Aligning L&D With The Business To Drive Performance

David James
David James
December 11, 2019
Aligning L&D With The Business To Drive Performance

It’s Not Up to Us Whether We Change. It’s Whether We Change in Time.

You’ve heard it all before: People aren’t using the LMS nearly as often so as to justify the expenditure — and elearning is largely resisted. Employees don’t want to wait for a course that may or may not help them with what they’re trying to do and they certainly don’t want to spend their time in uninspiring elearning just in case there’s something useful buried within it. 

We’ve tried to coax and even bribe employees with games, leaderboards, and ‘fun’ content to no avail.

Meanwhile, the L&D profession has shifted its aims from ‘better learning’ to actually affecting performance, productivity and capability. To do this, L&D needs to expect more from itself, and the role that technology plays within that. 

We address this in our latest ebook on how L&D can start focusing on business outcomes (vs. learning outcomes). Because it’s not up to us whether we change — it’s whether we change on time. 

Download your copy of the ebook here, or read the excerpt below!

Get your copy today: Aligning L&D with the business to drive performance.

L&D is at a Point of Inflection

Learning and development is at a point of inflection. It’s being forced to reevaluate what it does and what it delivers, but not because of fads and not for change’s sake. The desired outcomes for L&D, and the expectations from its stakeholders, have fundamentally changed. With regard to programs and content, L&D used to be about delivery and provision, and measured by attendance, completion and satisfaction. It didn’t speak at all to business results. Now, L&D is being charged with affecting performance, productivity, and capability. 

As L&D, we can’t keep doing the same thing and expect to achieve more with a clunky platform full of elearning that’s not only not helping, it’s become a distraction to drive traffic towards in order to justify the investment! 

In order to drive performance and get digital to do some of the hard work, L&D needs to expect more from itself, and the role that technology plays within that. 

As L&D we need to reevaluate what we do based on our technology’s ability to deliver performance, productivity and capability (not programs, content, and attendance). 

What does that look like? It’s largely a digital experience that scaffolds the work experience that people face. L&D needs to provide guidance and support that surfaces in anticipation of what people need when they need it, so they are equipped to do more of the ’right thing’. It will require L&D to look at learning from the individual learner’s perspective. 

Key Challenges Facing L&D Today

We Aren’t Measuring What Matters

Attendance and completion rates used to be legitimate measures of success… a decade ago. L&D quickly realised that people couldn’t be dragged kicking and screaming to the LMS for learning. Unless it was mandatory (and if so, then it was for compliance purposes). Learners would get the test done to prove that they were compliant, then the system would prove that they were compliant, and no one would remember any of it afterwards. Elearning traditionally was not aimed at affecting performance or capability. 

In recent years L&D shifted its focus to engagement as a measure for success — the latest 2019 research shows engagement is still one thing L&D wants to improve. But this has been interpreted as the need for ‘engaging’ content and platforms, which has led to cursory interactivity; unnecessary game-based content; ‘edutainment’; and an overwhelming amount of generic content. Offering external bribes to pull traffic and keep people logged in just doesn’t get to the core of the issue. So what does?  

The Trick to Engagement? No Tricks. Start Selling Value. 

Constant connectivity and people’s reliance on devices proves that there isn’t a reluctance to use technology to gain information, know-how, and insights. It also suggests that L&D has been doing the wrong things because engagement is still a problem. 

People don’t want to be ‘engaged’ — they want something that works. They want guidance, support and development that speaks to them in the context of their organisation, team, roles and ambitions. And they want it at the time they face unfamiliar situations and challenges for the first time. That means they want L&D to offer value. A learning solution that spoke to this would need to appeal to peoples’ primary reasons for engagement. And if that happened, then engagement would cease to be an issue.

End of day, L&D must expect more from its learning tech. Engagement is ‘first base’ and not the home run. The home run is ‘positively affecting results that matter to your organisation and its people’.

The Biggest ‘Missed’ Opportunity in L&D: True Learning in the Flow of Work 

When confronted with a knowledge gap at work what do you do? You Google or YouTube it. And you don’t stop working to do so. It’s the online equivalent of turning around and asking someone in the office, “What would you do here?” You’re layering your know-how to immediately turn around and apply. This describes true learning in the flow of work: whilst you’re in the flow, ‘performing’ at work, you grab information, know-how and insights to layer your existing capability to perform even better. 

Learn more in the ebook: Aligning L&D with the business to drive performance.

Learning — Make it Timely

One of the factors that L&D hasn’t been able to get its head around yet is timeliness. Timeliness means understanding what it is that people are trying to do, and then surfacing the right experiences and content in order to guide them from ‘not knowing’ to ‘doing in the most efficient time’. 

Doing this right would require a solution that could combine deep analytics with an L&D approach that anticipates the point of work to provide information, know-how and insights to affect what people do next (with constant iterations to get closer). It would take ‘hypothesizing problems’ out of the equation since decisions would be made based on evidence and data, and by looking at the frictions people actually experience.

This would be a game-changer when it comes to impacting performance, productivity, and capability because employees would be getting what they really need, when they really need it. 

Is it User Centred? 

So far, we’ve been breaking down L&D’s challenges — but let’s look at it from the user’s perspective in the context of work. What does learning look like today?

  • Learning isn’t equipping people to perform in the context of their roles 
  • There is little meaningful engagement unless training is mandatory 
  • When people face challenges or something unfamiliar they aren’t guided or supported 
  • People are taken away from their work to learn 
  • What is provided to learners doesn’t speak directly to them in their roles (elearning content is irrelevant, generic, has no context, and makes no difference)

When learning is user-centred — and people have their needs met — they will be guided and supported by L&D to do more of the right stuff to predictably get more of the right results. As they transition in an organisation, rather than being overwhelmed, they’re provided with information, insights, and know-how that guides them through the period. It’s not just being revealed to them. It’s always been available. But they get a little nudge to say ‘when your colleagues were in a similar situation, they found this resource useful’.

Evolving L&D: Moving From ‘Tech-enabled’ to Digital 

To truly affect performance and build organisational capability based on the friction that people are experiencing within their roles, or as they transition, L&D would need to adopt a consumer grade technology that does much more than just deliver elearning. It’d need to solve the engagement issue. Not through gimmicks or by spoon feeding users content, but by taking the guidance and support people need to where they are when they need it most — in the flow of work — to affect performance. The platform would be under-pinned by a methodology that would grow the digital capability of the L&D team and drive the performance of end-users. After all, putting content into a platform and launching it is easy. But sustaining high levels of engagement (beyond mandatory training) takes so much more than this.

The ideal solution would help you to operate from a place of knowing, with data and evidence-based approaches. And it’d be scalable.

Interested in how technology can help L&D get business results? Contact us today!

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