Training to perform: How to overcome obstacles to better working
November 24, 2021
The effectiveness of most training is measured in improved performance. But in these times of great disruption, how do you ensure that your key assets, your employees, not only continue to work effectively but also work better?
The answer lies in flexible, agile learning that makes intelligent use of digital technology to build a sustainable learning environment to get the best out of people.
Changes to the way we work
Over the course of the pandemic, the focus has been on what we can’t do. In terms of business operations that has meant closing offices and switching to remote working. In terms of upskilling, this has meant the end of instructor-led, classroom-based programs and no more training away-days.
As restrictions ease, there’s a temptation to expect that work will return to the way it was pre-crisis. But that view ignores the fact that the nature of work was already changing. In many ways, the pandemic can be seen as fast-forwarding us to the future of work. That future entails a greater reliance on technology to automate and digitize processes and facilitate working at a distance. It’s tempting to say we can go back to normal, but the reality is that that normal was changing already and there’s no going back to the way we used to work.
Changing the way we train
Regardless of the difficult external environment you still need to onboard new people, make sure you’re operating compliantly, ensure career development, and up-and re-skill your people to meet business challenges. For that, you need to keep training.
Yet if the nature of work is changing, training people to do that work needs to change too. That means changing what we train and how we train it. Fortunately, we already have the tools to transform learning.
Intelligent use of technology can deliver efficiencies in reach and performance. Digitization of learning opens up access and allows us to connect with remote workers. This kind of approach can also tackle long-standing issues with training such as lack of knowledge retention, failure to capture knowledge, and the absence of performance support. Digital training and e-learning bring learning into the workflow and help overcome the dichotomy that separates training and work.
Overcoming common obstacles with better training
Some obstacles to performance are long-standing and others are newer. Both present significant challenges to L&D. A review of some of the commonest obstacles to better working reveals how by taking advantage of new technology and digitization of learning resources we can find ways to overcome them.
- Lack of engagement: Overtime employees can become disengaged from work. This not only affects their own performance but negatively impacts the attitude and performance of their colleagues. Making training more relevant and accessible and using multimedia and using different formats helps reengage and motivate workers. What’s more, making your offering more learner-centric increases employees’ self-sufficiency and opens up new options for their development. Support and guidance allow them to take responsibility for their performance and increase their confidence and self-belief.
- Lack of relevance: Disengagement and poor performance often result from a feeling that what you’re doing or learning is irrelevant. By making what you train, from onboarding right through to professional development, more applicable to a person’s role and the tasks they perform, you make it more worthwhile and demonstrate your commitment to that individual. Contextualization and personalization of training allow people to see their work as part of the big picture and improve their sense of worth and job satisfaction.
- Lack of recognition: Training is generally seen as something to be consumed rather than applied. This view increases the risk of it being seen as irrelevant, as something to be endured rather than something of benefit. Recognizing the achievements of people who have completed training and rewarding people for good performance should be part of any comprehensive training program. Software platforms like LMSs can manage an individual’s learning, promote personalized learning pathways. With an LMS you can instigate a system or awards and certification through digital badging that acknowledges goals met, performance levels achieved, and compliant practice. Learning management systems can be used to promote and operate CPD schemes.
- Lack of access: Accessibility can be a problem at many levels. There’s a lack of connection with people working from home or in a different business location or geography or out in the field. Then there are accessibility issues for employees with disabilities or for people from different cultures. And there are barriers to accessing courses and resources and to making those training resources more relevant and engaging. By making digitized learning assets available on mobile and networked devices across platforms in a variety of formats you take training out of the classroom and into the working space. Learning then becomes accessible to all, how and when they need it.
- More haste less speed: In the rush to improve performance, fill a skills gap, or remediate compliance training, there’s the temptation to overload employees with information and training events. This way of training can compound a long-established problem: that people just forget what they’ve learned, making the training ineffective. Making it digital and breaking it down into chunks of microlearning, which can be anything from a short video to a quick quiz, makes training more accessible and easier to connect to. A microlearning strategy facilitates just-in-time learning, the antidote to information overload, which enables employees to access the information they need how and when they need it. It gives them the time to train and moves training into work, improving its relevance and utility and keeping people performing.
- Keeping pace with change: In a time of seemingly constant change and the need to remain competitive organizations are forced to adapt. To do that it relies on upskilling its team. But if that learning is centered on the classroom and one-off training events it’ll be too cumbersome and inflexible to respond to the business’s shifting needs. Digitization of training coupled with always-on access and a microlearning strategy allows you to adapt, repurpose, develop, and standardize your training and resources and make them immediately available to the people who need them regardless of their location. This is particularly critical in maintaining compliance but equally important in avoiding a dip in performance. Digital training is a sustainable way of keeping learning equal to the pace of change and ensuring that the resources your people access are the right ones for them and your business. Because if you don’t react quickly and responsibly, you run the risk that employees will seek information elsewhere that can’t be validated and assessed.
- No feedback: It’s a feature of some learning design that it omits the critical final phase of evaluation. How do you know how people are performing and whether your training is working without feedback? In classroom-based training so-called ‘happy sheets’ are filled in by participants after the session, but these are impressionistic and offer little hard data, and don’t cover an evaluation of performance post-training.
With digital training managed by an LMS you can collect proper data on who’s accessed training assets, where and when, and how often. This information can inform your planning and provide the basis for adapting training, filling gaps, and providing additional learning assets. An LMS can also be used to monitor, evaluate, and drive performance through setting clear development pathways and goals for individual employees and using a system of automatic notifications and alerts to trigger performance reviews and learning interventions.
Better performance with digitized training
A switch to digital training can make sure there’s both learning and development fit for modern businesses. Digital training managed through an LMS enables you to track and measure performance creating a feedback loop that gives you the data to identify and plug skills gaps.
It offers 24/7 access and promotes the levels of accessibility a diverse, culturally mixed, and dispersed workforce requires. It is a holistic and blended approach, suitable for all levels and learning preferences that supports and sustains learning and performance. Digital learning can help build a culture of learning that mitigates training gaps and inefficiencies and addresses deficiencies in knowledge retention and capture. It’s a strategy to enable us to work smarter and better, now and in the future.
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