Author: Ashley St. John
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Let’s face it — many plans to transform corporate learning culture and improve employee performance are plagued with short-term, tactical disruptions. The ever-evolving needs of customers, market changes and leadership demands pose constant challenges for chief learning officers looking to keep large-scale workforces agile, relevant and productive. CLOs are tasked with creating and fostering a positive and continuous learning culture that links to business goals, engages employees and can be measured. In addition, corporate learning programs must have buy-in from C-suite peers, which isn’t always easy with so many competing priorities.
We are seeing a fundamental shift in the L&D landscape with an employee-centric blended learning approach taking center stage. Savvy CLOs are looking to scalable technology solutions to deliver engaging learning content in the workflow that compliments and reinforces other platforms. This approach creates a win-win scenario, as it engages employees and makes them happier and more creative, all while helping organizations lower costs, remain competitive and create value for customers.
Following are three employee-centric best practices CLOs should keep in mind when preparing their workforce to successfully meet ever-evolving market challenges.
1. Business goals and learning goals must go hand in hand.
Before determining business goals, ask yourself: What do employees need to learn to have the most impact? What are their unique talents and strengths? Every L&D initiative, regardless of size, needs a clearly defined, measurable goal that links to a business objective. L&D is fast becoming a business imperative, but not all C-suite peers necessarily see value when hard measurement of ROI has been lacking. CLOs can only stress that continuous workplace learning is a must-have, not a nice-to-have, when they can prove an impact on business outcomes. L&D programs are too often considered a low priority, which can deprioritize executive support and funding compared to other initiatives. Tying L&D programs to tangible results — such as proficiency, which is becoming the new currency of ROI — is essential. Ensuring L&D and business goals go hand in hand is a way CLOs can guarantee L&D programs are being properly supported, implemented and valued.
2. Engage employees by investing in their personalized learning journey.
Successful companies put their employees first. After all, employees are an organization’s biggest asset, so it’s crucial to invest and engage in their unique learning needs to be successful. The challenge is how to identify knowledge and skills gaps to know where to start when crafting a personalized learning journey that is relevant and timely. This requires assessing baseline knowledge and behaviors through technology such as mobile microlearning, which can pinpoint areas for managers to provide personalized coaching support. When rolled up at team, function or group levels, such technology can inform learning program development to address the gaps and not waste time training areas that have already been mastered. Learning program efficiency is a must when budget, time and resources are constrained.
3. Simulate critical thinking.
To make employees better — not just smarter — utilize scenario-based simulations in your L&D programs. Engaging employees in critical thinking can help develop and shape the right behaviors so they can do their best. Critical thinking simulations prepare employees to be responsive and agile in any situation. When scenario-based critical thinking challenges are combined with spaced education techniques, such as spacing and testing effects, long-lasting behavioral changes can be impacted more durably. In the learning process, scientifically proven spacing techniques combat the forgetting curve by improving knowledge retention. They do this by presenting and reinforcing information over time. Meanwhile, the testing effect is an active learning and long-term behavior change process that tests, challenges and questions individuals while giving them immediate feedback.
Most plans to transform corporate learning culture and improve employee performance come up short. Stay a step ahead of your customers’ needs by adequately preparing your employees with the knowledge, skills and behaviors to deliver value in any situation. For CLOs to guarantee L&D program success, it’s important to link initiatives to clear and measurable goals that tie back to business objectives, while also being conscious of how employees engage in learning. Creating critical-thinking simulations helps your employees succeed in real-world situations. This is critical as customer needs and markets are constantly changing and CLOs need to prepare and engage the workforce of the future to be agile, adaptive and customer-centric.