J A N U A R Y/ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0
agile learning THE EVOLVING WAY WE WORK | 16 Agile Learning Strategies for the Modern Learner
COMBATING RISING SKILLS GAPS | 26 Paying Attention to Training Preferences
BUILDING CHANGE RESILIENCE | 34 5 Strategies to Build a Resilient Team
FROM THE EDITOR
BUILDING AN ADAPTABLE WORKFORCE
Today’s workplace requires a more adaptable employee. The rate of change we are experiencing continues to increase and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. To remain competitive, organizations need a skilled workforce that easily adapts to changing circumstances and engineers creative solutions to today’s problems. The training function bears the responsibility for ensuring training programs are in place to develop employees who can successfully navigate the complexities of this modern workplace.
THE COUPLING OF WORK AND LEARNING IS THE FUTURE OF L&D.
That responsibility comes with a significant challenge to our function: We must establish a network – both inside and external to our learning and development (L&D) team – so we can be aware of change. To truly support the new vision of the adaptable employee, our programs must be ready to accept emerging requirements. We have seen dynamic and responsive L&D teams develop their programs using a modular approach, so the programs can be adapted quickly and rolled out to instructors with speed and clarity. This is a big stretch from how L&D teams are managing and developing training today. This issue of Training Industry Magazine brings focus to developing employees who can learn, adapt and apply knowledge as the business evolves.
In this edition, you will find articles on fostering change resilience, using learner preferences to close skills gaps, and agile learning strategies to support the modern learner. The L&D function needs to become part of the future of work discussion. Training professionals need a seat at the table. We need to better understand the principle of agile as a management strategy and how our own companies may employ agile concepts to support change inside the organization. New workflows may allow our learning materials to be built into our employees’ daily routines. The coupling of work and learning is the future of L&D. Embedding learning experiences into an employee’s workflow will make learning seamless and second nature. As we start 2020, hopefully some of the ideas presented in this issue will spark a conversation within your team about how we can become more aware of change and how best to embrace it. As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about the perspectives shared in this edition. Please feel free to send any suggestions for future editions of Training Industry Magazine for us to consider. Ken Taylor is the president and editor in chief of Training Industry, Inc. Email Ken.
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MAGAZ INE -AGILE LEARNING 2020 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
CO N T E N TS
TA B L E O F VOLUME 13
16 THE EVOLVING WAY WE WORK
16 20 24
26 COMBATING RISING SKILLS GAPS
34 BUILDING CHANGE RESILIENCE
AGILE LEARNING STRATEGIES FOR THE MODERN LEARNER By Matt Donovan
Learners need the right mix of skills to keep pace with ever-evolving job roles and technology.
CLICKING FOR COMPLETION: HOW TO OVERCOME THE HYPERACTIVE E-LEARNER By Marie McIntyre
Develop relevant, applicable e-learning courses to keep learners engaged from start to finish.
CUTTING THROUGH THE CLUTTER: HOW TO CURATE CONTENT TO DRIVE HIGH-IMPACT COURSES By Rachel Elfenbein
Valuable learning experiences are tied to the needs of both learners and the business.
SKILLS GAPS RISE AS ORGANIZATIONS IGNORE WORKFORCE TRAINING PREFERENCES By Zane Schweer
Develop skills in your most valuable asset – your people – to remain completive in the skills economy.
CREATING A LEARNING STRATEGY FOR CHANGE USING THE SKILLS OF IMPROVISATION By Kristy West
Tap into and develop new skills – such as adaptability and resilience – by practicing improvisation.
5 KEYS TO BUILDING CHANGE RESILIENCE FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM By Noelle Akins
Employ these five key strategies to develop resiliency among your workforce.
WORKFLOW-ENABLED LEARNING: MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE MODERN LEARNER By Elizabeth Martin
Integrate learning into the employee experience and watch performance — and happiness — soar.
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MAGAZ INE -AGILE LEARNING 2020 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
IN THIS ISSUE
FROM THE EDITOR By Ken Taylor
Today’s workplace requires a more adaptable employee who can navigate change.
SCIENCE OF LEARNING
By Enzo Silva
L&D must offer on-the-job learning opportunities in the context of everyday work.
By Srini Pillay, M.D.
Optimize your brain to learn and adapt at the speed of change with these techniques.
PERFORMANCE MATTERS By Julie Winkle Giulioni
Address the ever-changing dynamics of business by instilling learnership in your workforce.
15 47 49 51
By Sam Shriver and Marshall Goldsmith
To demonstrate agility and resilience, leaders must learn new things constantly.
WHAT’S NEXT IN TECH By Stella Lee, Ph.D.
Leverage technology to magnify and enrich learning experiences.
SECRETS OF SOURCING By Doug Harward
Ensure alignment between the training function and the needs of the business with agility.
By Michelle Eggleston Schwartz
Help employees prioritize their own development in today’s fast-paced business world.
Learn how Airbnb leveraged customer experience training and improved business results.
In today’s global business environment, language learning programs yield major benefits.
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MEGAN CASADOS Director of Training DISH
MARC RAMOS Vice President, Chief Learning Officer Sitecore
LORNA HAGAN Chief People Officer OnDeck
KELLY RIDER Vice President, L&D Content Strategy & Experience SAP Learning & Development
BARBARA JORDAN, CPTM Group Vice President, Global Learning & Development Sims Metal Management
DR. SYDNEY SAVION General Manager, Learning Air New Zealand
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Management tools for the real heroes of your organization You are an HR superhero! Your challenges may be great, but the rewards are greater. You must take risks, manage people and organizations, juggle many initiatives all at once AND be a change agent. Your job requires you to be quick thinking, responsive, innovative and also courageous. You have the skills to help your employees realize their potential and the tenacity to achieve mission goals.
Learn how to grow your superpowers at csod.com
3 KEY TECHNOLOGY PRINCIPLES FOR INTEGRATED EMPLOYEE LEARNING EXPERIENCES
The digitization of the workforce and emerging technologies have disrupted learning and development (L&D). Today’s tech-savvy workforce expects technology to be a natural and frequent part of learning and working. This means that companies must provide mobile and social opportunities in the flow of work for employees to develop new skill sets.
consider the relationships between the content they’re creating, where and how the content will be consumed, and how to optimize it for discoverability by adopting tools within the organization and applying a metadata taxonomy.
L&D organizations need to become invisible, bringing their offerings into on-the-job experiences in the context of everyday work. “Creating a seamless user experience for the learner is what matters in the new invisible L&D organization,” according to Jennifer Juo, human resources and L&D insights editor at Udemy for Business. “Rather than creating content, L&D’s job is to curate content and find ways to surface this to learners in the moment of need through social media, AI, or internal websites.”
It is easy for organizations to be tempted by the latest tools in the market. However, chances are the tools necessary to create and publish content are already present in the organizations’ ecosystem. Bringing in new tools without proper analysis can be detrimental to the learning experience. Using existing tools available to an organization is a cost-effective solution that adheres to a company’s existing policies and strategy.
Here are three principles for integrated employee learning experiences: BUILD THE FOUNDATION BEFORE BRINGING IN THE LATEST TRENDS Organizations tend to place a lot of emphasis on industry trends, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), but forget to build the underlying data and technical structures to support the ideal user experience. Afterall, AI is only as smart as the content it accesses. It is important for content creators to properly tag, describe and link their content pieces into a holistic and seamless experience. Content owners need to
STANDARDIZE CONTENT DEVELOPMENT TOOLS
MAKE L&D PART OF THE LARGER ECOSYSTEM With all the content from various tools, repositories and channels in the L&D tech stack, it becomes even more important to provide audiences with a consumergrade, cohesive experience. As Kelly Rider, global head of learner experience at SAP, says, “The future learning experience isn’t about holding employees ‘hostage’ in one single application. It’s about saving employees time and making it easier to find what they need so they can perform their work.” In order to create a cohesive L&D experience, learning organizations need to apply the latest data-driven approaches.
For instance, a learning record store (LRS) allows users to track experiences and interactions with content outside the bounds of the formal, education-driven learning management system (LMS). When enterprise recommendations engines use LRS data, in addition to other user data, they can recommend more relevant experiences and content by applying machine learning to workforce development.
L&D ORGANIZATIONS NEED TO BECOME INVISIBLE. High-performing organizations focus on the simplicity of the learning experience. Consider implementing an adaptive, unified source for not only learning experiences but also for content from sources that employees are already using. Embed learning experiences in work experiences that are relevant to each audience segment. A holistic understanding of people, their needs and experiences is crucial to enabling employees to develop to their full potential. By adopting an experience management strategy for technology, organizations can create an enterprise system of action that not only improves employees’ everyday experiences throughout the employment lifecycle but also empowers business leaders to make strong talent decisions. Enzo Silva is a learning strategist at SAP. He has led and contributed to award-winning programs that support talent strategy and L&D mediated by technological principles and trends. Email Enzo.
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SRINI PIL LAY, M.D.
SCIENCE OF LEARNING
THE AGILE BRAIN: HOW YOU CAN LEARN TO DO LESS TO ADAPT AT THE SPEED OF CHANGE When people have to develop “learning agility,” they imagine that they somehow have to acquire superhuman multitasking skills or an unusual knack for adapting without skipping a beat. Just the thought of that can be exhausting. Instead, you have to make adjustments to the way you use your brain in order to work smarter – not harder. So, how do you optimize your brain to learn and adapt at the speed of change?
Small strategic efficiency changes can help you become more agile and develop a supertasking brain.
Developing perspective: A little strategy time never hurt anyone. Many people spring out of bed and rush off to work, getting their to-do lists together as fast as they can. While this may sound efficient, it often isn’t. When there are too many things in your brain, you develop a brain traffic bottleneck. All of a sudden, everything slows down. That initial rush leads to diminishing returns.
Did you know that our minds wander 47% of the time during the day? We need to learn to mind-wander strategically. For instance, a five- to 15-minute nap can give you up to three hours of clarity. Doodling during a conference call may improve your memory by up to 29%.
ADJUST THE WAY YOU USE YOUR BRAIN IN ORDER TO WORK SMARTER – NOT HARDER. It helps to sit down at the beginning of the day to see if you can arrange your tasks efficiently. Can you combine two meetings into one? Can you turn an hour-long meeting into a 30-minute meeting? Can you schedule the more challenging tasks of the day to a time when you have the greatest energy?
Conserving brain energy: With the demands you face to adapt to constant change, you might think that focus is the order of the day. However, as I point out in my book “Tinker Dabble Doodle Try,” you must build unfocus times into your day to refuel your brain and gain the energy to adapt.
One way to do this is to practice positive constructive daydreaming — scheduling 15 to 20 minutes in your day when your brain would be naturally depleted. However, you can’t just sit at your desk. Take a walk, do some gardening or try knitting. Then, imagine something positive like going apple-picking or cozying up to a good movie. Then, let your mind wander. This will boost your creativity and refresh your brain. The brain’s default mode network comes on when you stop focusing and puts puzzle pieces together, allowing you to discover new ways of becoming agile. Connecting to your psychological center of gravity (COG): Your psychological COG is your north star. It is your guiding
light when you feel lost or rushed. When you are overwhelmed by the changes you have to make, reset to your psychological COG. It’s like training your abdominal muscles. One key way to do this is to reconnect with your sense of purpose. This is not some external goal, but the activities that make you feel you are flourishing. When you do, you activate your brain’s reward system, and you get the energy edge you need to hold steady. Think of a possibility that is not yet a reality, and commit to believing that you are sufficient to deliver on promises that you have not yet delivered on. This does not require you to be sure or right every time. It’s a choice that you make to let possibility be your guide. Ask yourself, “What two things can I say ‘no’ to?” Offload things that drain you – the barely satisfying friendship, the task that you hate to do, the compromise you’re being asked to make that you don’t actually have to make. When you do, you gain the ability to do more satisfying and motivating things. When it comes to learning agility and optimizing your brain, less is more. Dr. Srini Pillay is the CEO of NeuroBusiness Group. He is also assistant professor (part-time) at Harvard Medical School and teaches in the executive education programs at Harvard Business School and Duke CE. Email Srini.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR INTERNAL CYBER THREAT
RAYTHEON PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CYBER TRAINING Perhaps more harmful than any malware is an unprepared workforce. Especially one that underestimates what today’s threats can do to your brand reputation and your business. To stay ahead of it all, you need to ready your team for anything.
