What Your Company is Getting Wrong About Learning & Development
Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) are responsible for more than skill building or compliance-based trainings. In the age of remote-first work, when talent retention and overall job satisfaction is a top priority, investing in workplace learning is no longer optional. The Learning and Development (L&D) strategy your company adopts can play a significant role in shaping its organizational culture and capabilities.
Whether you’re a large enterprise with a well-established Learning and Development (L&D) plan, or a small to medium sized business seeking third-party customized online learning solutions, here are a few things to avoid when developing or updating your corporate learning strategy:
- Don’t force employees to learn on your company’s schedule. It’s tempting to create an L&D plan that dictates what your team should learn based on time-sensitive business goals. But employees may not feel motivated to participate in an online course that doesn’t directly relate to their current role. Giving employees the choice to take an online course whenever it applies most to their work will lead to better comprehension and job satisfaction. An asynchronous online course allows each team member the opportunity to enroll when they need to, and learn at their own pace.
- Don’t forget to make learning modules interconnected. Learning & Development benefits will be lost on your employees if they’re unable to remember the subject matter of their online courses! Recent science of learning research from Sanjay Sarma’s book, “Grasp: the science transforming how we learn,” highlights the importance of circling back to a topic multiple times throughout a course or program. It’s not just about repetition, it’s about integration – making each module in a given lesson relate back to a previous one, so that learners can understand the broader context of a given topic.
- Don’t let your workplace learning live in a vacuum. Regardless of what course(s) you choose to offer as part of your L&D plan, make sure that your organization offers opportunities for employees to review and integrate the information they’ve learned. At MIT xPRO, we don’t just teach professionals about emerging technology or methodologies, we ask them to apply their learnings to real-world industry case studies and capstone projects.
- Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Learners are looking to understand how a topic is relevant to them. Connecting topics to current events, or a personal experience helps to reinforce a deeper understanding of the material. The MIT Horizon digital library includes numerous real-world examples and case studies that help learners connect the dots.
- Don’t leave learners in the lurch. Online courses don’t offer learners the same feedback opportunities as a traditional classroom, which makes in-course support that much more important for effective learning. Make sure that whatever online learning solution you implement for your team has feedback and support mechanisms – like forums, FAQs, email support, online teaching assistants (TAs) and virtual office hours – and then keep that support going on the employer side by monitoring and rewarding progress, checking in with one on ones, and encouraging peer-to-peer skill sharing.
- Don’t focus too much on credits. Credits like CEUs and CPEs can help CLOs measure output, but they aren’t a replacement for understanding outcomes. Instead of highlighting or rewarding CEUs earned, organizations should focus on what business outcomes their L&D efforts create. In short: hours of learning don’t = depth of understanding, and can’t predict business impact.
- Don’t go it alone. George Westerman put it best at the 2020 Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) virtual conference, “From Trainer to Transformer: L&D as a Key Lever For Organizational Success”: technology changes quickly, organizations don’t. If you’re just beginning to build your L&D strategy, you might not see an instant shift within your organization. Be patient, and take it upon yourself to be a champion of change by getting as many decision-makers as possible on board with the online learning solutions you’re adopting.
“When someone on your team bridges their knowledge gap, they may naturally ask ‘now what’? That’s why workforce learners need to feel supported and rewarded,” according to MIT xPRO’s Senior Director of Sales, Franklin Mathieu.
In discussing what makes a company successful at learning and development strategy, Mathieu notes, “Leaders need to remember that individual growth and company-wide growth can be synonymous. Companies that do the best job at learning and development know why they are committing to it, and show that commitment by supporting learners, even after their trainings are complete. It’s not just upskilling for the sake of it, it’s upskilling for what’s next to come on an individual and organizational level.”
Building an L&D strategy takes time, consideration, patience, empathy, and organizational buy-in. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re ready to strengthen your existing L&D approach, MIT xPRO’s Corporate Learning Strategy team is here to help. Reach out to us today!