Posts tagged Accelerating Learning Transfer
Linking learning and business results: are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Hardly a week goes by without a conversation with a learning colleague about the constant need to validate their department’s worthiness to leadership. When business is booming and profits are flowing, life is great. Management professes their devotion to their employees in every communication.  In many cases, they put their money where their mouth is with increased training budgets and support of new and innovative professional development programs.

However, as soon as business shows signs of slowing, or profits start to diminish, training quickly becomes an expense instead of an investment, a luxury instead of a necessity, and is usually first in line for budget cuts. At the very time when increased skills become most important, when competition is tough and business is scarce, investment in skill development can disappear overnight.

How can you improve your chances of NOT ending up at the bottom of the food chain?

Become part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.   How do you do that? Make sure that every training program is linked to the desired business outcomes of the unit that funds your training budget. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet, I am constantly amazed when I speak to learning colleagues who don’t know the strategic plans and operating targets for the organizations they support. How can you link your learning activities to desired business outcomes unless you know what the desired outcomes are? If you cannot, you will quickly become part of the problem (expense) as opposed to part of the solution (investment).

Once you know what the desired outcomes are, ask yourself these questions about every training program you want to implement:

  • What will someone be able to do after they participate in your program?
  • What skill in your competency model and proficiency will they acquire?
  • How will this new skill or skill level contribute to the desired business outcomes?

In other words, if they have this new skill, so what? If the answer to “so what” is not helping the business achieve its desired goals, go back to the drawing board and rebuild the program until it does.

Once your program is providing competency-based learning, measure it.  Have participants use a competency assessment tool to assess that skill before and after your program.  If possible, capture the business results before and after your program.  Measure the difference in skill and business results.  If your program is not impacting the desired skill or results, go back to the drawing board and rebuild the program until it does.

Stop trying to justify your programs to leadership.  Show them why they need you with numbers.

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GASP! I just created learning that doesn’t transfer and they can’t get up!

If you create learning that doesn’t transfer, then you too will keep your target audience from “getting up” in skills and business results.

In a Deloitte study[1], less than 25% of Line Managers believed their Learning & Development (L&D) departments were critical to achieving their business goals. That is not surprising given related findings on learner disengagement. It is cause and effect.

If the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job and their needs, they will be disengaged in any learning.

--> If the employee is disengaged in the learning process, then L&D efforts are mitigated – any learning opportunities will have minimal effect.

--> If minimal effect occurs, then skill levels do not improve.

--> If skill levels do not improve, then business results do not improve.

--> If employees participate in training programs, and positive business results do not follow, then Line Managers are likely to lose faith in the ability of L&D to contribute.

Why does this happen?  It’s a likely scenario when you don’t know what skills people need.  If you don’t know what skills they need, how can you possibly help them develop the right skills?  How can you create content that is relevant to their job?

Even if you know what skills they need, but you don’t actually know where skill gaps exist and have no supporting data, then how can you measure whether skill levels and business results improve?  That is, how can you measure that the programs you’re providing are closing skill gaps and driving results?

The solution

First, you create a competency model for each role, which defines the skills required to execute their part of corporate strategy.  In other words, the competency model is the connection between skills and strategy.  A competency model describes what it looks like to be great in that role.

Next, you create competency-based learning to increase the likelihood that each person CAN accomplish their goals.  This is where the learning objectives of activities are tied to the specific skills and behaviors in the competency model. 

Creating competency-based learning ensures the content is relevant to their job.  But remember that if the employee doesn’t believe that the content is relevant to their job AND relevant to their needs, they will be disengaged.  We’ve solved the first problem, now we have to solve the second.

In order to make content relevant to each person’s needs, you need to enable them to self-assess against the competency model and identify their specific skill gaps.  And you need to automate the identification of content relevant to their needs, known as personalized learning. 

If you create competency-based learning and enabling personalized learning, you will drive learner engagement and accelerate learning transfer.  And if your competency model is any good, then it will impact skills and business results.

What’s more, the aggregated skills data combined with business results over time will let you measure the impact of learning.

If you ensure that you only create content that supports the competency model for a role, you will never again create learning that doesn’t transfer.  If you use a competency assessment tool that personalizes learning for each person, you will maximize learner engagement, accelerate learning transfer, and you WILL be able to measure the positive impact on skills and business results.

[1] Bersin by Deloitte. (2015).  Reimagining L&D Capabilities to Drive Continuous Learning.




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How Accelerating Learning Transfer Will Make You More Popular

You probably have a lot of friends in your organization. People who respect you and invite you to participate in their programs.  The question is not whether you are popular in your department, but rather whether you’re invited to discussions with leadership.  Accelerating learning transfer can get you invited to the strategy table.  Here’s why.

Competency models identify what the organization needs people in a particular role to do in order for the organization to succeed and create competitive advantage.  That’s important to leadership.  Competency models intrinsically motivate people to achievement. In essence, they provide each person with a road map for how to be great.  Competency models define what is relevant.  That’s important to your target audience.

If the competency models define the required skills, then you need to make sure you have, or create, competency-based learning such that the required skills can be acquired, and business results follow. 

Competency-based learning ensures you have no learning opportunity gaps.  It provides the greatest opportunity to incorporate the “70” (on-the-job activities, skill practices, job aids, etc.) into the 70-20-10 model (see recent article in TD Magazine).

That’s why performing needs analysis without a competency model is so flawed.  How can you possibly know what your audience needs if you don’t know what skills they should have?

If you’re creating content without a competency model (and it’s not competency-based), there’s a good chance that:

  • You’re wasting a lot of your time and effort
  • You’re wasting the time of the people participating in those activities
  • You’re not closing skill gaps that are relevant to your target audience
  • You’re not moving the needle on changing the behaviors that your target audience needs to do their job
  • You’re probably not impacting results
  • And therefore, leadership won’t invite you to the strategy table because they don’t see the value of your effort

Want to fix that?  Want to be invited to leadership discussions because they know you can help them close skill gaps and achieve their goals?

Check out the webinar “How to Accelerate Learning Transfer Through Competency-Based Learning”, February 4, 2016 at 1pm Eastern time.


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