© 2019 Raytheon Company. All rights reserved.
JULIE WINKLE GIULIONI
LEARNERSHIP: PREPARING EMPLOYEES FOR THE NEW LEARNING LANDSCAPE At conferences and cocktail parties alike, it’s hard to escape discussions of the challenges associated with today’s fast changing business landscape – including evolving technologies, access to information, the ever-shortening halflife of knowledge, and the rise of the gig economy. These dynamics have profound implications for organizations and their people. As a result, forward-thinking learning and development (L&D) professionals are considering how to address these dynamics and future-proof their workforces in a variety of ways. Given that the only constant is change and that the complexity and ambiguity we face today will likely persist, there’s one fundamental strategy that should be every organization’s and every individual’s priority: learnership.
LEARNERSHIP IS INTERNALLY MOTIVATED. Instilling learnership is about equipping the workforce with the skills to learn, adapt and apply evolving knowledge at the speed of change. It’s about cultivating the disciplines and cadence of continuous learning in preparation for a more productive and successful tomorrow. In many ways, learnership feels like a natural extension of school – but the sensibilities required for workplace success are profoundly different. Rather than driven by the externally imposed
pressures and direction that focused us as young students, learnership is internally motivated. It’s structured not by a teacher’s curriculum but by the individual’s unique interests. Learnership is about unlearning old ways of thinking about learning and cultivating a more self-driven relationship with the continued acquisition of knowledge, experience and growth.
• Allowing people to unplug and step away from day-to-day work.
And the way to do that is by cultivating four key qualities: curiosity, attention, experimentation and reflection. The nexus of these qualities is where learnership lives and thrives.
Cultivate experimentation by:
Curiosity creates the space that welcomes learning, and inquisitiveness leads to looking at the world through the lens of “Why?” and “What if?”. Whether applied to organizational strategy, work processes or customer needs, a curious spirit mines the mundane for learning.
Experimentation is a fundamental way of interacting with the world that recognizes the power of taking risks. Stepping into the unknown introduces the possibility for failure but also for powerful learning.
• Communicating smart failures throughout the organization. • Offering support to those who are willing to step outside their comfort zones. Reflection refers to our ability to engage in just thinking. It’s only through disciplined reflection that insights are captured, experiences are understood and learning happens.
You can help others cultivate curiosity by:
You can help others cultivate reflection by:
• Removing the barriers to asking questions at work.
• Creating pauses that build thinking time into learning experiences.
• Encouraging others to explore what really interests them.
• Prompting others to extract learning from even the most routine tasks.
Attention is all about presence and focus. When people elevate their awareness of the world around them, they’ll seize opportunities to learn. In this way, attention becomes an intention to grow.
Helping others cultivate curiosity, attention, experimentation and reflection supports the development of learnership – and enables organizations to thrive in today’s changing business landscape.
You can help others cultivate attention by:
Julie Winkle Giulioni has 25 years of experience working with organizations worldwide to improve performance through learning. Email Julie.
• Encouraging others to evaluate and eliminate distractions.
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SAM SHRIVER & MARSHALL GOLDSMITH
DEVELOPING RANGE VERSUS DEMONSTRATING AGILITY
In Hollywood, there are actors with skill sets that align with a particular type of movie and character. If they are fortunate, these actors are cast in pretty much the same role over and over again throughout their careers. On the opposite end, there seems to be a handful of actors in every generation that have serious range. Operationally, range can best be explained as the ability to credibly make any character, in any production, feel real. For example, consider the spectrum of roles played by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks: Meryl Streep – Sent “Postcards from the Edge”; was a devil wearing Prada; transformed herself into “The Iron Lady” and Julia Child; chronicled Sophie making a very difficult choice (and so many more!). Tom Hanks – Found himself “Sleepless in Seattle”; saved Private Ryan; spent a couple rough years as a “Cast Away”; successfully commanded Apollo 13 back to earth; became Mr. Rogers to remind us what “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” looks like (and so many more!). The range of actors like Streep and Hanks is almost universally appreciated. Based on personal experience, if they are starring in a movie, we recognize it is probably a movie worth seeing. What we don’t see – and as moviegoers may not even care about
all that much – is the dedication to the craft that actors of this caliber routinely employ. With limited variation, great actors initiate each project with a “blank sheet of paper.” They immerse themselves into every conceivable intricacy of the story being told and the character being brought to life. Predictably, the higher the quality of this immersive discovery, the higher the probability the production will be a success.
TO SURVIVE, LEADERS NEED TO LEARN NEW THINGS CONSTANTLY. From our vantage point, this is a lesson that leaders can (and should) absorb. Ongoing, diligent, immersive, fresh discovery has never been a more vital prerequisite. Change is everywhere — and impacts everything. It renders knowledge gained, experience earned and skills developed obsolete in the blink of an eye and with everincreasing regularity. It wasn’t that long ago that our industry went to great lengths to distinguish the practice of management from leadership, assigning equivalent value to each discipline: Management – What you did when you knew where you were going and what you needed to do to get there (i.e., doing things right).
Leadership – What you did when you had no idea (i.e., figuring out the right things to do). Not unlike actors cast into certain types of productions and certain types of roles, people managers were to develop skill sets that could be employed over and over again throughout their careers. Not so much anymore! Employees at every organizational level are being asked to figure things out. However, real-world leaders have no scripts to memorize or characters to research, and it isn’t so much about developing range as it is about demonstrating agility. To survive, leaders need to learn new things constantly. It is comparatively treacherous territory. More like improv with a live audience than a production set where rehearsed lines are delivered until they are perfect. This translates to exhibiting resiliency in the face of adversity and, most importantly, admitting the path being followed might well not be the right one — even if it is the most familiar. The people that can navigate these challenges are the ones that actors with serious range will portray on the silver screen some day! Marshall Goldsmith is the world authority in helping successful leaders get even better. Sam Shriver is the executive vice president at The Center for Leadership Studies. Email Marshall and Sam.
AGILE LEARNING STRATEGIES
FOR THE MODERN LEARNER BY MATT DONOVAN
Across industries, the digital disruption is reshaping the way people work, learn, connect and perform in the workplace. As Alvin Toffler said in “Future Shock,” “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” We are now seeing that expand to include those who cannot connect, re-connect and collaborate with others in order to continuously adapt.
THE EVOLVING WAY WE WORK The way we work is changing. In the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we’ve seen our workplaces and the ways we accomplish work reshaped and refashioned. Artificial intelligence (AI) plays a role as well. Not only will AI impact the way the workforce and automation work together, it has also created an increased need for emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking. This reshaping is generating a range of new jobs; these jobs require a diversity of skillsets and combine to support a new direction in the value chain. In addition, consumers are now demanding nothing less than highly personalized, excellent experiences. Research shows that roughly half of customers are dissatisfied by the companies they deal with, and it is easier than ever before for them to take their business elsewhere. With peer review sites and social media offering unhappy customers a greater audience for complaints, a company’s reputation can easily be damaged. To satisfy this, employees will need to continuously adapt their skills, combining them in new ways to meet work demands. As learners, employees will need to have the right mix of skills to keep pace with ever-evolving job roles and supporting technology – and it is crucial that organizations support their employees in this endeavour. Although organizations need to prepare employees for the new world
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MAGAZ INE -AGILE LEARNING 2020 I W W W .T RAI NI NGI NDU S T RY .C OM/ MAGAZI NE
of work, the employees themselves must take accountability for their learning experience. As a partnership, the organization and the learner need to prepare themselves not only for a continuous, agile learning environment but one that is connected as well. To deliver the workforce of the future, organizations need to adopt and implement a holistic system in which both learners and organizations can thrive. Building the workforce for the evolved workplace is not just about supporting learners in acquiring or sharpening technical skills.
THE EVOLVING ENVIRONMENT So, the workplace is also changing. The environment is shifting in a few different dimensions. Roles are becoming less structured and predefined, becoming roles of continuous evolution and change as technology emerges. Now, employees will find that their needs won’t be met solely by the organization; they will have to take ownership for their learning journey. The environment is becoming more layered with regards to both technical elements and peer relations, moving from a simpler environment to a complex, multi-dimensional learning path. The technology landscape is increasingly complex and will be a driver for the learner to continuously adapt to and own their learning experience. Just a few of the technology layers that will affect both what and how learners learn:
third-party intermediaries. This will allow systems to become more transparent, traceable and secure. With this availability to relevant, accessible and real-time data, learners will need to be able to access, analyze, gain insights from and apply those to complex business challenges. • Mixed reality and immersive digital experiences can simulate the real world and provide real-time collaborative interactions in the moment and at a distance. Learners will need to collaborate, connect and positively interact in both virtual and layered environments – all of which bring a new context to emotional intelligence.
— the online workflow and alerts — and by the human, who showed emotional intelligence, problem solving and was able to quickly pull information throughout the system. The human’s role has changed in the value chain and will continue to evolve and shift over time as technology improves. The mortgage process changes, and customers’ needs morph. In his learning journey, Alex will need to take ownership for that journey. The following is an approach that will enable Alex to remain relevant and agile.
SEEING IT IN ACTION I recently refinanced my mortgage, and the experience was markedly different from the first time. The last time I applied for the mortgage, I was required to collect a good deal of financial documentation, bring it into the lender’s office and work through the process with them. This time, I was able to complete the process online; the lender had an online workflow tool which helped me finalize my credit rating, determine which updated financial documents I needed and notified me when documents required my signature. Most importantly, I had what I call a mortgage process coach, who we will call “Alex.”
BUILDING THE WORKFORCE FOR THE EVOLVED WORKPLACE IS NOT JUST ABOUT SUPPORTING LEARNERS IN SHARPENING TECHNICAL SKILLS.
• Artificial intelligence (AI) drives systems that are able to recognize complex patterns, process information and make recommendations. AI integration will push humans deeper into the value chain. Learners will need new skills to be able to work with these systems to seamlessly connect with peers, customers and teammates.
Alex was available throughout my mortgage refinancing. I could call him at any point in the process; the street went both ways, and he would check in on me as well. What’s key here is that Alex’s role has changed substantially from the last time I completed a mortgage. In the past, the human – that is, Alex – was focused on collecting documents and signatures. In the present, Alex was moved up the value chain where he supported me in my specific needs, those which required more complex problem solving and human touch.
2| Expanding and address new learning roles.
• Blockchain is a transparent way of recording and sharing data without
From the consumer end, I found that I was supported by both the technology
3| Crafting a learning and performance network.
A THREE-PART AGILE LEARNING STRATEGY FOR THE MODERN LEARNER To support Alex — and Alexes the world over — employ a three-part agile learning strategy for the modern learner that includes the following: 1| Supporting a range of learning needs.
SUPPORTING A RANGE OF LEARNING NEEDS The learning plan accounts for a range of moments of need, from the first time the learner embarks on the learning journey to when he or she applies a new skill or something goes wrong. The critical consideration here is that the sources for learning will change based on the moment of learning need. The goal here is to proactively identify those sources including content, expert networks, peers and coaches that can help you as your learning needs evolve. Action: Employees network to:
• Identify sources of content across the moments of need. • Identify and join communities that support across each of the moments of need. • Continuously update and evolve your relationships and sources.
