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For the past five years, the siren call of value-based care has put pressure on healthcare organizations to prepare to deliver the same, if not better, quality care with lower costs. Learning professionals in healthcare organizations are feeling the pressure, too, as they’re expected to deliver high-quality learning coupled with savings. Add the demand to build talent that’s ready to lead healthcare into the future, and learning and development leaders are increasingly called upon to re-think employee education in creative ways.

As a learning leader, this means the time to shine in “showing off” your stuff is now. While your organization may have valued you for your ability to bring in excellent training programs or even design and deliver them yourself, time and money is now in short supply. It's difficult to pull employees from front-line clinical care or the important administrative work they do, and many are working on teams that are simply too lean to release them for training. You’ve probably also been asked to reduce your budget — after all, the learning organization is an overhead expense, which often gets hit earlier than clinical areas.

But while the challenges are myriad, the fact of the matter is, you know how to develop people. Training is one piece of the development process, but we all know that actual development occurs when people put education to use through application. That’s when the learning really sticks. So, in this time of lean budgets for training and limited time for people to get away for four- or eight-hour courses, use this opportunity to make it easy for your employees to learn through their work.

The key for learning professionals is to re-think your job description. Your new task? Help leaders design impactful and intentional on-the-job learning experiences. Not only will you be saving your organization both money and time, you'll also gain these benefits:

  •        Leaders deepen their capability to develop their own people
  •        Organizations maintain productivity levels while development takes place
  •        Strategic work that has been on the back burner can be put in motion by assigning the work as a developmental assignment
  •        Learning professionals rejuvenate their passion for developing others with new challenges to design action learning

Here are some action steps to give your leaders as they engage their employees in action learning:

  1. Define the assignment: What work experience will stretch the employee to develop?
  2. Determine what the employee should learn from the experience: What are the expected learning outcomes?
  3. Arrange for support: Who can be a resource to the employee while working on the assignment?
  4. Debrief the experience: How do you want to summarize what was learned from the experience? 

Just as healthcare leaders are redefining delivery of care, learning leaders must also redefine the delivery of learning. Look to action learning to achieve results, and make it your mission to help leaders design and facilitate learning on-the-job.