Learning and Development: 2015’s trends and avoiding ‘one-size-fits-all’

Learning and development techniques are “critical” to the success of an organisation, one expert told HC. Here are the trends to consider for getting ahead of the game for the rest of the year.

Learning and Development: 2015’s trends and avoiding ‘one-size-fits-all’
Training, or Learning and Development (L&D), is a central— indeed, critical—part of the modern organisation, large and small and in both private and public sectors across Australia, according to Mike Magee, CEO of TP3.

However, the optimum way for a workforce to learn skills is “not a one-size-fits-all” – there is an ever-increasing pool of development techniques for employers to dip into.

“That amount of choice also raises its own questions, however, and L&D professionals are now expected to be not only learning experts but also fluent technology purveyors, able to select the best fit-for-purpose and, as always, cost-effective learning solution,” Magee said.

HC also spoke to Laurie Hibbs, co-founder of No-JAC, who agreed with Magee’s sentiments that employers should avoid a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

“The ‘trouble with training’ is that every worker is a human being who learns in different ways and at at different speeds and with different capabilities,” Hibbs said.  “One-size-fits-all assumes a common level of know-how and capability and this can make training agonisingly slow or impossible to take in. This is especially true of training designed to change behaviour – such as confidence, management or leadership – where the only way to change people is to find their individual motivator, talk to that need and gradually ease people towards a new way.  This takes repeated practise and requires ‘training’ allows people to practise the change and get feedback on their performance.”

He added that because this type of training is expensive, complex and time consuming, organisations often resort to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach because they believe it will work or cut costs.

“E-learning is a great example, in that it is effective for demonstrating or measuring compliance but arguably useless for creating any other change or skill,” Hibbs added. “However, businesses are investing heavily because it feels like an easy way to impart knowledge.”

Magee outlined the trends in Learning and Development that employers should expect to see in the New Year:

Increased use of mobile eLearning and performance support
“We’ve learned a lot about how best to make mobile-supported content and applications really effective, and no doubt the up-and-coming millennial generation of employees will demand it,” Magee said. “You’ll also see more and more social media being used in the workplace as a work tool, particularly to improve customer service.”

Ongoing coaching and mentoring
“Ongoing coaching and mentoring will continue to grow in importance because, quite simply, it’s really hard to remember something after only being told once in, say, a classroom or guided online learning session,” Magee told HC. “More complex topics, especially so-called “soft skills” like negotiation, presentation and other management skills require a campaign approach using ongoing interventions to revisit complex topics and refine or refresh key learnings in order to drive them home.”

A shift toward self-skilling and taking responsibility for one’s own learning and growth
“This trend, as well as activity-based working and continued rising interest in blended leadership programs are patterns I expect to see,” Magee said. “I also see a growing “Google-isation” inside corporations—that is, how workers will locate an expert within the enterprise or an answer they need as readily as they would Google something outside the office.”

Managing a remote workforce
“Another major trend I see, and this is as much about the impact of technology as it is about flexible work arrangements, work/life balance or employee satisfaction, is how to manage a remote workforce,” Magee added. “Whether it’s allowing employees to telecommute from home or having teams of employees working across time zones or even around the world, remote working is a growing trend that brings with it real and unique challenges that learning professionals and managers need to overcome.”

“Add to this the need to keep employees engaged, motivated, learning, developing, productive, heading in the same direction and all this while building and strengthening a unified organisational culture, and you can see we’re dealing with a whole new magnitude of learning and management complexity,” he said. “Beyond these trends, I see more of those we saw in 2014, like webinars, self-paced and self-directed learning and more of the “70” in 70-20-10.”

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