EXPANDED LEARNING ROLES The learner will need to expand the role from learning consumer to collaborator, creator, moderator, curator and mentor. Traditionally, learners have consumed learning that the organization provides.
As we move to the learner driven plan, learners will need to expand the roles they play. Action: Actively engage in your learning network by: • Moderating relevant conversations that meet an emerging challenge – shared among other learners.
People,” a successful network presents five benefits: • Producing innovative solutions. • Executing work efficiently. • Revealing and energizing hidden potential. • Yielding purpose and well-being.
• Curating insights and solutions that can be used by other learners or expanded and shared in return.
• Transitioning into new roles and learning or adapting through experiences.
• Collaborate on solving a challenge by resolving an issue with peers that are experiencing similar problems.
This is where micro-coaching and micromentoring come into play. Essentially these are the core conversations that further needs for the learners. Each person you add to or connect with in your network should be able to collaborate to achieve one of these needs. These interactions can also be wrapped around moments of need.
• Offer and ask for micro-coaching opportunities – feedback and mentoring around a specific activity or task.
CREATE A FOUNDATION FOR AGILE COACHING AND MENTORING
Actions: In addition to enhanced personal networks, learners need to build by:
To support the learner throughout the experience, the learner will need a network of support including coaches and mentors that can help through the journey.
• Mapping individuals to needs.
According to Rob Cross in “The Invisible Network Strategies of Successful
• Planning for mentoring.
• Starting and stopping the engagement as appropriate.
LEARNERS NEED TO TAKE A PROACTIVE, MODERN APPROACH TO CREATING THEIR OWN LEARNING CRITERIA.
As the work changes and the points of value change for humans, individual learners need to take a proactive, modern approach to creating their own learning criteria. The reshaping of the workforce is generating a range of new jobs. The key will be to curate a workforce that is enabled, empowered and equipped to make the transition. Matt Donovan is the vice president of digital learning strategies and solutions at GP Strategies. He has more than 22 years of experience crafting training and development solutions, with a focus on learner and performance-driven learning. Email Matt.
“Interaction” is an industry buzzword both course developers and learners crave in the modern online learning environment. Today’s instructional designers must learn how to navigate the rise of the hyperactive e-learner, namely, the incoming (or existing) employees who power-click through content for completion, not retention. Overcoming this obstacle begins first by understanding the motivation behind power-clicking, and then applying this knowledge to course design.
WHAT FEEDS THIS MINDSET?
The motivation behind power-clicking stems from the belief that achieving a check mark for completion, as quickly as possible, will result in more time to do what is meaningful.
Several components play a role in influencing this behavior pattern, including today’s culture that values instant gratification, speed and accessibility of technology, and the average human attention span.
Despite good intentions and trending design efforts, if a user displays this behavior, he/she either a) does not perceive the course to be meaningful, or b) perceives something else to be of greater value at that given point in time.
However, the most significant factor at play often remains overlooked: how an individual’s past learning experiences have impacted his or her attitude toward adult learning. After all, experience drives expectation.
In relation to employee learning, the majority of these expectations are derived from college and university courses. Understanding the online learning environment in higher education is crucial to successfully creating content that eliminates stereotypes at the corporate level.
THE ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION Traditionally, online college courses include elements of instructional videos, corresponding PowerPoint slides in a PDF format, and standard open or closed-note exams. Interaction is measured through group discussion boards, where posting a reply to a fellow classmate is required. Grades for written course components are typically given for effort, and monitoring online exams is virtually impossible. Often, searching for the answer to a quiz question on Google produces the entire answer key, enabling the learner to quickly — and effectively — achieve a passing grade. Is this cheating or mere resourcefulness? Some college students would suggest the latter. These past experiences serve as a precursor to assumptions employees make about future online learning.
WHERE DOES EXISTING E-LEARNING MISS THE MARK? Given what we know about the motivation behind power-clicking, it’s safe to say that learners search for what is meaningful. Without this knowledge, the corporate e-learning industry tends to approach the behavior of power-clicking from a narrowed view, focusing instead on incorporating new technology to solve a perceived attention span deficit.
The following statistics compelling argument:
• According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds. • A large scale study by MIT found that the optimal video length is under six minutes. • Advertisers lose 33% of their video audience within 30 seconds; 45% within one minute; and 60% within two minutes. Adapting online learning to meet specific time constraints seems like the logical solution if (mistakenly) maintaining a learner’s attention is the end goal. Evolving industry trends such as gamification, microlearning and virtual reality offer ample opportunity for user interaction. Though these trends provide revolutionary and necessary advancements within the learning industry, technology often creates a mindset that attention is linked to interaction. The thought process follows: If a user engages with the material, he or she is paying attention, and if the user is paying attention, learning objectives are more readily achieved.
of this course, the learner will be able to list three ways product x differs from product y”). Attention falls into this same category. Outright, clicking for completion is a learned behavior. Experienced e-learners, regardless of age, know they don’t have to pay attention to pass a course, or even to accomplish a larger goal such as obtaining a degree. The inability to quantify attention and, thus, link it to interaction or engagement, can be shown by examining the optimal video length of six minutes and applying it to several experiences: • Have you made a work-related call and spoke to someone longer than six minutes? • Have you recently watched a movie that was over six minutes and not checked your phone or talked to the person next to you? • Have you had dinner with someone and engaged in conversation longer than six minutes? • Have you read a story to your child or tried a new bedtime routine that lasted longer than six minutes?
However, there is a distinct flaw in this equation. While virtual engagement can be tracked by number of “clicks,” slide-views or expected duration, attention is not a measurable outcome and, therefore, cannot accurately track learning.
These questions might be tricky to answer, but if you think about even one instance where you surpassed this expected timeframe, it is evident that attention has nothing to do with counting minutes or, according to Microsoft, seconds.
WHY IS ATTENTION NOT A MEASURABLE OUTCOME?
Moreover, our brains are not hardwired to countdown this specific timeframe, sound an alarm, and go, “Well, that’s it! Move on!”
Measurable learning objectives exist to quantify the amount of information a learner has obtained from instruction. Learning goals such as “to know” or “to understand” are impossible to measure on their own, but pair them with an action verb and you can accurately achieve desired results (i.e., “At the conclusion
While it is important to keep up with new technology and teaching strategies, applying this new perspective on a professional level can ultimately help us conclude that directly providing meaning and purpose supersedes the way in which information is delivered (i.e., storytelling, gamification, AR/VR).
APPLYING THIS KNOWLEDGE TO CORPORATE TRAINING When approaching corporate learning, employees know the value of time, particularly their free time. The average employee spends approximately 1% of the work week engaging in training and development. This means that the majority of assigned courses must be completed outside of standard office hours. Monetizing free time can now be calculated by participation and demand for new time-saving services such as curbside pick-up, meal-kit subscriptions and even grocery delivery. Willingness to pay a premium price in order to save time for what is meaningful runs parallel to the motivation of the hyperactive e-learner. From the learner’s perspective, several questions come to mind when approaching an online training: How will this course help me, today, to earn more money or advance my career? Will this information help me tomorrow, or is this technique simply a fad? Can I get this information from another source? How does my success depend on learning this material? If these questions are not appropriately answered, new technology and interaction unintentionally create a burden to the user. Establishing purpose, direction and value can take top trends in technology to the next level and regain user excitement toward e-learning.
without fail, raises a hand and asks, “When am I ever going to need to know this?” For adolescents, the answer to the “why” question is typically, “because I said so” or, “because you have to.”
THE MOTIVATION BEHIND POWERCLICKING STEMS FROM THE BELIEF THAT ACHIEVING A CHECKMARK FOR COMPLETION WILL RESULT IN MORE TIME TO DO WHAT IS MEANINGFUL. How often is this attitude taken with adults (“because it’s your job”)? For instructional designers, specifically and directly answering this question is the key to overcoming the hyperactive e-learner.
OVERCOMING THE HYPERACTIVE E-LEARNER
The challenge now exists to change the game for adult learning. Pre-emptively stating the purpose at the start of every course, even if it seems obvious, is the best way to create immediate impact. This goes beyond merely alluding to the “why” in learning objectives. Although learning objectives show purpose on an administrative and/or managerial level, they are rarely read by the learner.
For a simple solution, visualize a middle school math class. Specifically, visualize the one student who, in every class,
If a course is not relevant in the immediate future to an employee, consider making it optional versus
mandatory. This gives control back to the learner by allowing him or her to choose a course based on personal value, elevating willing participation in the course. The second step in overcoming the hyperactive e-learning is to link the assessment to a real, applicable task an employee does on a daily or weekly basis. Exams, whether formal or informal, measure the level in which an individual comprehends information. Providing opportunity to practice a newly learned skill or apply newly acquired knowledge further solidifies the meaning and purpose provided at the beginning of restructured courses. Minimizing power-clicking is about creating meaning, rather than striving for engagement, and aligning that meaning with learners’ current job roles. To expedite course development, keep these three questions in the forefront of your mind: 1. What do I want my learner to know? 2. How do I want my learner to apply it? 3. Why does this matter (i.e., what immediate impact can the learning have on learners’ success)? “Quality over quantity” holds true when developing or evaluating existing e-learning libraries. And, as the value of time has exponentially increased, the power of the “why” has never been more important to the success of both corporate and adult learning. Marie McIntyre is a training and development specialist for MAC Distributor Network, an organization of independent distributors and manufacturers with the common focus on customer service and global support. Email Marie.
Cutting through the Clutter HOW TO CURATE CONTENT TO DRIVE HIGH-IMPACT COURSES BY RACHEL ELFENBEIN
Instead of focusing on what content needs to be cut, try brainstorming ways to make the existing content more efficient. Imagine that you’ve been tasked with creating a six-hour online learning experience for employees. You head to the first meeting excited. You take a deep breath before entering the room and think, “Mmm, the smell of a new project!” Ten minutes later, you’re staring at a SharePoint folder with over 200 items in it, all of which your client wants included in the training that isn’t supposed to exceed six hours. Before you sputter out, “Wait … what?” you stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What should I do?”
For the project to succeed, you know you’ll have to help your client make some tough choices to cull the content to a more reasonable size. It’s not easy, especially when your client(s) may very well be the author(s) of the very content that needs to be cut. What should you tell them … that their content doesn’t spark joy? You think to yourself, “There’s no way this is going to end well.” Although situations such as these may seem daunting to the learning leader, knowing what questions to ask — before you begin a project — will ensure the training is palatable for stakeholders and a valuable experience for learners. Instead of focusing on what content needs to be cut, try brainstorming ways to make the existing content more efficient. By efficient, I mean content that will have the highest impact on your learners and, ultimately, the business. Ask yourself — and your stakeholders — these five basic, but essential, questions to determine what type of content your learning initiatives need to succeed:
Is the content directly relevant to the goals of the business, the learning initiative and, most importantly, the learner?
If the content is not relevant to all three of these goals, toss it! Beware of content masquerading as relevant. If a piece of content is described as a “supporting document,” it isn’t relevant. Toss it. If a piece of content is one of those “meta” learning items that talks about how important the training is, or tries to justify it in any way, toss it! In fact, toss everything that isn’t relevant to learners in their current job role. In contrast, if there is a two-minute video featuring the division’s vice president talking about the learning experience and asking for learner buy-in, keep it!
Which learning objectives are better served by learner collaboration, feedback and real-world application?
