Christopher Allen, COO of Nova Space Inc. and CSO of Allen Interactions. Building the best digital learning experiences for all of humanity.
Distance can make any relationship uncomfortable. Distance, even bridged by web meetings, can erode the social and emotional wealth that allows people to work together comfortably and effectively. So it’s no surprise that many organizations are struggling with the new awkwardness of onboarding talent remotely.
If organizations seeking to hire high-demand talent are to be successful, their new hires must experience rapid success, as the first few months are critical to forming personal connections, feeling included, and establishing the belief that they can be successful. in their new role.
Almost the same set of challenges arise when organizations make strategic changes and course corrections. Breaking down established procedures, systems, and relationships can change a person’s trust and perceived value to the organization.
The last fly in the ointment is looking more and more critically at every achievement, encounter and opportunity in the current economic environment. Organizations are looking for high performers to quickly fill gaps left by the great talent migration; they are looking for quick solutions. Patience for training, practice, and meaningful mentorship is running out.
But PwC’s 23rd Annual CEO Survey notes that organizations that have embraced the potential of upskilling and training are rewarded with improved cultures and productivity. For industries that rely on STEM-trained talent, talent supply cannot keep up with demand. Upskilling the workforce of the future will have to be a homegrown activity that requires internal training. This poses quite a dilemma and challenge, as only 18% of the leaders surveyed believe their organization has made “significant progress” in upskilling talent.
Distributed practice is the key not only to mastery, but also to change.
I run two companies that provide digital learning solutions for organizations, and this experience has taught me that in the not-so-distant past it was common for organizations to gather teams for an hour of “lunch-and-learn.” These were food-driven learning events. Today, it has become common practice to address the development of new skills with an online course or virtual guided class.
But the practice of “one-off” event training is rarely sufficient to influence change-resistant behavior. Even mass practice – a comprehensive exercise performed in a short period of time – found in intensive onboarding sessions for new hires cannot produce the desired results, as skills can quickly deteriorate without application.
What is a better solution? Develop learning paths to review and strengthen skills over time. Developing the confidence and competence to deploy a new skill does not happen overnight. You wouldn’t expect to gain overnight gains from one trip to the gym or become a concert pianist after just one lesson. It’s the same for any skill you want to master.
Extensive and robust research underlines the benefits of spreading learning and practice over time. dr. Will Thalheimer’s report on spacing provides proven frameworks for optimizing the learning offer and concludes that digital learning, while “not a panacea”, can make distancing and connecting with employees easier.
Why is it not common to organize space learning events at work? Pre-pandemic, the Association for Talent Development brought a State of the Industry report (paywall) that addresses key pain points in developing and delivering training. The main pain points are:
• Lack of time for training.
• No measurement results.
• Failure to obtain management buy-in.
• Insufficient budgets.
Just imagine, if such pain points exist for creating just one learning event, what pain points are there for organizations trying to support upskilling year round? In short, if leaders fail to support skill development so that individuals can act, grow, and succeed with agency, leaders must continually manage, correct actions, and address missed opportunities.
Training is a competitive advantage.
At the very least, training can provide an advantage if done right. Quality learning experiences that engage students and staff in contextual challenges and require real effort to act and solve problems can be delivered remarkably. If you choose to use digital learning solutions for this, it is important not to see technology as another way to produce a classroom experience. Instead, see it as a way to provide individualized learning experiences that build skills as quickly as each person’s capabilities allow.
In addition, keep three simple steps in mind that can help your employees get the most out of their training:
1. Reduce resistance to training by spreading it out. Managers are often against sending their staff to training because it takes time to execute. Spaced practice is much easier to sell internally compared to day or multi-day events. Ask your leadership teams if it would be easier to schedule four 30-minute online practice sessions over the next eight weeks or send all staff to a single, full-day event.
2. Challenge awareness goals. It’s not uncommon for training programs to start with the simple premise, “If only our employees knew” this one, they would act differently.” Consciousness does not equal change. Behavioral change requires practice, motivation, and ongoing support. Employees must build trust and experience success with new behaviors to enable long-term change.
3. Design backwards. The last thing you want employees to demonstrate in training before returning to work is a successful new achievement. Time, money and budget can be saved by making sure a safe practice of a new performance is the star of the show. Consider giving employees the opportunity to demonstrate a new achievement beforehand. This can help you save more time by quickly following high performers through training they’ve shown they don’t need. Remember, you can’t teach people things they already know.
If your organization is ready to finally make the leap to digital education, ask any stakeholder: are we ready to make a critical investment in performance? Training should never be a cost item, but rather the engine behind the core competencies of the organization. When it’s time to act, it’s too late to practice.