How to use learning to solve business performance problems

You need a course on a specific topic, you already have 100 powerpoint slides telling people exactly what they must learn. But you now need to convert it into an e-learning course. 

Converting a 100 slides crammed full of information is definitely do-able, but does it really benefit the employees and the organisation’s bottom line? Modern studies have shown that the key to achieving the best training and engagement results is rooted in EFFICIENCY. This means providing your employees with exactly what they need, when they need it, without bogging them down with unnecessary or unhelpful information. This kind of approach requires a shift in the way content is structured and presented. It requires leaders and L&D specialists to think deeply about the cause of the organisation’s performance problems and develop or acquire training content that address the simplest form of WHAT learners need to do differently on the job, and WHY. This approach involves cutting out any unnecessary information and focusing on what they need to DO differently to do their job better and how to measure the results of them doing it. The focus and emphasis should thus shift from INFORMATION to PERFORMANCE. From PASSIVE learning, to ACTIVE learning.

By offering employees short, to-the-point training content that have clear and intentional behavioral changes embedded in them, employees not only become more engaged but also show an increased willingness to improve their performance.  The focus is to successfully create a flourishing eco-system of learning that reports high engagement statistics and measurably impacts the business’s productivity and profitability.

The challenge is turning vague “they should know this” training requests into efforts that solve real, measurable and clearly defined performance problems that have an impact on the organisation's bottom line. In order to do this, solutions should be targeted to specific groups in specific situations and provided when they’re most needed. Thinking deeply about the actual underlying problem that needs to be addressed and the behavior change required becomes an essential exercise.

Internationally recognized training designer, Cathy Moore developed an early pioneering method that resembled these modern platforms called “Action Mapping” which she explains in her book “Map It”. Her process of optimizing business performance through training involves a 5 step process to create effective training that solves real business problems.

A summary of the 5 basic steps are listed below.

1. Write the goal for your project that is measurable.

The first step in developing effective training is by identifying a business goal that can be used to measure the success of your training efforts. Whether it is increased sales or lowered staff turnover, the important part is that it is measurable, and in-line with the business objectives.

2. Ask, “What do they need to know and why aren’t they doing it?”

The second step is asking the critical question that peels back the layers of the performance problem. Drilling down into what they actually need to DO differently and what obstacles should be removed to achieve the business goal.

3. Brainstorm practical practice activities

The next step is to brainstorm practical exercise activities that can re-enforce the behavior change that you are wanting to encourage. By giving employees opportunities to practice these activities we allow time for the behavior change to settle in and become second nature.

4. Include only the must have information

Step 4, is cutting any content that isn’t essential and doesn’t allow for the learner to APPLY OR DO something differently right now. Remember, for every minute that your employees are training, time is taken away from their job activities, and learners don’t engage with content that takes out too much time from their jobs. Millennials especially need to engage with content that is to the point and has high relevance to how they can do something better right now.

5. Create a stream of activities, not a presentation of static content.

It has been proven time and time again that the old static way of presenting content where learners passively receive content are vastly inferior to an active, dynamic and user driven model for learning. Small chunks of information and activities that reinforce these performance or behavior changes have the best results when the principle of “Spaced Repetition” is applied. Allowing time for the learner to practice and understand how they can more optimally contribute to the organisation’s objectives.

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