Intrepid recently asked learners what they wanted from L&D. When asked
what types of L&D opportunities they valued most, the majority of learners said collaborative learning. Creating activities that allow learners to make a personal connection with the learning, while also doing their job and collaborating with others, is key in creating an efficient, highimpact learning experience. Further, these activities can often partially or completely replace existing content.
Do you have the connectors?
You may have 200 pieces of content neatly grouped into exquisite microlearning bits. However, if you don’t provide connections linking these bits of content together, they won’t achieve the impact you’re hoping for. In the article, “This Is Your Brain on Learning,” Britt Andreatta, former chief learning officer at Lynda. com and author of “Wired to Resist: The Brain Science of Why Change Fails and a New Model for Driving Success” is interviewed and shares that “microlearning demands even more thought about how you weave between the chunks of learning so there is a cohesive and effective journey to change learners’ knowledge, beliefs and behaviors.” My colleagues and I refer to this as “grouting” — those pieces of content that add context for the learner like grout holding together tiles. This contextual content allows the learner to come up for air and better understand the connection between various content pieces. Ultimately, without connectors, microlearning is more of a mish-mash than a modality.
Would the business goals be better served if you allowed learners to come to understand a concept through their real work life instead of just giving them a piece of content?
This is a tough question to ask. It requires you to trust your learners. It means pointing adult learners in the right direction, allowing them to draw their own conclusions. For example,
Without connectors, microlearning is more of a mish-mash than a modality. imagine a leadership class where you have covered different types of communication to help foster team cohesiveness. Instead of reinforcing the content through videos or PowerPoints designed to drill in its importance, what if you proved its importance through an on-the-job activity? Consider the following example: Now that you have learned these different communication skills, see how many of them you can use this week when interacting with your team. At the end of the week, come back and discuss what you learned and experienced. Share what happened when you used these communication skills with other members of the class. Guided activities allow learners to collaborate with others and, ultimately, see the learning’s impact on their job performance firsthand — which is far more powerful than just about any video or PowerPoint presentation.
Are the class learning objectives helping or hurting your task of editing down the content?
Learning objectives that declare what learners should know by the end of a learning experience make culling content difficult. After all, shouldn’t learners always know more? This mindset is what results in those 20 extra links and five extra documents within a learning experience. It’s important to remember that more content doesn’t necessarily mean more results. So, how can learning leaders create valuable learning experiences with
less content? It starts with assessing what business goals the training should support: What business impact do stakeholders need the training to achieve? In other words, by the end of the class, what do business stakeholders want learners to go do, change and/or feel? These objectives should be specific, not written as, “Objective: Learners will use x, y and z sales techniques,” but as, “Objective: After this class, learners will use the ‘x’ technique one hour before an initial sales call because they see it as vital to their job.” Once you specify the training’s objectives, you can then determine what content can best help learners reach them — and any obstacles they may face along the way. Ultimately, impactful learning requires more than relevant content. Learners need to be receptive to the learning, recognizing the value they will see in return for their time in the class. Ideally, this process should start before the class begins and be re-iterated throughout the learning experience. So, when asking your stakeholders key questions pertaining to the learning content, don’t forget to ask about the actual learners, too: Are they new to their jobs, the company or the subject of the training in general? If you are asking them to change, will they be receptive to the idea? Do they need to break old habits, or break through entrenched team dynamics? The answers to these questions will not only guide which content you ultimately choose to incorporate in your training initiatives, but also remain a key resource in how you make meaningful connections for learners. To design a truly effective learning experience, start by asking the questions outlined in this article. Doing so may even spark a few of your own questions related to your company’s specific goals. Armed with this information, you can enjoy that “new project smell” from start to finish. Rachel Elfenbein is the senior product manager at Intrepid by VitalSource, where she synthesizes client feedback and imagines, designs and executes platform features. Email Rachel.
SKILLS GAPS RISE as Organizations Ignore Workforce Training Preferences BY ZANE SCHWEER
When training is approved, training effectiveness is of the utmost importance.
Professionals are training in record numbers, but 79% of IT decision-makers are reporting worsening, businessimpacting skills gaps. Something is wrong. Professionals and organizations are not coordinating their training delivery format selection with how critical the skill need is to accomplishing their goals. This is a costly mistake when opportunities for success are becoming more difficult to find. As more organizations digitally transform into tech companies, the shelf life of existing skills is expiring faster than ever. Similarly, not developing new skills in your most valuable asset – your people – has significant repercussions. The tech industry is experiencing firsthand what happens when continuous people development is and is not prioritized. The effect of the skills economy is being acutely felt, and organizations with the right skills are rising to the top. The data used throughout this article is from the world’s largest global annual survey of IT staff and decision-makers — the IT Skills and Salary Report. It has uncovered troubling data that illuminates why organizational skills gaps are growing so rapidly.
THOSE WHO NEED SKILLS ARE FACING UPHILL BATTLES The realities that result from the “we’re too busy” or “we can hire our way out of it” excuses are catching up to organizations at threatening rates. Top talent is difficult to find and comes at a premium salary – with salaries the highest they’ve ever been in the 13 years of the report. Additional impacts of skills gaps include:
IT decisionmakers reporting increased stress on employees.
Those dealing with talent recruitment and retention challenges.
once? Organizations ask their employees to do a lot – especially in IT. Technology doesn’t stop, and neither do they. Fifty four percent of IT professionals said their current workloads are higher than the previous year, leaving less and less time to develop new skills to keep driving the business forward. So, when training is approved, training effectiveness is of the utmost importance.
RATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TRAINING Those that say they aren’t meeting quality objectives.
Those that suffer from increased project durations.
SKILLS GAPS COST HOW MANY HOURS A YEAR!? 60% of IT decision-makers say skills gaps cost between 3-8 hours of productivity per employee per week. In a 50 work-week year, that’s between 150-400 hours of productivity lost.
Alarmingly, the survey also revealed that only 58% of IT decision-makers have a training budget, and, of that group, only 60% authorized training in 2019. Even when they have training budgets, they’re not using them. But when we do train, are we going about it the right way?
PERCEIVED TRAINING EFFECTIVENESS VS. WHAT IS ACTUALLY BEING TAKEN Have you ever met an IT professional who wasn’t juggling a million things at
Over 11,200 IT professionals were asked to rate the effectiveness of five ways to train: an informal training session at work (peer-to-peer, ad hoc), web-based on-demand (self-paced), live instructor-led online (virtual), instructor-led classroom (out of office) and instructor-led onsite training. Instructor-led training (ILT) was the clear winner, which shouldn’t be surprising (seen in Figure 1). ILT provides real-time interaction between the learner and an expert instructor who has experience and expertise. These subject matter experts (SMEs) can cater the content specifically to their audience, create a rich and collaborative environment conducive to learning, and can see when the light bulbs do and don’t turn on in a person’s mind. On-demand is one-way, less structured and questions may linger rather than being resolved in the class.
ACTUAL TRAINING TAKEN IN THE PAST YEAR Those same professionals were then asked what formal training they took in the past year (seen in Figure 1 on page 28). Web-based, on-demand training was the most-used training method
FIGURE 1. PERCEIVED TRAINING EFFECTIVENESS COMPARED TO TRAINING SESSIONS TAKEN
Informal sessions at work
Web-based, on-demand 25%
Classroom (out of office)
Formal, onsite training
Training Session Taken
at 70%, with out-of-office classroom training in second at 42%. You might be wondering why the more effective ways to train aren’t utilized more often? Especially when 67% of IT professionals prefer formal instructorled training. Well, it’s not that simple. Let’s look at some of the reasons: • The training industry is going through its own digital transformation. In the past few years, there has been tremendous migration toward virtual and on-demand training. The technology, platforms and science to make more impactful virtual and ondemand training is accelerating. • The upfront cost savings, increased flexibility and accessibility to training enables learning to become more agile. However, a by-product of this is that all training delivery formats are being valued the same. Learning effectiveness
has been lost in the shadow of the previously aforementioned perks. What is seemingly cheaper, costs you more in the long run.
*Very to extremely effective*
and 24/7 availability. But IT professionals are saying it’s not as effective, compared to learning from an instructor in a structured learning environment, for developing the critical skills they need to do their jobs.
It’s hard for IT professionals to get away from work to train; 44% of IT workers cite work demands as the reason it’s difficult to formally train. Recall the earlier data point that of the 58% of IT decision-makers who have a training budget, only 60 percent authorized training. This demonstrates a tremendous disconnect, because 85% of IT professionals reported some level of training this past year. IT professionals don’t sit back and wait; they make things happen. They’re training with what’s available. Some are even spending their own money. Why are IT professionals having to moonlight their skills development when their organization is struggling against a skills crisis?
THE FUTURE OF HOW YOU TRAIN IS BASED ON THE CRITICALITY OF SKILL
On-demand training’s rapid rise in popularity is supported by its low cost
Every delivery format serves a specific purpose, but there isn’t much guidance on
There will always be some level of skills gap, but leaders responsible for skills development need to rethink how they manage development for their teams and organization. In concert with listening to their people, leaders need to assess, manage, and address skills gaps and needs based on the criticality and complexity of a skill set when determining how to train.
strategically selecting a delivery format. There are three factors to consider when determining how critical the skill needed is and how to select the right delivery format: priority, value and risk. The greater the criticality of a skill, the greater the need is for structure in the following areas: • • • • • •
Learning plan Measurement and governance Training delivery Learning accountability Robustness of format Scalability and repeatability
Each factor is then indexed relative to the organizational value. This is further outlined and explained in the Skills Development Index. You’ll be able to determine when each delivery format (selfpaced and on-demand, virtual classroom, blended, or in-person classroom) is best.
THE DAYS OF “RANDOM ACTS OF TRAINING” ARE OVER Professionals, teams and organizations must be intentional with their skill needs and how they develop them. We can no longer mindlessly put people in classrooms or provide digital courses. There is a time and place for both, but before that’s decided there must be a clear expectation of what success looks like and what is needed to succeed. “Technology is changing so fast.” It’s a phrase we hear ad nauseum. Successful organizations don’t dwell on this fact. They say, “Yes, it is,” and move with intention in investing in the people responsible for driving the business and their tech forward. To further increase the chances of achieving their goals, they factor in the value, priority
and risk to the business, as well as how the learner wants to learn. Organizations are constantly balancing between supporting business requirements and serving the learners’ needs. We can’t forget that this is all about the people. People are your organization’s future. When people must fend for themselves or express to you that the resources they’re being provided are ineffective, nobody wins. And that shiny new technology that made so many promises now causes headaches and remains underutilized. That’s the thing about technology, it’s only as powerful as the people trained to use it. Zane Schweer works at Global Knowledge, the worldwide leader in IT training and professional skills development, and leads its yearly IT Skills and Salary Survey and Report, which focuses on IT skills, certifications and professional development. Email Zane.
That’s the thing about technology, it’s only as powerful as the people trained to use it.
PRIORITY Relative to organizational objectives and initiatives.
Relative to improvement of business performance.
Relative to business continuity and goal achievement.
