Geet attended a three-day workshop on ‘building leadership behavior’ over the weekend and had a great learning experience. She was engaged in many activities, discussions, met people from all walks of life and networked. However, when she returned to work on Monday she had several deliverables to take care of and her boss told her to just ‘get on with it’ and not try all these fancy new things she learned. She still tried to apply the skills but gave up within a few days.
While there are many professionals who attend the learning programs with great enthusiasm, they often fail to translate these learnings to behavior change. This could be because of several performance barriers such as the culture of the organization, the work pressures, the attitude of their boss, the lack of a support system, among others. Stuck in the cycle of usual work when employees fail to inculcate the knowledge they gained from these varied programs, their investment in their own learning goes futile.
A research by Prof. Robert Brinkerhoff shows that only 1 in 6 participants actually apply behavior on the job. So, what are we missing?
Some reasons that cause the gap in learning and application:
- A classroom content design paradigm
- Focus on learning and content versus performance improvement and behavior change
- Event versus process design
- Not linking learning to business goals and metrics
- Not leveraging emerging technologies appropriately
Most of the organizations have moved on from the traditional classroom model of learning to e-learning and gamification and have even attempted to make the learning programs more meaningful and relevant with the help of a lot of pre-work and need analysis. However, they still fail to make a significant impact. This raises the question that maybe after the first, second and third generation of L&D, there is a new generation that has emerged.
High Performance Learning Journeys: The fourth generation
The new generation of L&D has a multi-dimensional learning architecture as it looks at several elements to build the learning journey.
At the core lies learning and before that, there are several barriers that don’t allow the learning to shift to high performance and eventually help to create business impact. The L&D practitioners have to be cognizant of those performance barriers and figure out ways to combat and minimize them.
Generally, most of the learning journeys are spread out on the dimension of time. L&D interventions are designed for a designated amount of time with some dedicated prework and post work but they are still event based. The language and the way we look at these time zones and spread out the learning programs need to transform and continue even when the learner resumes work. Further, there are more factors other than time that will enable success.
To begin with, there is the element of spaces. Could there be certain elements of it virtually, certain elements of it classroom style or on the job? In today’s digital age the more efficient way to deliver learning is to distribute it across platforms and make it accessible to learners anywhere, anytime.
The other factor is the dynamics or the relationship they share with other people at the workplace, from supervisor to customer, it could be any stakeholder they are invested with in terms of learning. L&D leaders can leverage these relationships to lead high-performing learning journey. For instance, they can make the supervisor a coach who guides and ensures that the learner is instilling the behavior learned at work too. They can help the learner in making the shift from input to application.
Apart from these, there are other learning tools and structures, like gamification, e-learning and microlearning which if used in a systematic way to give the participants a good learning experience and most support possible. A game alone or an e-learning module alone is not enough, but when these tools are used in tandem with other elements like relationships and spaces spread over time and linked to business the learning impact is manifold.
These, when put together, make a high-performance learning journey.
The four core phases of a high-performance learning journey
- Commit to the journey
- Building the knowledge foundation
- Develop and practice Skills
- Strengthen results
After putting all the elements together to design a high-performance learning journey, L&D practitioners have to also take care of the four core phases that enable the learners to apply their learnings on the job. Beginning with ensuring learners commitment for learning, the learning modules have to be designed keeping in mind their needs and interests. Then check if the basics are clear and if the participants possess some basic, foundational knowledge. Then behavior and skills have to be continuously practiced and through post-intervention programs it has to be checked whether the learner is applying them at work or not. Then with constructive feedback from peers, supervisors and customers, the behavior and skills can be strengthened.
These elements and phases help the L&D professionals in not only designing a high-performance learning journey for the employees but also help them to transform their role as a consultant to business instead of just being a support function.
(The article is based on Webcast by People Matters & C2COD on "Shift From Learning to Behavior: Building a High-Performance Learning Journey)