The phrase “Best Practice” has never sat well with me. To me, it is a little like suggesting everyone should shop at Selfridges for their clothes, when actually a little tailor down the road may be able to make something perfect for you. It may even be something shop bought, but then tweaked a little to be the perfect fit. When we started to discuss “Best Practice” in our second Friday L&D Mastermind natter on Clubhouse, Rob Moors in his inimitable style threw in “Best Fit” as an alternative.
Interestingly, the dictionary definition of Best Practice:
“Commercial or professional services that are accepted or offered as being correct or most effective”
So by very definition, what is most effective for one multinational organisation of 10,000 employees, in the IT Industry, may not be the best fit for an SME os 250 employees in the financial services industry.
In preparing for the natter, I found a great factsheet from the CIPD called “Learning and Development Evolving Practice”. This seems to have some of the elements of both best practice and best fit. In the factsheet were 10 “shifts” as they described them:
Focus on business needs not just L&D priorities.
L&D outputs informed by metrics not guesses.
Learning underpinned by research and evidence.
L&D shifting to a curator-concierge approach, not just creator.
User choice and co-creation, not prescription learning.Measuring learning value, not volume
Social learning, not just formal.
Just in-time learning and in-the-flow, not delayed.
Bite-sized learning not just feasts.
Digital, mobile learning not just face-to-face.
Measuring learning value not volume.
These were useful discussion points, where we agreed with some and not others wholly. Here are some of my thoughts:
1.Focus on business needs not just L&D priorities.
Absolutely! This has been my battlecry for so long and why I wrote my book, “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training” and developed an online course by the same name. Bums on seats and no-shows may be important to us, but does it really help us to design solutions that will have impact? Does it help L&D to have a reputation of being problem solvers or prolong the label of being order-takers?
2. L&D outputs informed by metrics not guesses.
If we in L&D don’t seek out the important metrics for the business by consulting with the stakeholders, then why are we surprised that the business does not always value our contributions? If a stakeholder comes to us with a problem that has a ready made solution we should be asking them for evidence to support the fact that it is a problem!
3. Learning underpinned by research and evidence.
This ‘shift’, for me, has implications that the learning is done to the individuals and that journey of discovery and mind set shift has to be directed. In face-to-face training sessions, we can encourage and facilitate a mind set shift that steers a team or group to a new path, yet undiscovered. This 3rd shift seems to negate that fact that learning can be a valuable journey of discovery. Learning about outdated methodologies in management techniques is an obvious ‘no-no’, but collaboratively coming up with a new way for an organisation can reap benefits.
4. L&D shifting to a curator-concierge approach, not just creator.
Assuming that L&D are the sole creators of the new learning individuals need, has always been flawed. Allowing people some choice in where, how, what and when they learn gives more agency. It could also add to their confusion. My thoughts on this, are that there is a little of both. L&D should use their expertise in learning, to offer a good range of options. They facilitate the outcomes rather than impose them and partner with the stakeholders to achieve the performance improvements the business needs.
5.User choice and co-creation, not prescription learning.
This follows on from shift number 4 above, where learners are given more agency through choice and partnering. Prescriptive learning does not always give people a choice to fully discuss the whys and wherefores of the solutions proposed and allowing a mind set shift.
6. Social learning, not just formal.
There is no reason why formal learning cannot also be social. When we think about what has happened through the pandemic, people have yearned for human contact and valued the time physically together. That said, the opportunity afforded us through the pandemic allowed us to explore how technology can keep us connected. This should be leveraged against any face to face meetings.
7. Just in-time learning and in-the-flow, not delayed.
Another one that I struggle with. There are some examples where I would not want training to be just in time or in the flow of work:
Surgeons or anyone in critical patient care, though I would not mind my GP looking up the latest information aided by AI.
Professions where lives may be in danger – the ability to practice and perfect is crucial.
A financial advisor who was advising me on my long term investments, I would want them to know the full range of options BEFORE speaking to me.
Solicitors, advocating on my behalf.
Customer facing ‘experts’
To name a few… smart AI used to aid decision making is something that can possibly be utilised more.
8. Bite-sized learning not just feasts.
I agree with not overwhelming learners with too much information, but if there is too much time between the ‘bites’, the connectedness of the learning may be compromised. Learners learn at different paces and in different ways. Some individuals will only ‘get it’ when they have had a chance to mull it over with others, test out options and talk through what may be an opposing view.
9. Digital, mobile learning not just face-to-face.
In an era where there are many ways we can learn, even on our mobile devices, it would be foolhardy not to take advantage of the range of these methods. The more new technology we explore the wider the range of methods that are available to us to learn from.