CREATING A LEARNING STRATEGY FOR CHANGE
USING THE SKILLS OF IMPROVISATION BY KRISTY WEST
Change is a constant in today’s everevolving, tech-driven and complex organizational landscape. A simple Google search will turn up over 10 million articles on the issue. But while there is no shortage of content, insights and best practices, the dialogue surrounding change and change management is beginning to sound like a lot of talk and not a lot of action when it comes to addressing its impact on the bottom line – our workforce. The impact of change on organizations and their people has been so profound that we’ve adopted words like volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) – an acronym used by the American Military to define the state of the post-war world – to label the unpredictable work climates we find ourselves in today. VUCA provides a
way for us to speak about change and the need to adapt to it. When companies design new software, build a new product or develop a new solution to take to market, they will most likely establish a learning strategy to educate and equip their people with the skills and resources they need to successfully deliver in their roles. This idea is also true for organizations integrating a new technology, software or tool. Typically, a careful strategy for learning is implemented to ensure people understand how to use it effectively. Afterall, you wouldn’t just throw it out there and expect people to learn on their own. If we respond to new products and processes with training and practice, why isn’t the same true for organizational development patterns
and trends – like change? It’s new, different and uncomfortable until we are confident that we have the necessary skills to navigate it. It is time we address change in the same way we do anytime we integrate a new protocol or technology. We cannot expect people to seamlessly develop and exhibit new behaviors and attitudes when navigating the VUCA environments in which they find themselves. Practicing how to respond to uncertainty and adapt to change in the moment are not skills most corporate environments are working to hone in their employees. Not because they don’t recognize the need, but because there aren’t many programs or methodologies that allow people to simulate scenarios where VUCA conditions exist and provide a way to practice resilience and adaptability.
THE NEW NORMAL
Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous Improvisation – the art of working without a script, adapting in the moment and building something out of nothing – is a novel way to tap into and develop skills such as adaptability and resilience. The field of applied improvisation is a growing industry that is changing the way people lead, create and navigate change. The kind of change that organizations are faced with today is something of a challenge we have not faced before. It is new, uncomfortable, intimidating and, much like adopting a new customer relationship management (CRM) platform, should be integrated in a thoughtful and intentional way. Using applied improv as an experiential learning methodology aligned with the pillars of VUCA enables learners to practice applying improvisational techniques and tools to shift their behaviors and attitudes in the moment.
Here’s how experiential learning and applied improv addresses the VUCA climate we are dealing with in today’s workplace.
VOLATILITY Volatility is the quality of being subject to frequent, rapid and significant change. We know that change is constant, fast and difficult. What can we do to condition ourselves to better handle volatile environments? Improvisation subjects you to frequent, rapid change in a real-time, low stakes environment where all participants are after the same objective, supporting one another and encouraging vulnerability. Improvisational exercises simulate the rapid change people need to familiarize themselves with.
Designing experiences where learners can experience change over and over begins to tone the adaptability and resilience muscles.
Improvisation conditions you to move forward with only what you know and have in that moment. UNCERTAINTY Uncertainty is a component of any situation in which events and outcomes are unpredictable. Who enjoys not knowing what is going to happen next? Maybe in life, uncertainty presents
exciting and spontaneous possibilities – but not so much in business. It is the unknown in any situation that can paralyze us. Improvisation conditions you to move forward with only what you know and have in that moment and not let fear of the unknown keep you from moving forward. Toning the muscles of resilience and bouncing back from unforeseen outcomes can help individuals deal with uncertainty. It’s about getting comfortable with not knowing what is going to happen next.
COMPLEXITY Complexity involves a multiplicity of issues and factors, some of which may be intricately interconnected. Ever felt like, if one more unexpected thing hits you out of nowhere, you will lose it? There are so many things coming at you at once in the workplace, moving parts you cannot control and complex issues to deal with. The ability to navigate the complexities and interact with chaos will come in handy.
Improvisation by nature invites chaos and begs you to weave unrelated pieces together with ease and accept all offers thrown at you and treat them as opportunities – even if you don’t understand where they fit. Improv grants participants the ability to take everything offered to them in the moment and not worry about the limitations but instead consider the possibilities.
Improvisation teaches people that they are enough. They have everything they need to work off-script and respond appropriately and effectively in the moment. Sometimes you fail; sometimes you knock it out of the park. You are okay though because the risk is worth it, and you have two choices: Do something or do nothing. When there is no plan, you learn to lean in and get out of your head.
The time is now to recognize that change is the new normal and is not going away – only increasing in speed and magnitude. Let’s put it in the light it deserves, and give people the tools they need to navigate it effectively. If your organization or clients have not considered a learning strategy for managing change, it may be time for a change.
Ambiguity is characterized by a lack of clarity and difficulty understanding exactly the situation at hand. Business loves its structures, processes and planning. What happens when plans change? We need to rise to the challenge of ambiguity and learn to respond with resilience and adaptability.
Kristy West is an applied improv facilitator, learning experience designer and founder of BraveSpace. She blends her unique experience in improvisational comedy, corporate sales and training to help teams tap into interpersonal communication skills through improvisational based learning and play. Email Kristy.
The time is now to recognize that change is the new normal and is not going away.
SAMPLE IMPROV EXERCISE: CLAP POINT NAME This exercise demonstrates how quickly our brain develops patterns and how even minor changes in patterns can feel disruptive. This explains the power of habit and how games that purposely disrupt patterns increases mental agility and psychological adaptability. These are essential for improv, but even more critical to navigating change that we do not see coming. First round: A group forms a circle. The facilitator claps for one beat, points to a person in the circle then says the person’s name on the third beat. That person then repeats this pattern. The group repeats this for a few rounds. Second round: The facilitator claps, points to a person in the circle and then says someone else's name (not the person they pointed to). The person named then claps, points to a person in the circle and says someone else's name. Group repeats this for a few rounds. Third round: The facilitator claps, points to a person and names someone else in the circle. The person standing to the right of the person named goes next. The group repeats pattern for a few rounds. Debrief: There will be plenty of starts and stops with opportunities for participants to support each other and discuss what makes the jolts difficult and how we respond to frequent, constant change.
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“CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT IN LIFE.” HERACLITUS
oday’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – also referred to as VUCA – environment is accelerating at a pace that threatens to overwhelm. However, according to the 2019 Change Lab Workplace Survey, it is the quality of change leadership, rather than the quantity of change, that drains or sustains. In the face of fluctuating regulations, disruptive competitors and emergent client requirements, learning professionals and people leaders can employ five strategies to build resilience.
THE RESILIENCE REMEDY Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of threat, adversity or significant stress. A critical survival element to assimilate to ongoing change, resilience allows oneself to bounce back after hardship.
STEWARD YOUR MIND AND EMOTIONS Change is a journey to a place you and your peers have never been before. This is risky business. Rather than moving straight from current state to goal state, the path of change curves with emotional dips, including fear and anger, as employees leave the status quo behind for the great unknown. People often take change personally. Fueling this emotional dip, per the NeuroLeadership Institute, is a sense of social threat — fear of how the change
will impact oneself and their interactions with others. Without a growth mindset, new and uncharted paths increase that sense of threat. The growth mindset, characterized by Dr. Carol Dweck as a bent toward true learning, includes a willingness to embrace challenge and persist through adversity – qualities essential for successfully navigating change. As you travel through the change curve, allow for progress rather than perfection. Individuals with growth mindsets stretch themselves, accept feedback and take the long view. An openness to hard work, risk and even the prospect of failure provide foundational aspects for cultivating change resilience. To develop a growth mindset, become aware of the personal narrative in your head. If you notice that you quickly approach on problems with fixed answers or solutions, open yourself up to alternatives. During times of challenge, speak statements that make room for growth. For example, if a new opportunity is bungled, rather than remarking, “Wow, that was really bad,” try saying, “Guess I am not there quite yet. I need more practice.” Allowing for growth relieves pressure and enables you to set appropriate expectations. Through their words and actions, leaders either communicate a sense of hope for the future or foster stress and fear. The most effective leaders of change develop their emotional intelligence in order to leverage the power of positivity as they move their people through change. Emotions are contagious, so be careful what you spread!
EXERT AGENCY BY TAKING ACTION Agency, as defined by the social sciences, is the capacity of individuals to act independently and make their own choices. Taking self-directed action, or exerting agency, can lower one’s threat meter. When experiencing change, start by asking yourself what you can control in the present situation. For example, in the case of a reorganization, you might familiarize yourself with new org charts, meet your new boss and discover their vision, recall how your personal strengths have served you through past changes, and tailor your experience to align with the new environment. Even in situations where you have little or no control, you can find actions that move you toward small wins. At the very least, determine to control your response to change by beginning with your attitude. Do you need to come to terms with the change by practicing acceptance? Aim to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Comfortable is nice, but it’s not a necessity.
EMOTIONS ARE CONTAGIOUS, SO BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SPREAD! As a learning leader, help employees exert their agency by giving them opportunities to weigh in on strategies for managing the change at hand. Give team members options when possible, and invite them to think creatively and take ownership of the change journey.
CLARIFY THE WHY AND CREATE A WAY Understanding the why behind a change helps secure a sense of purpose and set a shared strategy. It is important to know the organizational rationale for change and be able to share it with your team. On a personal level, discover how the organizational why aligns with your personal why — your vision, values and purpose. This enables you to honor yourself and your principles in a world of change. Beyond why, you need a way. The way is not a detailed how-to but a broad overview of where you are heading and how you plan to get there. The Heath brothers call this a “destination postcard.” You don’t need to know all the turns, but you do need to know you are going to California – not New York or Chicago. As a learning leader, this means identifying the most important actions while leaving room to work through the details later. Having a sense of where you are going and why you are moving in that direction combats concerns that escalate change fatigue.
By way of illustration, as part of a global training project sponsored by the Department of State, a group of international government and nongovernmental organization (NGO) leaders from a developing country worked together with experts in the U.S. to expand their understanding of governance, transparency and citizen participation. The intent was that, upon their return home, these leaders would further develop these capacities in their country. Trust between government and the new NGO entity was fledgling, so they began to identify the rationale for working together that made sense to both groups, illustrating the value of NGO work and the benefit of government partnership. The U.S. team provided guiding principles like collaboration, minimal force, and checks and balances. Then they identified some critical actions to get them on their way. With access to local programs, the global leaders saw firsthand how police, the legal system and nonprofits collaborate to address issues such as domestic violence. A year after the project, the team learned that a training program for an entire division of their federal police
force was rewritten to implement these principles in the participants’ home country. This solution could not have been prescribed initially. By clarifying the why and creating a way that provided a general direction and identified critical moves, the international leaders could do the rest.
TO FOSTER CHANGE RESILIENCE, CREATE A SPACE WHERE IT IS SAFE TO VOICE OPINIONS, SHARE IDEAS AND MAKE MISTAKES. COACH BY LEANING IN Reframe resistance. Resistance – the refusal to accept or comply with someone or something — is normal, and it is not necessarily negative. It indicates that people need more time, information or support to process the change. That’s where your role as coach comes in. Rather than trying to avoid or squelch resistance, leaders who foster change resilience lean in and investigate the reasons for resistance. Consider your reaction when a team member expresses uncertainty or a lack of support to change. Are you quick to defend, or do you explore their reluctance? Often, what looks like resistance is an expression of concern rising from their commitment. In order to coach your team through
the change, you must first understand where they are coming from.
Ask more questions, and make fewer statements. Have transparent, oneon-one conversations. Be curious, and adopt an attitude of openness – contributing to a sense of equity. As The Change Lab recommends, ask employees about their best experiences with the change at hand, collect their ideas of what success looks like and gather suggestions on how this might be actualized.
The speed of change continues to accelerate, but it is the quality of change leadership that drains or sustains. By employing these five strategies, L&D teams and people leaders can foster the ability to bounce back from change quickly, implement change readily and sustain ongoing resilience continually.
CREATE A CULTURE OF CARING Finally, and perhaps most importantly, create a culture of caring. What is the biggest drain on resilience at work? A Harvard Business Review article reported that 75% of the British employees surveyed feel the biggest workplace drain is not the speed of change but managing difficult workplace relationships and politics. Similarly, research by Dr. Rebecca Erickson demonstrates that the emotional context of the workplace correlates with burnout. Employees working in environments with low trust and high levels of agitation, frustration and futility report stress levels and burnout rates nearly three times higher than employees who work in positive emotional environments. Positive, stable emotional work environments serve as an inoculation against burnout caused by workplace stress. To foster change resilience, create a space where it is safe to voice opinions, share ideas and make mistakes. Practically speaking, one of the most powerful things you can do for your team is create personal connections and a psychologically safe work environment. A culture of caring that says, “We are in this together,” strengthens change resilience in yourself and among others. Ask the magic question: “What do you need and how can I help?” Become intentional about investing in relationships with your co-workers.
