If you want to ensure your leadership development programs are successful, you need to instill a single belief among aspiring leaders in your organization. This single belief trumps all other efforts you undertake in preparing your program. It is more important and more powerful than top leadership commitment. It will be more successful than selecting a good leadership development vendor. It is more critical than getting people to commit to attending.
Companies that invest heavily in research and development during recessions often come out better positioned to compete and often become market leaders. This McKinsey Quarterly article demonstrates that while most companies were reducing reducing research and development during the Great Depression, as evidenced by falling patent applications, DuPont did not. As a result, during the 1930s, Dupont created neoprene and nylon, and "by 1939, every automobile and airplane manufactured in the United States had neoprene components.”
Employee surveys can be an excellent tool for discovering what employees want from the organization in order for them to feel engaged and productive. However, organizations can actually do more harm than good if the organization is not prepared to act on the results of the survey, and share every detail about the feedback received, actions taken, and the reasons why actions were take and why actions were not taken.
Watching college football this weekend, it occurred to me how great instant replay is in professional tennis. In college football and the NFL, instant replay can take so long it makes you want to change the channel. What is even worse about instant replay in the NFL is that most of the calls are still debatable. Confirming or overturning the call is subjective, based on the best judgment of the referee. But in tennis it is different. In tennis, we look at a digital video of the ball hitting the ground on the line or outside of the line. It is objective, accurate and it takes just a few seconds.
Managers have enormous impact on people performance both positive and negative. However, there are too many examples of the negative impact that bad managers have on people and performance for us to ignore it the way we do. And we do ignore it. Too many organizations react first to poor performance by blaming the employee and seeking solutions to "fix" them. Companies should spend most of that energy fixing management.
Training and performance improvement professionals work hard every day trying to make training more engaging. Our goal is not to make the training more engaging by itself; we want to improve participation in class, increase learning and retention, and ensure application on the job that improves performance. Increasing engagement does not have to be difficult. Here is a list of nine ways you can easily make your training more engaging.
For Pete’s sake, do not call your learning management system, the “learning management system.” That is like telling your friend to call you on your “hand-held, long-range, mobile, radio-telephone device.” Too many times in organizations, I have seen that link on the intranet. It is ironic that no one calls their intranet, the “intranet.” The organization comes up with a branded name for the intranet. We should do the same for the LMS.
Yes, I know. The business is putting more pressure on you to deliver more training and you just don't have the resources.
The problem is not that “they” do not understand. The problem is that “you” do not understand. Everyone in the business is under the same pressure. The VP of Customer Service who is putting pressure on your team to deliver more training than you can develop, has been asked to service more customers with fewer customer service representatives, and she needs those she has to learn about five new product launches this quarter, not to mention the new CRM system that is being installed in the same quarter.
By the way, your competitors are under the same pressure and might just be working a little harder than you are.
There is no going back. Things are speeding up, and you cannot go back to the VP of Customer Service and tell her that, “based on our development process (ADDIE), we can have that new product training ready in 4 months.” Bzzzzzzzzzzz. Wrong answer! The product launch is in one month and by the way, customers are already calling about it. Yikes!
So what do you do? It takes time to create effective training. No doubt about that. “If I speed up, quality will go down, and I don’t want to develop low quality training,” you say.
There are four things you can do to speed up the instructional design process without decreasing effectiveness. In fact, you may increase effectiveness. And isn’t that what matters most? Isn’t the goal of effective training that a person is able to perform a job well? Consider four things you can do to speed up your instructional design process and quite possibly increase its effectiveness.
It will never be done anyway
The first thing you need to do is begin with the premise that learning programs you design are a work in progress. Ultimately, you will never fully complete a task because as soon as you do and get everyone trained, the product will change or be replaced. Think like a software developer and focus on getting version one of your training designed and delivered. Then, continuously update it as necessary.
Have instructional designers do the job
Have instructional designers do the job for a few days. Send them over to the call center. Let CSRs show them how to take calls and then have the instructional designer talk to customers for a few days. They will have a new appreciation for what tasks need to be learned. This will speed up the ISDers ability to understand the tasks and then design the learning experiences required.
Workbooks, not manuals
Don’t bother to write too much text into the learning materials explaining how to do each task or understand each concept. No one reads it anyway. If you understand cognitive load theory, you know that people cannot listen, read, look, take notes, and process it all at the same time. Make your training materials look more like structured outlines and less like manuals. Put all that text on a wiki.
Lots of practice activities and live work
There is an Estonian proverb, The work will teach you how to do it. So, the more you do, the more you learn. It does not take much time in the design process to create two days worth of training if the two days are spent practicing. Repetition is good. Bring an experienced CSR into class for the practice and let that person answer the tough questions and give feedback to the learners. Have that person act as a customer in these practice exercises to make it seem as real as possible. Then, have the learners talk to live customers while in training. Do.
Remember, you do not need to sacrifice quality for speed; you just have to change the premise of what you design and deliver. Your job is not to create training, it is to serve customers, just like the people in customer service. The only difference is that customer service answers the phone to talk to customers, and you prepare customer service with the knowledge to help customers.
There are specific employee groups that learning professionals have come to assume don't need training -- or, if these groups do need training, training teams needn't offer them many training opportunities, if any at all. And yet other groups in organizations receive training consistently. Many companies regularly implement training for customer service, sales, and operations functions, but rarely do the same for marketing, finance, and engineering employees.
What I wanted to learn when I read Designing mLearning: Tapping into the Mobile Revolution for Organizational Performance by Clark N. Quinn was specific tools and technologies that I could pick up and start designing mobile learning – or mLearning – right away. However, Quinn would not let me fall into that trap, as he reminds the reader that it's not about the technology. In fact, he tells the reader that even if it was about the technology, the technology will have likely changed between the time he wrote the book and it was published. Quinn does a nice job getting the reader to think at a higher level about the what, how, and ultimately why of mobile learning.