10. Measuring learning value not volume.
Not surprisingly, the ‘shift’ list from the CIPD factsheet ends where it began. ‘Measuring learning value not volume’ is closely linked to the first one ‘Focus on business needs not learning priorities’. If we are clear about what the business need is, then once the learning is complete, the value of that learning should be measurable. If you are not sure how to even begin this then my online course and book ‘How Not To Waste Your Money On Training’, will help you immensely
“A cultural phenomenon driven by the creation and role modelling of vision and values”
We all agreed, in our natter, that it is not something that happens by sitting through a presentation on PowerPoint! So traditional, didactic training, is not the vehicle which is going to affect the change we want to see.
When you think about it, what you are asking people to do is change their habits and sometimes non-conscious processes. These processes may be ingrained and tied to their own beliefs and values. In order for them to start to shift in their behaviour, they need to feel safe enough and dare to be different. Once the shift starts they need to be encouraged to keep making those habit forming changes that lead to lasting behaviour change.
We spoke briefly about the ‘compliance trap’, where training needs to be done and recognise that rules very rarely cause lasting behaviour change. What really impacts behaviour change is a shift in mindset and this is rarely achieved in one simple step.
These are the key things which impact behaviour change:
Leaders who walk the talk, not just talk the talk. If colleagues are told to change behaviour and do not see their leaders emulating those behaviours, it becomes quite a de-motivator.
Line managers and leaders need to listen to colleagues about concerns, difficulties and stumbling blocks to change. With the best will in the world if people do not have the right resources, change does not stick.
The psychological safety and support of colleague’s through the change will, enable them to form new habits which will be adopted long term.
Outcomes that satisfy all parties need to be negotiated. They do not need to be joint goals, so this is where some give and take will really have an impact.
Communication needs to be clear and focussed. Mixed messages will serve to demotivate colleagues.
If you would like to join us for an informal chat in Clubhouse next month about our L&D Mastermind theme of ‘Best Practice in Learning” then use this link to join.
‘ByteDance, the owners of Tik-Tok, has made a strong statement about the ineffectiveness of its talent development team. In an internal memo, the company noted talent development had “limited practical value” and represented a “disconnect” from the company’s needs.’1
Can you, in L&D, be sure that you are connected to your organisation’s needs?
It is thought that close to 100 people for talent development were laid off, in spite of the company’s insistence that “Talent development is still very much a priority for us and for our employees.” That indeed may be true, as they are looking at different ways in which they can still develop their people without the burden of a large and inflexible Talent Development team.
How can you ensure your L&D team are relevant and in tune with the organisation?
“Because the team has already grown quite large, we have decided to no longer retain the Talent Development Center as many of its roles and functions are not in tune with our current development strategies” continued the statement.
So is your L&D team running out of time?
What do you do to demonstrate value? Is your learning strategy aligned with the organisational strategy? Do you engage with the right stakeholders in the right way to maximise impact?
This is from the CIPD L&D at work survey of 2021:
The desire to demonstrate impact is hampered by barriers to evaluation
The majority of respondents do not use evidence to inform programme design
Both of these would be enough to be of concern in any organisation and both are easily remedied.
When people speak about the “barriers to evaluation” I believe this is more about having the data measures in place BEFORE beginning any design. This is echoed in the second point from the CIPD, about using evidence to inform programme design.
It seems straightforward to me with my engineering brain and my love of data to:
Assess where you are now
Determine where you (the organisation and the participants) want to be, with clear measurable outcomes
Look at your resources and constraints
Design something within the constraints you have that will achieve those outcomes
Another recent set of opinions from Donald Taylors Global Sentiment Survey 2022:
If you aggregate 1, 5, 9, 10 and 11, it adds up to a whopping 36.3%. I chose these because again they are indicative of L&D not aligning with the organisation and not using evidence to inform good decision making.
So what happens then in the world of L&D when we want to get closer to the organisation?Just the other day, I saw a social media post asking if anyone had a copy of a learning strategy they could use as an example, to copy. Here is what they should do instead of copying a strategy from someone else:
Look at the organisations mission, vision and goals for the next few years
Speak to each of these stakeholders and ask them these questions:
What is the biggest challenge the organisation is facing?
What is the biggest challenge your team/division/section is facing?
How could L&D help you overcome these challenges? Can they be quantified in some way?
What should L&D start doing?
What should L&D stop doing?
What should L&D continue doing?
What should L&D do differently?
If all of this seems sensible but you and your colleagues need a hand in some of the details you may be interested in a new online course that launched recently called “How Not To Waste Your Money On Training”.
This is another one of the questions that may be asked when playing the Learning Loop™ , a new and exciting replacement for the traditional ‘train-the-trainer’ course.
