For L&D professionals, it’s a constant challenge to create learning programs that will engage employees and drive lasting results for the individuals as well as for the organizations. It’s also an essential one – today’s talents are actively looking at training and development offerings when evaluating prospective employers.
Micro, mobile, blended learning… Trends come and go, but the question remains – when it comes to creating impactful learning programs and creating value, what really works? To help answer this question, we’ve looked at hundreds of projects we’ve rolled out, with clients across the globe. We’ve identified the common denominators to successful learning programs and created a list of 7 principles that, when combined, guarantee high engagement rates and true impact. These principle are relevant to many different types of learning initiatives, whether 100% online, blended as well as for classroom training.
In this article, we will go over these seven principles along with a brief description of why we think they matter.
1. Learning must trigger engagement and motivation for every individual
Engagement and motivation from learners is an absolute precondition for any successful training program. However, when it comes to L&D initiatives, sparking engagement is not that simple. Learners are expecting a high level of expertise from instructors, interaction with their peers and variety in formats. It is essential to combine these aspects to motivate learners and guarantee they will go through training willingly.
2. Learning must not be limited to only remembering, understanding and applying; learning must be active and purpose driven
Active learning means putting the learner at the core of the training program. To be effective, learning needs to relate to what learners are going through right now, not just trying to prepare them for what will happen tomorrow. Therefore, it’s important to give learners the space to express their needs, and to match training options with their expectations. Another key aspect of active, purpose driven learning is to allow learners to apply their knowledge right away and to learn by doing. Dialogue with peers and on the job learning account for a large part of the total learning potential.
3. Learning must prove its value through measurable results
Measuring results from training programs is a requirement for L&D professionals. The benefits from L&D have to be demonstrated, from higher employee engagement to increased competitiveness and performance for the organization. Aside from demonstrating the place of the L&D department in the organization as a true business partner, measuring learning results is essential for improving training programs.Collecting learners’ feedback, and trying to link training to performance will show what works and what should be improved in future learning initiatives.
4. Learning must be constructed, not acquired, and occur in an ecosystem where each individual can learn and teach
Top down learning approaches bear the inherent risk of making learners feel passive and detached from their training program. To make sure that training initiatives have the best results, it’s important that learners get to link concepts and theories to their daily challenges and responsibilities. As mentioned earlier, learning has to be active and internalized by the learner, who becomes a creator. The ultimate step in this process is to have learners teach their peers – in order to teach, you have to first make learning your own, which is exactly the point.
5. Learning is an emotional process
Emotions are a key part of the learning process, whether positive or negative. The trick is, faced with a similar challenge, individuals can have different emotional responses. Failure can act as a booster to do better next time, or can just as easily discourage to ever try again. Trying to anticipate and control emotions is not what’s at stake here; the goal is to leverage these emotions as ways to better engage and motivate learners.
6. Learning must occur in a safe environment
Being open, honest and transparent in the corporate world can be a challenge –the fear of being (mis)judged can be crippling. Therefore, when it comes to the learning environment, L&D departments have a responsibility to make learners feel safe. The learning space has to remain open and judgement-free, and ideally be a place where employees can question processes and suggest improvements without fearing repercussions. Very often, these very suggestions are the proof that the learning initiative is effective, and that employees are able to apply what they are learning to their day to day life & job!
7. Learning must be able to occur anywhere, at any time and take into account the constraints of the individual
Information overload is a real thing – between emails, social networks and instant messaging to name a few, information is coming from everywhere, all the time – and quality is not always the priority. It’s often very difficult to navigate in this sea of information, and L&D departments have a role to play to in this crisis. By offering curated, carefully selected content that will truly interest learners, training programs can benefit from a renewed appeal. This content must be as easily accessible to learners as possible, in order to boost utilization and engagement rates, which is why mobile is so key. By providing top-notch content to learners, and making it accessible anywhere, anytime, L&D will see a surge in utilization, motivation and engagement.
Combining and applying these seven principles will lead you, your learners and your organization towards successful and impactful learning – we’ve seen it happens with our clients! Over the course of the next few months, we produce a series of articles focusing on each principle individually, and we’ll get specific – so stay tuned!