TAKEAWAYS As you lead change, remember:
• I t is the quality of change
leadership, rather than the quantity of change, that drains or sustains.
• Emotional dips in the change
curve are fueled by a sense of social threat – fear of how we will be impacted. Exerting agency lowers one’s threat meter.
• Understanding the why
behind organizational change helps secure a sense of purpose and set a shared strategy.
• Resistance indicates that
people need more time, information or support to process the change.
• Positive emotional
environments serve as an inoculation against burnout.
Leadership coach and Prosci-certified change management consultant with Avaap (formerly Navigator Management Partners), Noelle Akins brings 20+ years of real-world training and change management experience in healthcare, non-profit, higher ed, manufacturing, and research and development. Email Noelle.
Talk is cheap. Communication is everything. Language training can help reduce barriers and increase employee collaboration. Does your business need language training? Check out the 9 warning signs at: www.rosettastone.com/business/9-warning-signs
ÂŠ2019 Rosetta Stone Ltd. All rights reserved.
WORKFLOW-ENABLED LEARNING: MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE MODERN LEARNER BY ELIZABETH MARTIN
Professional training no longer requires taking employees away from their work, thanks to an innovative new approach: workflow-enabled learning. At the most basic level, workflow-enabled learning is a training strategy that empowers your team by incorporating learning into their daily workflow with convenient and intuitive online tools that help them address job challenges in real time. The result is greatly expedited task completion. Eisha Armstrong, partner and co-founder of Vecteris, and Tracy Cyr, senior vice president of learning at Ariel, have extensive experience with workflowenabled learning. Here’s a few of their thoughts about this new approach:
EISHA: Workflow-enabled learning is just-in-time learning employers provide that takes place in the flow of people’s day-to-day jobs. It puts relevant and easily understood information in front of employees in different modalities at the exact moment they need it to complete a task. The information is typically delivered in a short video and/ or written format in order to appeal to the different ways people learn and [today’s employees’] ever-shorter attention spans. TRACY: To add to your great description Eisha, I think workflow-enabled learning’s power lies in its ability to enable employees to instantly pull information to themselves regarding tasks they need to complete, when they need it. They are in the driver’s seat regarding their learning, which research shows makes them more likely to retain information. EISHA: I believe workflow-enabled learning is a tremendous game-changer for businesses for a variety of reasons. One of the challenges I regularly see employers having is their employees turning to the internet to find information they need to complete a task at work. In this situation, employers cannot ensure that the content employees are using is high-quality, which can result in things being done incorrectly. In addition, employees have to spend a lot of time sifting through material that isn’t relevant
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MAGAZ INE -AGILE LEARNING 2020 I W W W .T RAI NI NGI NDU S T RY .C OM/ MAGAZI NE
to find what they are looking for — time they could have been using to complete [other] tasks instead. Workflow-enabled learning enables employers to ensure that the information employees need to do their work can be instantly accessed, is tailored to the job they must do, is in an easily consumable format, is delivered within a consistent framework and is in the brand[’s] voice. It provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect the brand well and is a competitive differentiator. In addition, workflowenabled learning tends to be more social. People can go on to a discussion board or crowdsource from a network.
WORKFLOW-ENABLED LEARNING ELIMINATES THE TIME AND COST OF SOMEONE HAVING TO GO LEARN SOMETHING OFF-SITE.
TRACY: I totally agree. In addition, workflow-enabled learning provides individualized support directly to whomever needs it. It appeals to everyone who is used to instant access to information. Adults also tend to retain relevant information better when it is presented to them in a short and engaging format. As Eisha mentioned earlier, the collaboration piece is very important. People can share information via Slack, Yammer or team chat lines. EISHA: Also, workflow-enabled learning focuses on giving employees a competency [when] they need to immediately address a real-time task, whereas traditional training focuses on teaching employees a competency or
group of competencies they will be able to use to advance in their careers.
TRACY: Yes. Traditional training also takes employees out of their seats and requires a dedicated time frame to be set aside. With workflow-enabled learning, however, targeted learning that helps employees to address a task in real time is delivered to them at their desk. EISHA: I feel the incredibly fast pace of change in corporate America is the driving force behind workflow-enabled learning. Something you learned in a classroom 12 months ago may become quickly outdated. Workflowenabled learning keeps pace with changes since content can be easily updated. Resources can be delivered to employees when they need them without their even searching for it using the power of AI, which uses data that employees used recently, data they are collecting about a certain topic, etc., to determine what information they need. TRACY: In addition to having to keep pace with change, peak performance in less time is the goal of many companies. Workflow-enabled learning eliminates the time and cost of someone having to go learn something off-site, whether in a classroom or conference room. It is designed to increase efficiency around work people are doing. Most people would rather be doing their work than sitting in a class. EISHA: Perhaps the best way to get a feel for how transformative workflowenabled learning can be is to understand how it can be implemented. Imagine how much better reviews by managers would be if they were provided with checklists, videos and the opportunity to practice delivering the reviews prior to conducting them; or how much more effective sales teams would be if they were sent a sales preparation list prior to pitching [to] a client. TRACY: Yes, and imagine if someone was given an hour to prepare a quick update on the status of next steps for a project, and they could access a checklist for how to sum it up in 15 minutes; or
if they came across a process they were unfamiliar with, that they could immediately find information about it and move forward with completing their task. The ability of workflow-enabled learning to drive efficacy and superior performance is unlimited.
EISHA: For companies thinking of implementing a workflow-enabled learning program, my advice is to start small and to expand and improve upon the program over time. The first step is to catalog the tasks teams need the most help with. It’s a good idea to get input from employees in order to determine what tasks to focus on. I recommend putting together a group of networks consisting of people you want to use your workflow-enabled learning and having them be part of the development process. I also suggest investing in the back-end and outsourcing the content creation to recognized experts. For example, if you wanted content around how to use stories to sell or how to write a powerful speech, you’d outsource the content to a highly regarded communications training company. TRACY: I agree. From what I’ve observed, I’d add that prioritizing areas where consistency and high-quality [content] is needed is key when it comes to implementing a workflow-enabled learning program. Imagine everyone writing in your brand’s voice, everyone using the same sales method, everyone presenting in the same impactful way. It can happen with effective workflowenabled learning. Once your workflowenabled learning program is ready, I suggest having a targeted group of high potentials be the initial users since others will follow their lead. EISHA: Workflow-enabled learning, in general, has so many benefits. However, when it comes to traditional training versus workflow-enabled learning, I feel that traditional training is more effective for addressing any lack in competencies and behavior. It provides employees with real-time feedback regarding what is working and what isn’t, as well as with a framework to apply their training in their day-to-day work environments. In addition, bonding
among team members often takes place during traditional training because they stretched and struggled together while learning essential skills.
TRACY: I agree with Eisha. I also feel that in-person training provides the ideal opportunity to practice new and softer leadership skills in a safe environment. In addition, it provides an opportunity to build trust with other participants who can support each other’s growth and a change of habits. When it comes to sustaining the development process and bonding that Eisha referenced, which is a key factor in the effectiveness of this social learning approach, one-on-one or small group coaching is ideal. There is a greater commitment and accountability with peer support.
A CONSTANTLY IMPROVING WORKFORCE GIVES YOUR COMPANY A STRONG COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.
The Future of WorkflowEnabled Learning There is no doubt that workflow-enabled learning will increasingly become an
7 BENEFITS OF WORKFLOWENABLED LEARNING
integral part of many companies. In fact, Towards Maturity research found that 78% of workers use technology to network and learn from each other, 57% of workers want to learn at the moment of need and 94% of workers prefer to learn at their own pace.
Meeting the needs of modern learners with workflow-enabled learners has many benefits. For example:
How Workflow-Enabled Learning is Delivered
1. It helps employees achieve peak performance in less time.
Workflow-enabled learning can be delivered through a single method, or through a variety of methods. However, each delivery method’s objective is the same: To create a manageable, accessible and intuitive learning environment that enables employees to complete tasks quickly and accurately. The following are popular delivery methods for workflowenabled learning:
2. It gives employees immediate access to the information they need. 3. It provides individualized support. 4. It encourages collaboration. 5. It provides bite-sized, entertaining and relevant learning. 6. It helps employees better retain information. 7. It strengthens an organization’s brand voice.
• Electronic performance support systems (EPSSs): An EPSS takes employees’ input and provides them with task-specific assistance. • Knowledge bases: A knowledge base is a database of information focused on a specific industry or professional
role. Using artificial intelligence (AI), it can help employees quickly find what they need and suggest related content. EPSSs also allow learners to send comments and interact with each other. • Social collaboration platforms: Social collaboration platforms like Yammer and Slack connect groups of people who are working on the same projects.
Why Invest in WorkflowEnabled Learning? A constantly improving workforce gives your company a strong competitive advantage. With workflow-enabled learning, the learning process is so immersive and intuitive that, at times, employees may not even realize they’re learning. They will be both trained and supported in their moment of need, resulting in a happier corporate culture — and an improved bottom-line. Elizabeth Martin is the senior vice president of marketing at Ariel. Email Elizabeth.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE: TRAINING FOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EXCELLENCE THE AIRBNB WAY BY JOSEPH A. MICHELLI, PH.D., C.S.P.
If you spend much time in the C-suite, you’ve likely heard about the importance of delivering world-class customer experiences.
stakeholders to create exceptional customer experiences.
Customer experience improvement is not only a buzzword in business today, but a strategic imperative for companies seeking to differentiate their brands through impactful experiences. In order to achieve customer experience excellence, training professionals are challenged to:
Airbnb is a prime example of an organization leveraging effective customer experience training for improved business results. The company was founded in 2008, when a roommate moved out of Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia’s apartment, and they were looking for a way to make rent. Knowing that a major design conference was coming to San Francisco, the pair created a rudimentary website targeted to conference attendees, offering them the opportunity to sleep on one of three air mattresses and enjoy uncooked pop tarts and orange juice.
• Help team members understand the optimal brand experience. • Provide tools excellence.
• Ensure team members are capable of innovating continual customer experience improvements. While these challenges may seem daunting, many companies are effectively training and aligning their
From their humble beginnings, Chesky and Gebbia partnered with a friend, Nathan Blecharcyzk, to streamline their web platform. Just over a decade later, estimates of Airbnb’s valuation
range from $31 billion to $38 billion, and its website features more than seven million listings across more than 100,000 cities in over 191 countries.
“CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TRAINING IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION.”
At Airbnb, effective guest experience training is challenging due to the number and diversity of team members and hosts in need of training. Airbnb leaders rely on traditional tools, such as classroom training, learning management systems (LMSs) and mentoring to enhance alignment and learning initiatives for the company’s approximately 14,000 employees across the globe.
