If this post describes your organization, you need to make the transition to a learning culture.
The amount and complexity of knowledge and skills that each of your employees needs is increasing dramatically every day due to technology and globalization. Simple, repetitive tasks are being automated (e.g., banking) and online technologies are disrupting traditional businesses (e.g., transportation). Employees that survive automation and disruption will need to know more and do more.
Employees need to learn quickly. They need to acquire new information, new skills, and develop new abilities and they need to do this in a way in which that learning will be retained and applied immediately. They can no longer rely on formal training events. Stephen J. Meyer, addressed this issue in his blog for Forbes online:
Any corporate learning professional will tell you that sales and leadership training need to be processes, not events. The learning cognoscenti know there are no shortcuts to effective learning. If sales managers want their inside sales team to conduct powerful discovery, they’ve got to teach an approach, listen to tapes, let reps self-evaluate, give feedback, listen to more tapes, give more feedback, and so on. Leadership training requires a similar process. For high-level soft skills training, organizations need to create a path to mastery, and accompany people down that path.
Current onboarding and training programs are not helping you achieve your business goals. Dani Johnson, writing for Bersin by Deloitte, explains that the old corporate training model worked because information moved top-down, there was one way to do things, and the corporate sponsored job-training was all an employee needed (or so they believed). Now, according to Johnson, this is no longer the case. Johnson writes:
…advances often mean that people who show up to training events know as much as, if not more than, the facilitators. They also have other options for learning than just company training. Information is ubiquitous, free, and comes from many, many sources.
Likewise, today’s knowledge workers are asked to do more than just complete tasks. Now the focus is on “thinking outside the box,” embracing innovation, improving processes, and helping the company to better compete.
This shift in focus leaves L&D in uncharted waters. The processes and infrastructures that L&D organizations have built over the years are reinforced by architectures, systems, and technology which support antiquated thinking. L&D departments need to completely reinvent themselves; and they need to develop new skills, capabilities, and behaviors in order to do it.
In the past, your L&D department could get away with delivering well attended, well-liked training programs. Today, L&D is being asked to show evidence that learning interventions are contributing to the bottom-line. The approach of Jenny Dearborn at SAP is an example of this. In January 2016 issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine, Kate Iverson quotes Dearborn:
Justifying and inciting change in an engineering organization like SAP requires hard metrics. Dearborn would argue that’s the case for CLOs in general. “As a learning professional, if you can’t provision your program without affecting those metrics that an executive thinks about, then you really shouldn’t be having this conversation,” she said. “If you can’t speak that language, you’re out of your league.”
The pace of change is making it difficult for your organization to compete effectively in the marketplace unless the organization is constantly learning. You need a work environment that is supporting learning all the time so that you can respond quickly to trends and disruptions in your industry and your customers. You must be able acquire new knowledge and skills in anticipation of these changes and as they take place. For example, if customers are demanding same-day delivery and some retailers are meeting that demand, then any company that can’t adapt will be faced with a tremendous loss of business.
You have a multi-generational and diverse workforce that requires a learning culture. This is a workforce that is clamoring for personalization. One size does not fit all. Increasing and maintaining employee engagement and productivity depends on being responsive to the individual learning needs of workers. Some older workers are waiting for management to push what they need to know to them; some younger workers want to pull what they want to know and do it now. Elliott Masie puts it this way in January 2016 issue of Chief Learning Officer:
The future of learning has embraced the fascinating reality of personalization. More than ever, our workers expect to be able to select, sequence, manage and access learning resources in a manner of their choosing.
Personalization is the ability to choose time, device, style and even intensity of content, context or collaboration. But is personal choice the learning goal?
The learner might have some ingrained preferences. [The learner] might like video more than reading or practice more than theory. A learner might be drawn to one topic and have no interest in another key element of a curriculum. Or, [a learner] might feel fully competent in an area and skip a learning offering altogether.
Your work teams are not as efficient and effective as they need to be. Meetings are tedious, time consuming, and unproductive. Team projects are late and over-budget. Team members are not engaged in the work. Often, this is because team leaders and members do not know how to be successful. This is something the team can learn. To do that they need to learn how to learn about teamwork.
And your organization as a whole could be better at communicating across silos, strategic planning, making decisions that affect everyone, managing information, and creating a positive climate. In other words, your organization needs to "get better at getting better." This takes learning; learning how to continually improve as an organization.
A training culture, which is what we’ve had in most organizations for the past 100 years, cannot meet the needs of workers, teams, and organizations in the world we live in today. The pace of change, the need to adapt quickly, global competition, personalization of learning, and a demand for results, are all forces that make it necessary for learning to be constant, for everyone, using many different methods . If that's not your organization, start making the transition now.