There is no doubt, the training needs of employees have radically changed in the past few years. We see at least three forces at work that drive this change:
· The workforce is changing
· The work is changing
· And tech is changing everything
As a result, those of us in L&D need to adapt. Let’s investigate each one and look at how we can change to a new mindset and design for solutions that better meet the learners’ needs.
We now have four generations working together. Everyone from Baby Boomers to Gen Z bring in preferences and experiences. However, at home, we have consumer devices that drive expectations of how applications should behave at work. Employees want fast career growth which brings a shorter tenure to each job. The gig economy is changing how we all work, even in large enterprises. Teams span beyond the typical hierarchical structure to matrix or network groups.
For L&D, this means that people need and want to upskill quickly. They expect to fill their skills gaps and move on. These changes feed into the desire for blended learning, as well as for microlearning. It changes expectations to a consumer experience and lessens learner patience.
Business today has three speeds – fast, faster, and as fast as you can. People and teams are spread across the globe. As a result, skills have a shorter shelf life. People need and want to be agile and adapt to change. Learners need to be able to be responsible for their own training and skill building. The role of a manager changes as well, driving higher performance quickly.
For L&D, this speed means that our old ways of taking months to create a solution will no longer work. Speed and demands mean that people cannot afford the luxury of instructor-led classes. It means that we have to provide tools that allow self-directed learning and tools to enable easy discovery. Less face-to-face solutions mean more informal and social solutions that scale.
The rise of cloud computing and mobile technology means that everyone is connected 24/7. Employees expect a consumer experience at work video, micro moments, searchable solutions, and social components. Technology enables better solutions and simpler access.
For L&D, now we can move beyond the LMS. We have access to thousands of pieces of subscription content and we can create content using advanced tools that require less work and better experiences. We can blend formal training with informal, social content and with microlearning to provide a richer, deeper experience. Now we have tools that let us produce spaced learning to address the forgetting curve.
Okay, we know what is going on. We see the writing on the wall. But this is no small change for us. Let’s map out a plan to see where we can go and talk about an example.
For those of us who have been around for a few years, we know the first step is looking at a needs analysis. While performance consulting is no small job, it should be one of our first steps. The questions that I ask up front are:
· For your organization, where are the biggest skill gaps?
· Where is the industry going that my employees need to upskill?
· How can I use tools to adapt?
For example, in an organization that I was a part of, we had explosive growth in several developing countries, which was driving a serious shortage for front-line managers. We could not scale the two-day "Welcome to Management" class fast enough to meet that demand. And the class was a fire hose of information, often overwhelming the participants. Our solution was to take that class and break it up into nine chapters. Each chapter had a blend of microlearning with a virtual component in the middle with coaching and exercises. Content was available and easy to find to solve moments of need. Groups took the “chapters” in cohorts, led by former ILT instructors.
In this example, we used a variety of tools to create each chunk. We used rapid development tools to quickly design microlearning pieces. We hosted the content in the cloud and made it easy to find. And we re-trained classroom instructors to be more like coaches. We also reached out to high performing managers to help create content that would resonate with the new managers.
Another example: We needed to fill a business acumen skill gap at senior levels. To address this need, we put together several solutions. First, we asked the CFO to sponsor a set of “Talk Business Acumen to me” videos. We started using a high production value video of the CFO, and continued with livestreams from senior leaders in finance on to their mobile. Then, content was packaged around each topic: reference guides, short videos from a subscription vendor, and links to key articles on the web.
Lastly, we purchased a set of content from a subscription vendor and put together a blend of topics that helped everyone understand how our enterprise worked in Finance. We created cascade kits for managers to lead teams though discussions. Simple, one-hour meeting discussions with slides are available to managers to deliver content to teams. Scalable, engaging solutions.
So, given the massive amounts of change going on in learning, what can you do to meet the challenges?
The first steps would be to upskill on creating and designing digital content. There are tons of articles on microlearning, curation, and moment of need (including on this site). Next, I suggest learning tools that make creation and curation easy, like knowbly™. If you can create quickly and easily, you are more likely to create in shorter bursts. When creating this new form, keep in mind the following guidelines:
· Less is best. Filter and review to the least amount of content.
· Ask yourself: is this an experience the learner needs in order to be successful?
· Design a flow that is adaptable. Let people pick only what they need to personalize it.
· Blend modalities to keep it engaging and to customize to the learner needs.
Look for more articles on curation, culture, and design in this blog to help you move to digital learning.