WHERE ANYONE CAN BELONG ANYWHERE The goal of Airbnb’s customer experience training is to help employees develop their ability to design and deliver an optimal Airbnb experience, which the company defines as creating “a world where anyone can belong anywhere.” To that end, Airbnb teaches its employees experience design skills to continually improve its web platform and support the business development needs of Airbnb hosts. Ultimately, Airbnb hosts are responsible for creating experiences where all guests feel like they belong. After the company scaled, Airbnb altered its approach to teaching hosts how to foster hospitality and belonging. Chip Conley, Airbnb’s first head of hospitality, notes, “In the early days, I did a series of road trips across the world to 26 different markets where I would literally run two-hour workshops. That travel allowed a few hundred hosts in each market to immerse themselves deeper in hospitality skills.” Later, Airbnb began delivering hosts just-in-time training based on guests’ ratings and reviews. Conley explains, “We realized we had to help hosts understand what they were missing when it came to hospitality. Often, hosts would have high ratings on most, but not all, important areas of service excellence, so we would send those hosts emails with relevant and helpful information based on opportunities in areas like responsiveness.” REGIONAL TRAINING Today, Airbnb relies on its regional team members to meet hosts’ needs when it comes to delivering hospitality and running their business. Leaders at Airbnb have also organized training and
community networking platforms, such as Airbnb Community Center and Airbnb Host Clubs.
“WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT ALL ONLINE HOST COMMUNITIES ARE
your employees deliver a differentiated customer experience. Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P., is an internationally sought-after speaker, author and organizational consultant whose insights encourage leaders and frontline workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their lives. Email Joseph.
EMPOWERED, CONNECTED, AND HAVE LOTS OF TOOLS AND INSIGHTS TO DO
• We are all hosts. Whether we Laura Chambers, general manager of home hosts, shares, “We’re deeply engaged in the Airbnb Community Center, and we want to be as helpful as possible for the leaders of other online groups. We want to ensure that all online host communities are empowered, connected, and have lots of tools and insights to do wonderful work.” She adds, “We have over a hundred people on our mobilization team that sit in a region and work with regional leads and communities on the ground. This team helps build community through Airbnb Host Clubs. We have 300 Airbnb Host Clubs, which are different based on their local passions and interests. Generally, these groups get involved … to share information like how to get more fivestar reviews …. In essence, our Airbnb community organizers partner with local hosts to equip them with online tools and in-person trainings needed to successfully lead and drive outcomes for their local host club.”
provide direct service or simply host people on our website or app, hospitality (service with heart) wins!
• Success today often involves
delivering value through technology-aided/human-powered solutions.
• A customer’s memory of a service
experience is shaped by peak, valley, transition, and end moments along their journey with a brand.
• Most customers calculate the cost
of an experience based not only on how much money they pay but also how much time and effort they must expend to receive their goods or services.
• In addition to providing products
Customer experience training is a journey, not a destination. By implementing the tips in this article, you can follow in Airbnb’s footsteps and help
and services that meet their current needs, most customers want service providers to take extra steps to anticipate their future wants, needs, and desires. Often, that anticipation requires little more than empathy, observation of customer behavior, and thoughtfulness.
ADAPTIVE LEARNING FOR THE GLOBAL ENTERPRISE BY KATIE NIELSON, PH.D.
Adaptive learning platforms have grown in popularity in recent years, both in the classroom and in the workplace. Training Industry research found that 32% of learning leaders are using adaptive learning to a moderate extent and 22% are using it to a large extent. And in the higher education context, a 2017 survey by the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) found that 92% of CAOs agreed that adaptive learning technology could improve learning outcomes. This emerging technology has the potential to upskill employees in an area that has vexed employers for decades: language learning. To be effective, both in-person and virtual language learning programs must adjust for individual learner proficiency, provide lessons in a sequence that is responsive to learners’ performance and needs, and facilitate language development in a context that is relevant and interesting to the learner. There are numerous modalities involved in mastering a language and, by improving learners’ reading, listening, speaking, grammar and vocabular skills, adaptive learning can address each and every one of them. The need to operate in a common language is critical in our increasingly globalized world of work. In a survey of global corporate executives by the
Economist Intelligence Unit, two-thirds of respondents said that “differences in language and culture make it difficult to gain a foothold in unfamiliar markets,” and almost 90% said that profits, revenue and market share improve if “crossborder communication” improved.
THE NEED TO OPERATE IN A COMMON LANGUAGE IS CRITICAL IN OUR INCREASINGLY GLOBALIZED WORLD OF WORK.
A growing number of employers have found that adaptive technology can effectively scale immersive language learning. Rather than focusing on isolated vocabulary lists and conjugations, personalized language learning tools offer contextualized examples of authentic language, unlocking the potential of employees who may have strong technical skills, but lack the language skills needed to thrive in a global organization. Now, let’s evaluate how some organizations have implemented adaptive, personalized language learning training: CHOBANI
However, three-quarters of Americans do not speak a second language. Why have companies — even the ones that have adopted other upskilling and training programs — largely avoided offering language learning to their employees? Part of the reason is that language learning seems so intractable. We have grown accustomed to outmoded pedagogical models rooted in translation and conjugation that, according to learning scientists, bear little resemblance to how we actually learn languages.
Chobani, a major yogurt manufacturer, knew that limited English proficiency would lower the productivity and performance of its immigrant and refugee employees. But it also knew that many employees could not commit to a traditional community college or English as a second language (ESL) course due to family obligations, irregular schedules, long work hours and additional responsibilities. So, in partnership with Workforce Development Institute, Chobani took a new approach with 15 of its refugee employees in upstate New York. For
six months, these employees had access to computers equipped with a personalized language learning platform while working on the production floor. Informed by Chobani materials and everyday workplace conversations, the online and mobile training resulted in higher proficiency, a more positive company culture, salary increases and, for one of the participants, a promotion.
At the beginning of the program, 61% of the group were at beginner and highbeginner proficiency levels. After eight months, 57% of the learners had already reached low-intermediate proficiency. Learners rated their satisfaction with the program at 4.5 on a five-point scale. Now, Campari is expanding the program across the company.
This self-paced, adaptive platform delivered 50,000 hours of content in addition to providing live, certified instructors available 24/7 and a sophisticated reporting tool to monitor progress and return on investment (ROI). Nearly 90% of Grundfos learners improved their English proficiency scores, and training executives have been using analytics and data to track qualitative feedback that indicates the growth of a positive learning culture.
IN TODAY’S TIGHT LABOR MARKET, LANGUAGE LEARNING PROGRAMS CAN GIVE COMPANIES THE UNIQUE ABILITY TO PROMOTE WORKERS FROM WITHIN.
In today’s tight labor market, language learning programs can give companies the unique ability to promote workers from within to fill vacant roles, surfacing new talent pools that would otherwise be out of reach. The idea that language learning is only necessary for a particular type of company is a myth. Any global company that is creative in its approach to upskilling could use language learning to drive business results and help employees develop valuable professional — and life — skills.
Campari, a multinational beverage company, took a similar approach to help employees learn the language of business. With more than 4,000 employees across the world and a global clientele, English proficiency is important for professional growth and customer relations at Campari. Campari enrolled its Brazilian employees in an eight-month pilot program to develop English skills to support their everyday job duties, participation in conferences, and communication with colleagues and clients. Learners completed a minimum of 48 self-paced activities and two live classes per month. The content was aligned with each learner’s personal and professional goals and interests, and was pulled from current events, political articles and lifestyle magazines.
GRUNDFOS Grundfos is a manufacturing company with 18,000 employees spread across 80 countries. As part of a long-term objective to build a customer-centric and collaborative culture, Grundfos and Voxy designed over 150 custom lessons for employees using company policies, onboarding documents and product specifications.
Katie Nielson, Ph.D., is an applied linguist specializing in instructed second language acquisition. As chief education officer at Voxy, she focuses on making language learning efficient, effective and fun using best-in-class technology. Email Katie.
JUNE 16-18, 2020 | RALEIGH, NC
EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! BUILDING MORE EFFECTIVE LEADERS OF CORPORATE TRAINING The 2020 Training Industry Conference & Expo (TICE) is where learning professionals come together to tackle L&D challenges and learn about emerging topics impacting the industry today. Register today to take advantage of the early bird rate and experience firsthand why TICE 2020 is the perfect size and focus for learning leaders.
STELLA LEE, PH.D.
WHAT’S NEXT IN TECH
HOW TO LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY IN BUILDING LEARNING AGILITY
As we experience continued and accelerated change in the workplace due to robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI), how can we equip ourselves to upskill and retrain with an increased sense of urgency? How can organizations prepare us today for the workplace of tomorrow? In “The Fifth Discipline,” Peter Senge stated that the only sustainable source of competitive edge is an organization’s ability to learn faster and better than its competitors. Similarly, individuals need to be responsive to the coming changes and find their place in the AI economy. We must develop learning agility. Learning agility is the ability to continually and rapidly learn, adapt and apply knowledge in new and changing situations. As learning and development (L&D) professionals, we embody learning and change, and I believe that, while technology is not the focus, it does aid us in magnifying opportunities and enriching experiences. Here are some suggestions for leveraging technology to become self-directed agile learners: Be open to new learning experiences: Openness to learning is one of the core characteristics of an agile learner. Openness means having the curiosity and the willingness to learn in new ways and to unlearn old ways. While technology is often the culprit in putting us in our own echo chambers with adaptive content catering to our personal preferences and insulating us from opposing views, we can also leverage technology to source
LEARNING AGILITY BETTER EQUIPS INDIVIDUALS TO FACE THE UNCERTAINTY OF WORK. a variety of materials across disciplines and perspectives. Look for platforms and content providers that give learners control over the algorithm that powers the content feeds. Increasingly, learning systems with adaptive learning functions are designed for user feedback and the ability to diversify content. Seek timely and constructive feedback: Agile learners take time to reflect on their own experiences. Seek feedback to support your reflections, and view it as an opportunity to learn something about yourself. There are many technologies that assist the process of self-reflection. Chatbots (in the form of a virtual coach or tutor) can ask probing questions to help you deepen your thinking process. There is even a chatbot designed to support professional reflection processes called Beau – the confessional bot. According to their project study, people gain new insights from the chatbot and are able to approach situations differently in the future. Create a knowledge co-creation and sharing environment: To learn in new ways requires one to learn from others, to brainstorm and bounce ideas, to get help and support from one’s peer groups, and to build on each other’s concepts. Online communities and information sharing platforms, such as Slack, foster collaborative
knowledge co-creation and content sharing. One research study suggests that co-creation and knowledge sharing leads to increased learner satisfaction, trust and loyalty. Co-creation encourages the crossfertilization of knowledge and is one of the hallmarks of innovation in organizations. Cultivate an experimental mindset: An agile mindset is about creative problem solving. What better way to work creatively and learn from your peers than coming together to work on issues in hackathons? Hackathons are events in which people with diverse skill sets collaboratively come up with solutions based on specific, realworld challenges – all under a tight time frame. Hackathons originated from the software development community but is much more widespread these days. There are hackathons with goals to solve problems from mitigating climate change to reimagining formal education. These events cultivate the mindset of being able to think outside the box, work with ambiguity and to iterate solutions fast. Learning agility should be part of L&D’s repertoire because it equips individuals to face the uncertainty of work. We must continue to experiment, incorporate new technologies and platforms, and find ways to scale up. Dr. Stella Lee has over 20 years of experience in consulting, planning, designing, implementing, and measuring learning initiatives. Today, her focus is on large-scale learning projects including LMS evaluation and implementation, learning analytics, and artificial intelligent applications in learning. Email Stella.
SECRETS OF SOURCING
BECOMING AN AGILE LEARNING ORGANIZATION
One of the most important responsibilities of a training manager is to ensure alignment between the training function and the needs of the business. In doing so, the organization must maintain a critical level of agility to adapt to the changing needs of the business as well as the learner. As agility becomes a more accepted business strategy, the questions of how your training organization becomes more agile continue to grow.
to lead an organization away from a traditional approach to a new process framework that focuses on speed, flexibility and ongoing improvement. Managing change should be done in an agile mindset. Effective and long-lasting improvement requires incremental changes, flexibility to adapt to missteps, and involvement from your constituents along the way.
