"A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether."
- Roy H. Williams
The question remains—how do you identify the "mistake"? Sometimes, the mistake is not so obvious.
Organizations dedicate significant resources to providing employees with opportunities to learn and develop to ensure they are fostering and retaining talent. In today’s environment, the digital learning options are exploding with more vendors and modalities entering the marketplace. Given all these new choices, how do you architect your program?
Below are some of the mistakes for the wise man to avoid altogether.
Lack of Context
This is perhaps the most common and the most impactful mistake programs have. Why are we learning? Self-motivation is a difficult struggle for all humans—hence the diet and exercise business is booming. The same goes for learning. We rarely do it because it’s good for us—it’s usually because we need it to achieve something. However, many organizations fail to inform employees as to what that something is: career, culture, promotion, merit increase? As humans it’s important for us to know why we are engaging in an activity, and companies need to provide some context for employees surrounding their learning programs. Context can come in the form of competencies, helping employees use a common language for measuring skills and progress.
It’s the Same Old Thing
When entering a meeting or overhearing office discussions, people discuss the latest phone upgrade, the new shoes they just purchased, the latest movie they saw—and then those same individuals talk about the online programs, proud of the same thing they’ve been offering employees for 10, but wondering about adoption strategies. In this culture, we consume information at rapid rates and our attention span is shorter by the decade.
According to a Microsoft study, the new human attention span of 8 seconds, down from 12, is even lower than that of a goldfish: 9 seconds. If you manage to engage past that threshold, an Indiana University study revealed that the average adult listens effectively for only about 15 to 20 minutes before their mind begins to wander.
Given these natural challenges in keeping focused, what benefit do we derive from the same resource each year?
One Size Fits All
Given all of the attention over the last few years to driving diverse cultures, many organizations still struggle with diverse learning programs. To encourage a diversity of ideas, we need to engage a diversity of people across a variety of learning methods. The broader and more diverse your stakeholders are, the more likely you’ll have a well-rounded perspective for your company. Those include everything from traditional, technical and compliance content, to the more modern micro-learning, social learning, blended learning and more. No matter what you are doing now, diversify your portfolio for other areas and learning styles. The more options you have for learning, the more likely you’ll engage more people and that variety helps build a culture of learning.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
We all like to be prepared and a "buffet" style menu ensures you don’t leave hungry—but that’s not the same as satisfied. Too often companies offer extensive libraries in the hopes that there is something for everyone. However managing and sorting through extensive libraries is onerous for everyone and rarely achieves the desired impact. When determining the size of the library you need, you should consider the type of continuous learning you want employees to engage in and how many hours they spend. It’s important to have all your topics covered, but you probably don’t need more courses than people in your organization.
As the media world around us changes, it influences the expectations employees have at work. Now, the marketplace in digital learning is expanding to enable professionals to deliver on a different experience. The current state is not the only option, and experimenting with your program will enable you to determine what works best for your company.
I hope these are helpful and look forward to hearing your ideas.
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The Modern Workforce Favors Flexibility and Digital Collaboration
This is the third in a series of articles we’re doing around our annual State of Workplace Productivity survey. Read a summary of the full survey here . And for our findings on extreme workloads, click here. The always-on, always-working mindset has caught on, largely due to the rise of technology and the demand for more flexible workplaces. While initially introduced to boost employee satisfaction, flexible policies and technology use actually have a greater impact on productivity, and ultimately business performance. The environment in which people work affects how productive they are. Nearly two in three employees think a flexible and remote work schedule increases productivity, according to a recent survey by Cornerstone OnDemand. The most productive work environment is an enclosed office, followed by partitioned cubicles, open desk layout and working remotely, accordingly. While working in an enclosed office is the most promising for productivity, a good chunk of employees — 19 percent — say working remotely is the most productive environment, likely due to the fact that they can control the distractions around them. Forty-three percent of employees say impromptu visits by colleagues are distracting, according to the survey. Digital Communication Enables Remote Workers Even though some employees prefer work from home policies, only one in five are allowed to work remotely. True, employees can’t communicate with colleagues in-person, but the majority of workplace communication happens digitally anyway. Nearly two in five employees believe emails and instant messages allow them to be more productive than having in-person or phone conversations. The percentage of employees that prefer in-person collaboration compared to digital collaboration is decreasing — 63 percent this year compared to 71 percent last year. But there’s a fine balance for using online communication to boost or destroy productivity. Some employees find emails, social media alerts and instant messages to be distracting, so be sure that employees know what kind of communication their colleagues prefer. The key to high productivity and flexible work schedules is arming employees with the right technology. Almost two out of three employees agree that given the right technology, in-person meeting can be replaced completely. Digital natives are demanding a more flexible workplace, and companies are listening and changing accordingly, but more need to put their employees first and do so faster. To read more findings from The State of Workplace Productivity Report, click here. And take a look at our infographic on how workspace matters:
