For a more successful learning intervention try communicating more regularly, says Kiara Williams.
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The importance of learning and development programs in the workplace cannot be overstated and focus on them is rising considerably. A sizeable 48% of millennials say that they’d leave their current jobs if there were no L&D opportunities available to them there.
L&D is vitally important to keeping employees excited about their jobs, since workers today consider continual growth and improving their skillsets top priorities. If your organisation does not offer employees opportunities for the learning that they crave, you’ll end up losing your best talent to companies that will.
Training is not only highly motivational to employees but also provides a great return on investment for companies that offer it. In fact, businesses that spend more of their budget on training programs enjoy a 24% higher profit margin.
The value of ongoing learning and goal-focused development plans in acquiring—and keeping—the best employees is well-established, but there is a crucial factor that makes any L&D program ultra-effective and virtually ensures that you and your staff will get the most out of your learning.
If your organisation does not offer employees opportunities for the learning that they crave, you’ll end up losing your best talent to companies that will.
This factor is regular and targeted communication throughout the learning process. Communication begins in the planning stages and continues after your learning programme has formally been completed. Without this, the even the most well-intentioned efforts can lose steam and won’t produce quantifiable results.
Targeted communication should be planned and will include stages:
When you include employees in the planning of courses and course material, it empowers them to take control of their own career paths and makes them feel like valued members of your team.
In the planning phases of your L&D program, meet with the members of your team individually to discuss what each of you expect from the learning experience. Be sure to talk openly about objectives and about what you hope to gain from the programme.
If there are areas which your employees need not master to be more effective, discuss why this is needed and what you are hoping to accomplish by bringing everyone up to speed in these programmes.
Cooperatively developing plans for each employee also offers an excellent opportunity for managers and staff to discuss future career paths. Identify skill gaps and discuss personal goals so that together you can design custom-tailored learning programs that align with each employee’s goals and with your goals for your team as a whole.
Learning programs that are personalised to align with the aspirations of each employee are taken seriously as a result.
Supplemental coaching and support during L&D
Regular check-in conversations with management during and following each phase of the L&D programme are crucial to the successful assimilation of new skills and information. Check-ins scheduled with team members at intervals throughout L&D can help keep training on-track and bring to light any issues or concerns so that they can be quickly addressed.
For example, if an employee is learning an online software suite or taking a management course, the course might be divided into four sections which each take two weeks to complete. After each phase is completed, managers can meet with team members to check progress.
Even if there is time for only a 15-minute phone call, the person-to-person interaction will reduce the possibility of the learning process going off-course because the employee is feeling overwhelmed, needs extra learning support, does not believe the training is serving him in the way he’d originally hoped, or any number of other issues that might arise.
Check-ins provide an opportunity to focus, solve issues that arise and realign the programme with its initial goals before too much time and effort are expended in other directions.
Tools that help relieve managers of some of the burden of supporting and coaching employees throughout their learning can be immensely helpful in facilitating the L&D process.
Performance management systems like Learned.io offer coaching and goal-setting features that serve as support for managers by giving employees a sense of connection, support and acknowledgement when regular face-to-face check-ins aren’t possible.
Milestones should be marked, and progress acknowledged, providing backup support and helping employees and managers to set goals for further growth.
Supplemental coaching and support after L&D
After the formal training period has ended, how can you as a manager keep the momentum going? Many LMS systems and other online learning programs allow learners to treat learning as an ongoing process.
Take language-learning environment mondlyWORKS for example. A learning environment like this gives managers the ability to observe employee progress throughout their language studies. During regular L&D check-ins, managers and staff can discuss how the learning is progressing, and mutually decide whether or not certain areas of study need to be revisited.
A perk of such a system is that students can repeat lessons until they and their managers are satisfied with the results, even if this is long after the courses are officially over. This is especially helpful if the motivating factor—say, a factory belonging to the company opening in another country—is only happening in a while, and employees need to keep their newly acquired language skills sharp until then.
After your employees have finished their courses of study, continue your regular check-ins—perhaps once every six to eight weeks— so that you can help your employees integrate and apply what they’ve learned. If either you or your employees feel the need to revisit any portion of the learning, this can then be addressed at any time after the formal completion of training.
Ongoing support keeps inspiration alive
Ongoing communication about progress and goals creates an supportive atmosphere and also allows managers to keep a close eye on employee progress.
The interest and support of a supervisor engages team members and gives them a real sense that they are progressing in their careers—and naturally your staff feels encouraged when you are invested in their careers.
When management puts a learning programme in place and then disengages from the process, it can leave employees feeling rudderless and without any sense of working towards a common achievable goal.
Conversely, learning in a supportive environment keep employees interested, engaged and dedicated which will create a great atmosphere for your company to develop. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link and if all your employees are happy and focused, it’ll make a huge difference to you company.
About the author
Kiara Williams is a consultant to businesses and entrepreneurs.