Being an agile organization is about adopting a philosophy of speed and flexibility. Making these concepts a central part of how you design, deliver and administer learning services requires you to rethink your development process. For example, agile design has followed much of the software design industry’s practices by moving from a waterfall approach to content design, to an iterative model where content is developed and tested incrementally to increase speed and reduce errors by making them more transparent earlier in the process.
BEING AN AGILE ORGANIZATION IS ABOUT ADOPTING A PHILOSOPHY OF SPEED AND FLEXIBILITY.
Agile delivery follows a similar mindset as it involves a new way of thinking about how learners gain skills through experiential learning. Learning content must be designed in the context of how we deliver learning experiences using repetition, reinforcement, feedback and mentorship. The end goal is to help the learner gain the required skills needed for their job as fast and efficiently as possible. CHANGE MANAGEMENT A big challenge for many training leaders is change management – knowing how
Change for any organization is hard but being overly cautious and slow to react only prolongs the process. The transition should be rapid, iterative, incremental and flexible. So, how do we speed the process? How do we ensure that we are well positioned for a shift from conventional thinking around learning design and delivery to an agile approach? Here are a few ways to develop an agile mindset: • Seek out experts who specialize in agile transition. There is a growing industry of companies and consulting professionals who have experience in change management and expertise in leading organizations through change. Leverage the talent and resources of experts to increase your capacity to rapidly design and deliver new content when the project requires it.
• Ensure that you and your leadership team have the training and knowledge to understand what it means to be an agile learning organization. Managing change using an agile approach will help you to better design new processes for your future organization. • Recognize that change must be handled incrementally – not all at one time. Your training organization will not become agile in a day. It takes time to design and implement new processes. • Partner with suppliers. Consider how training suppliers can help your organization become more agile. Using content design and development companies who specialize in agile learning can help you rationalize old content, transition delivery approaches and minimize early mistakes. • Leverage new technologies. Agile organizations are excellent at leveraging technologies. Delivery tools such as adaptive platforms, content libraries and content repositories provide learners with easily accessible information to learn more effectively on the job. From where I sit, the possibilities are endless and the opportunities are great. Becoming an agile organization is challenging, but it will allow you to more effectively manage the changing needs of your business by embracing perpetual change and improvement. Doug Harward is CEO of Training Industry, Inc. and a former learning leader in the high-tech industry. Email Doug.
MICHELLE EGGLESTON SCHWARTZ
IT’S TIME TO PRIORITIZE LEARNING
It’s a new year— with proclamations of “New year, new me” and a long list of positive personal and professional resolutions. However, the reality is that most resolutions are abandoned by February, largely because the goals require too drastic of a change. To ensure success, the trick is to start small. For example, if you vow to become a morning person and want to start your day earlier, the drastic solution would be to set your alarm for the desired hour on January 1st. This requires an immediate change to your day-to-day routine – a complete shock to your system. Easing into the change is a more sustainable solution, with incremental shifts week by week until you are waking up at the desired hour. In the business world, prioritizing learning is a challenge for many professionals – including myself. In fact, a LinkedIn Learning report cites it as a top challenge for learning and development (L&D). Each week, I aspire to make time for learning, but week after week I fail to carve out any time for my personal development. The good intentions I start the week with quickly diminish as new tasks, meetings, emails and phone calls consume my time. So, what’s it going to take for employees to make time for learning? How can employees adapt to changing work conditions while prioritizing their own development? As with any goal, we must start small.
Be protective of your time. In a perfect world, you would choose which projects to work on and which meetings to attend. The reality is that most employees do not have that degree of control over their workload. They are assigned work tasks as they come up – adding new bullet points to their already long to-do lists. To gain more control over your schedule, employees should block time on their calendars to devote to professional development. By proactively setting aside 30 minutes or an hour, employees can ensure they have the time – assuming it doesn’t get bumped for an “urgent” meeting or project – for learning. Plan your development goals. Employees should work alongside their managers to set learning goals and identify the competencies and skills that need to be developed. Managers should tie those skills to the business to help employees see how those skills apply to their roles and help the organization. What success looks like needs to be clear to both the employee and the manager. Regular check-ins on learning goals should be scheduled and properly assessed. Celebrate small learning moments. Learning opportunities do not need to be big undertakings like a multi-day conference. Learning can be done on a smaller scale by reading popular articles or research reports and attending a one-hour
webinar or virtual roundtable discussion. Learning occurs throughout the workday with peer-to-peer interactions. People can learn new things in the kitchen while waiting for their coffee to brew. Learning doesn’t need to be formal for it to count. At the end of every day, think about those small interactions and take stock of the insights you’ve gained.
LEARNING DOESN’T NEED TO BE FORMAL FOR IT TO COUNT. Make learning count. Enabling employees to make time for learning is a key initiative for many managers and organizations this year. With limited time to devote to learning, L&D must champion personal development on behalf of all employees. They must become more creative in order to help employees find the time and resources to solve problems in the context of their workflow. In today’s modern workplace, it’s challenging enough to pause your focus long enough to answer the phone let alone focus on learning something new. Through active involvement from L&D and managers, employees can take the time they need – and deserve – to develop their skill sets and move their careers forward. Michelle Eggleston Schwartz is the editorial director for Training Industry, Inc. Email Michelle.
GUILD EDUCATION, NOW VALUED AT $1 BILLION, HELPS ORGANIZATIONS UPSKILL EMPLOYEES THROUGH EDUCATION BENEFITS BY TARYN OESCH
An almost ubiquitous statistic coming out of the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Future of Jobs report is that 54% of workers will need reskilling and/ or upskilling by 2022 in order for them and their organizations to remain competitive in the quickly changing world of work. That’s over one billion people in need of training. How can employers provide this education to their employees in a way that’s cost-effective but enables them to be agile enough to respond to changes in the market? Training Industry market data indicates that companies globally spent approximately $43.9 billion on tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance — essentially paying employees to enroll in higher education courses or degree programs. These programs enable workers to earn degrees that would otherwise be unaffordable and keep their skills up to date with ongoing education. THE SHIFTING FUTURE OF WORK “The needs of today’s corporations are changing faster than ever before,” says Rachel Carlson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Guild Education and an alumna of the Forbes 30 Under 30. Adapting, she adds, requires a “nimble” learning and development (L&D) team that “serve[s] the role of curator as much as creator and draw[s] on great content from other entities — like universities and industry associations.” Guild recently closed a Series D funding round of $157 million, which valued the company at $1 billion and established Carlson as one of a handful of female
founders whose companies reached unicorn status in 2019. Guild helps companies transform their tuition reimbursement programs “from a nonstrategic cost center into a data-driven benefit and talent strategy,” according to its website.
THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO MAKE AN IMPACT ON LEARNERS AND THE BUSINESS. The company focuses on “high-demand job titles,” Carlson says, “and skills needed for the future of work.” For instance, Guild worked with Chipotle to create a program called Cultivate Education, which offered custom education benefits programs including university programs and custom programs such as a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in restaurant management. Chipotle reports that employees who participate are more likely to stay at the company and even to be promoted within. Discover, meanwhile, provided programs in critical areas such as cybersecurity and computer engineering “to enhance critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and quantitative aptitude,” Carlson says. “AMPLE OPPORTUNITY” Guild will use the funding to expand its reach to “the 88 million Americans who need higher education to be prepared for the future of work and help them go to school debt-free through their
employer,” Carlson says. “We see ample opportunity to invest and grow the business, including growing the Guild team, bringing on additional employer and university partners, exploring acquisition opportunities, and providing additional services like career support for our graduates.” This ample opportunity extends to L&D professionals. If it’s true, as Carlson says, that “2019 put a spotlight on education as a corporate strategy creating a win-win solution for employees and employers,” training managers may find themselves in the position to shape company strategy in a newer, broader way. As we see the As we see the role of the L&D professional expand, there’s never been a better time to make an impact. A SOCIAL MOVEMENT Carlson believes that “we’re in the midst of social movement,” and more organizations will make education a corporate strategy this year “to enable working adults to advance their career and align to their talent strategies.” As agility — organizational agility and individual learning agility — becomes increasingly important, the future of work will require employees who are skilled and ready to perform for their companies. Providing education as a benefit is a tool learning leaders should consider adding to their training toolbox. Taryn Oesch is the managing editor of digital content at Training Industry, Inc. Email Taryn.
ACQUISITIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS Absorb Software, provider of Absorb Learning Management System (LMS) and Absorb Infuse, announced the acquisition of ePath Learning, a leading cloud-based learning technology company. This marks the third acquisition of the year for Absorb, as the company continues its aggressive growth strategy into 2020. GIGXR, Inc., announced the acquisition of global mixed reality and immersive learning assets from Pearson PLC, the worlds learning company. GIGXR provides a software as a service (SaaS) platform delivering extended reality (XR) learning applications for medical and nursing schools, higher education, healthcare and enterprise. Brainshark, Inc., the industry’s only data-driven sales readiness platform,
announced its acquisition of Rekener, a leading sales scorecard provider. The acquisition extends Brainshark’s position as an innovative force and leader in the sales readiness and enablement software market, with the most effective and comprehensive solutions for preparing client-facing teams to perform at the highest level. A Cloud Guru, announced the acquisition of Linux Academy, creating the largest and most effective cloud computing training platform in the world. With a shared mission to “teach the world to cloud,” the combined organization now represents the school for the future of IT: hands-on, practical and updated daily to keep pace with continuous changes in cloud technology.
HackerRank, the world’s leading developer skills company, announced that it has acquired Mimir, the cloudbased platform for computer science courses. Together, the two companies will provide computer science classrooms with the most comprehensive developer assessment platform on the market, allowing students to prepare for realworld programming. Degreed, the workforce upskilling platform for one-in-three Fortune 50 companies, has acquired Adepto, a Total Talent platform that provides visibility and access to the skill sets of current, past and potential workers. The combination will accelerate Degreed’s global expansion, and add enhanced skills inventories, onthe-job development experiences, and career mobility to the platform.
INDUSTRY NEWS THE FUTURE OF LEARNING WITH 5G
AT&T and Deloitte signed an agreement to bring 5G network connectivity and edge computing services to Deloitte University to help it transform the future of digital corporate learning and workplace collaboration. Starting in 2020, AT&T will add its 5G and Multi-access Edge Computer (MEC) technology to Deloitte University’s existing cellular environment. NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR SITUATIONAL FLUENCY
Sales Performance International (SPI), a global leader in sales performance improvement announced the release of Conversation Genius™. Conversation Genius™ can be utilized for any selling methodology, and ensures that an organization’s brand promise and key
messages are communicated consistently across the sales channel. This innovative technology provides a solution to the situational fluency problem. ONLINE LEADERSHIP ASSESSMENT TOOL
collaboration and inclusion, is proud to launch the Inclusion Works Leaders Network: an exclusive online community for D&I leaders and culture visionaries. The community enables culture leaders to connect with senior peers from diverse companies, industries and countries to swap ideas and insights.
MindEdge Learning’s new online Leadership Assessment tool enables leaders in business, academia and other fields to rate their leadership strengths and weaknesses – and see how they stack up against their peers. The results allow respondents to see which skill areas they’ve already mastered, as well as the areas in which they could use improvement. DIGITAL COMMUNITY FOR D&I LEADERS
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The Jan/Feb 2020 issue of Training Industry Magazine examines how to equip employees with the skills they need to learn, adapt and apply kno...
Published on Jan 15, 2020
The Jan/Feb 2020 issue of Training Industry Magazine examines how to equip employees with the skills they need to learn, adapt and apply kno...