Before you dismiss today’s post based on the title, hear me out. It’s a comparison that I never thought I would ever write, but it fits.
At this year’s Chief Learning Officer Symposium, I had the opportunity to hear a panel discussion on the topic of creating and sustaining a culture of learning. The panelists included global leaders in talent and learning from Qualcomm, Hilton Worldwide, Procter and Gamble, The Vanguard Group and ADP. As they were talking about how their organization approaches learning, it occurred to me that they were describing the same conversations I hear from marketing executives about getting customers to buy products and services.
In today’s business world, we say that the buying experience must be customer-centric in order for a purchase to happen. The customer experience is key. Same goes for learning. In order for corporate learning to be engaging, it needs to be learner-driven. For some of you that might not sound very new and revolutionary. But the reality is (as much as we want to and should) we don’t always design training that way. Sometimes the objective drives the design or the budget drives the design, instead of the learner.
Here are 5 takeaways from the panel discussion that really got me thinking:
- Give employees a single source for learning. When I’m shopping for something, where’s the first place I go? Most of the time – Amazon. One company discovered their employees were searching Google to find the answers to their questions. So they decided to give employees a variety of training options (e. in-house learning programs, off-the-shelf learning programs, MOOCs, etc.) housed in a single location.
- Let employees see training evaluations. What do we do when we’re researching a purchase? Look at reviews and ratings. Employees should be able to see the top rated workshops so they can make the decision about which programs to attend. This is a bold move, but I totally get it. It puts accountability on the designers and facilitators of learning.
- All training is voluntary. Even compliance training. Speaking of accountability, I completely believe this. Even for topics we consider important and are therefore tempted to call “mandatory.” Employees should understand what topics are essential for them to do their job effectively. There should not be a need to coerce them into attending. This philosophy forces designers to make learning compelling. If the program doesn’t deliver on its program description, the employee is welcome to leave.
- Embrace mobile. Create an internal app store. I love that some of the apps I use not only tell me how to maximize my productivity with their product but other apps I can use in concert with theirs. With the increase in mobile device usage, this only makes sense. Help employees maximize their productivity by telling them about mobile apps that will benefit them. Give employees choices. For example, Evernote isn’t the only note taking app; maybe an employee would like OneNote better. Ask super users to share tips and tricks.
- Provide employees with systems that have great search capabilities. There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a website to purchase something and not being able to find it because the site is slow and clunky. (The Target / Lily Pulitzer campaign is a great example.) Websites are increasingly aware that user experience (UX) matters. Websites and apps need to be intuitive. Want to improve your user experience? Sit with 10 employees. Ask them to find INSERT PROGRAM NAME HERE in your LMS. Then watch how they do it. I’m sure it will be an eye-opening experience.
[Tweet “In corporate learning, the user experience is key”]
I have always been an advocate of making things easy to buy, easy to use and easy to share. If you want people to buy your product or service, that’s what it takes. Now it’s time to apply that same philosophy with employees. If we want them to engage with training (or frankly anything for that matter), the experience needs to be driven by them.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby