Beyond Learning – supporting performance, building engagement

AHRMIO Webinar, 21 June 2018
Nick Shackleton-Jones

During his career, Nick met many different types of organizations, public, private, international, … but that had common challenges. They all wanted to modernize learning, but were not sure how to go about it.

This very interactive AHRMIO seminar started by immediately applying Nick’s main focus: user-centricity! Participants provided Nick with input on their main challenges, going from budget limitations, over (lack of) senior sponsorship, credibility of staff, high complexity of organizations, resistance to change, concern for parities, the problem of the continuity of the process with performance management done only once per year, to silo mentality and ensuring learning impact.

Clarifying his approach by explaining the learning elimination curve, Nick stressed that training is often not effective and takes up time and resources. If we can deliver the two or three things that people usually remember from the training and we deliver them at the time when the user needs those, then the learning impact will be greater and will be using up less organizational resources.

Participants were invited to think about how they learn, and the striking conclusion was that neither ‘classroom’ nor ‘e-learning’ came up among the answers. The way we learn every day no longer resembles educational convention. When reflecting upon the experiences the participants have learned the most from, doing and reflecting scored highly.

The starting point of the user-centric approach to learning is to try and identify what the audience cares about. Participants also reflected on what they would like their teams to care more about.

When designing learning, it is important to understand the spectrum between push and pull; between a learning experience for those that care less, but for which the organization feels it could shift behaviour through an experience, and learning resources for those who care, but need guidance and understanding of how to do things.

The audience should be put at the heart of the learning process, and that will allow us to create impact no matter how small the available budget. The question was asked whether users always know what they need, but Nick clarified what he meant through an example of transitions. When somebody is recently hired, or is transitioning from one role to another, it is clear they might not know what they need to learn. It is useful in that case to ask people who have recently made a similar transition to catalogue what is useful. Even those who don’t care, don’t want to appear stupid, so resources like ‘The top 10 Mistakes to Avoid’ will respond to their need.

Recognition is an important driver of usage of the learning tools and delivers an advantage to the users that they can communicate through social media. Nick advised to drive engagement and organizational performance by building helpful stuff and by avoiding being distracted from the user-centric approach. Creating empty spaces in which nothing happens is not useful either, so understanding which tools work well for the intended audience is important.

The approach came alive through the examples Nick brought, including a challenge-based programme which can be compared to a flight-simulator approach and the ball pit experience, which received enthusiastic comments by webinar participants.

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