Preparing Your Workforce for Digital Transformation
Make talent development a priority in the age of digital disruption Ready or not – digital transformation is here. With technology developing more rapidly than ever, the way we do business is changing and it affects everything from customer acquisition and our product offerings, to our tools and processes, to our workforce and work environments. To succeed in a rapidly changing market, organizations must adapt their talent management practices to reflect new digital innovations and processes. Constellation Research discovered that industry-leading companies' ability to adapt to digital disruption was a key factor in their long-term success. As many organizations begin to radically reimagine how they leverage technology and processes, a need for a new talent development strategy arises. No organization wants to be left behind because they failed to adapt well enough or fast enough to the changing digital landscape. So, how can organizations disrupt their talent development strategies to help succeed in the age of digital transformation? How to futureproof your organization in the age of digital transformation It's a sobering fact: Talent development strategies that worked in the past may no longer work in the near future. Human Resources (HR) and Learning and Development (L&D) teams must become true business partners and create a continuous, hyper-connected development experience for people that aligns to the ever-shifting goals of the business. This eBook offers research-backed strategies that will show you how to create a digitally centered, learning-focused talent development environment that will help your organization keep its competitive edge in the era of digital transformation. You'll gain insights into: Determining your organization’s level of digital transformation preparedness Coaching strategies to prep your workforce for digital transformation How to champion a culture of learning to enable ongoing employee skill development Download our eBook to discover the talent development best practices you – and your people – need in order to futureproof your organization while putting your people in the driver’s seat of their own experience.
5 Tips for Crisis Management in the Digital Age
Crisis management is a tool many leaders keep in their toolkit, but secretly hope they never need to use on a grand scale. While minor situations arise regularly in the course of business, larger scale issues can end careers and destroy entire corporate profiles if handled incorrectly. We need only look to Equifax and their epic data breach, which called for the release of their CEO and launched a Department of Justice investigation, to see the sweeping impact of poorly handled crises. Many of us might say what we "would" do if we were in such a situation, but until it happens, we really have no idea. This is where crisis communications becomes incredibly important, and HR plays a pivotal role. It's been said failure to plan is planning to fail, and never is this old adage more true than ensuring a strategy to handle a large-scale public relations disaster. As we now live in a time now where cloud-based technology is more prevalent, the digital realm is the new marketplace, and crises of this magnitude and type will happen more frequently, leadership must be prepared in advance to manage crisis in the digital age. Establish Personalities in Advance of the Crisis One of the benefits of social media and the 24/7 news cycle is that it provides opportunity to raise the public profile of anyone and everyone. While it's not necessary that all corporate leadership be incredibly active on social media from a personal perspective, it is extremely important that the company be proactive in building trust from the beginning. Get your leadership in front of your customers and communicate frequently across traditional and social media. It creates a personal connection with your company and shows there are people behind the issues. Gather Around the Message Immediately When the world of communication works on a 24/7 cycle, so must your leadership team. Have emergency communication protocols in place and ensure that they're followed. Your team must get on board with a strategic, unified message immediately and follow your crisis communication plan, which should be in place and reviewed every 3-6 months. Communicate with Employees Your best course of action is to communicate immediately and to arm all those involved with everything they need to communicate that not only are you on top of the matter, but that it won't happen again. This not only encompasses conversations with external media, but also includes conversations with your employees to ensure they can pivot with the leadership team and remain connected to your overall vision. Deploy Your Leadership Brand An established leadership brand is one of the greatest corporate assets during times of corporate strife. Your leadership brand usually emanates from your CEO, but it's more about what your leaders are known for in your organization, and it informs how your employees should act at all times. It also means that individuals at all levels instinctively know how to conduct themselves in a crisis because it's ingrained in the corporate culture and everything they do. They put the customer first, they protect the corporate identity and they remain focused on the cause. Practice Humility Finally, one of the greatest assets in our leadership arsenal is also the oldest in the book: be humble. In this fast-paced world, mistakes are bound to happen. Admitting fault and owning up to one's mistakes quickly is something that separates great leaders from those who inevitably fail. Photo: Creative Commons