is a crucial part of corporate success. The problem is, the move to e-learning and modular learning activities isn’t always accompanied by improved tracking systems.

In the past, measuring training has mostly consisted of tracking attendance and the occasional skills test. Modern learning has the potential to provide so much more insight into how workers use training resources, what works and what doesn’t, and which knowledge points employees are struggling to grasp.

Activity tracking should begin in a learning management system, with digital reports on course completion and test scores, but your view of what training is also needs to expand. On-the-job training should be credited. Webinars that workers attend from pure interest can often fulfill the same need as an assigned video. Broad tracking methods to keep up with the pace of modern learning are essential.

Corporate learning was on the on-ramp to an online shift well before the global pandemic forced the issue. While some industries have been slow to adapt, many large companies have relied heavily on e-learning technology for years.

After 2020, it’s clear that brands that are slow to give learners choices, adopt modern training techniques and change the way learning is tracked will miss out on creating a robust workforce ready to lean into whatever 2021 has to throw at them.

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Andrew Scivally, CEO, eLearning Brothers – helping organizations create and deliver employee learning that rocks. Read Andrew Scivally’s full executive profile here.

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