It’s is an interesting question because some people go straight to the obvious, things they need to get from a Learning Needs Analysis:
Knowledge – WHAT they will keep in their head.
Skills – WHAT you will be able to see them do (or their outputs).
Attitudes – HOW they do things.
These are 3 very good things to look out for and specifically you would want to find the difference between where they are now and where you/the stakeholders would like them to be.You are essentially wanting to know the gaps that you need to fill. If you can gauge what level they are at the start, defining what they need to know by the end will certainly be easier!
What will help you greatly in this is something like Blooms Taxonomy. Watch the video below to fi;nd out more.
There are of course other things that you may be looking for in a Learning Needs Analysis:
A clear idea of the problem(s) you are trying to solve
Clear organisational outcomes and measures
Clear learning outcomes and levels of learning
Which stakeholder’s will be involved and supportive
How line managers may help imbed the learning
The resources that are available
What has and has not worked in the past for similar projects
And many more things….. if you would like to chat to Krystyna about how you even make start, then book a free 30 minute consultation to ask all the questions you would like!
This is one of the first questions that may be asked when playing the Learning Loop™ , a new and exciting replacement for the traditional ‘train-the-trainer’ course.
Notice that it does not say “Training Needs Analysis” or “Learning Needs Analysis”, simply “Needs Analysis”.
By implication, if you conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA), any of the solutions will be training courses. In the same way, if you conduct a Learning Needs Analysis (LNA), the solutions will be broader than for the TNA, but the assumption is that the outputs will involve learning of some sort.
So if you conduct a Needs Analysis (NA), you will look beyond training or learning requirements and it may force you to identify the problem(s) more clearly and concisely. Now you may worry about conducting a Needs Analysis, for fear that you might be required to solve problems which are beyond the scope of what L&D does. This is where working with the right stakeholders will really help. If you identify a problem outside of your remit, your stakeholders will be grateful, but not necessarily expect you to solve it. In this way you do not end up wasting your money on trainingor learning that is not required. Again, happy stakeholders!
Going back to the question raised in the title……
Reasons to conduct a needs analysis:
To ensure you have measurable outcomes
To rule out that the problem has nothing to do with training or learning
To make the design easier (clear objectives)
To get on board with your stakeholders requirements
To get an idea of the gaps in knowledge, skills and behaviours so you will know how to fill them
To identify any issues that were not identified in the brief
To get line manager buy-in for follow up (the biggest reason training fails)
I am thrilled to introduce Talya Rabinovitz, a clinical psychologist with a passion for helping people avoid overwhelm and stress so they can be their best selves at work.
In this blog she will be sharing 3 top tips and the psychology behind them so you know not only WHAT works but WHY!
As a Clinical Psychologist, I was thrilled to sit down with Krystyna from How To Accelerate Learning and unearth the deeper psychology that explains the success of her programs for L&D professionals. If you care about understanding how to create psychological safety so that your L&D initiatives are more effective and engaging, here are 3 things Krystyna is doing that you can borrow…
(And if you need any convincing of the power of psychological safety, consider that it was identified as the number one predictor of team performance in a study conducted by Google).
Keep It Playful
Play is often dismissed as a “waste of time,” but actually, it can be very effective in regulating our nervous systems. Why do we care about that? Because the more regulated our nervous systems are, the more we stay in our highest brain, where we can problem-solve, collaborate and learn most efficiently and enjoyably. Krystyna weaves play throughout her workshops, whether it’s through a simple game or exercise – she’s even created The Learning Loop, a game that help L&D professionals learn how to maximize learning. With regards to play it may be seen as childish by some and actually what Krystyna encourages is a child-like approach to learning – maximising curiosity and engagement.
Hot Tip: What can you do to make your programs more fun and playful?
Pay Attention To Emotional Expressions
Psychologists know to watch our clients very carefully for signs that they aren’t feeling comfortable. This is a great way to get a sense of their internal experience and whether they are in their highest brain, or dysregulated in a fight, flight, or freeze mode. Krystyna is also finely tuned to the emotional states of participants in her training. A perfect example includes watching how people react to being told they need to take part in an “icebreaker” at the beginning of a new program. Noticing the visible discomfort this causes, Krystyna has come up with more enticing and engaging ways of building new relationships and groups, rather than just following a typical formula. She endeavours to make it a much more ‘natural’ experience rather than the ‘forced fun’ of an icebreaker; welcoming people in as they arrive and encouraging them to greet each other and explore the room. There may even be some simple activities to get their curiosity peaked.
Hot Tip: Pay attention to the emotional expression of the people you’re training. Don’t be afraid to test our new approaches that seem more aligned with your audience’s needs.
Be Mindful Of Your Own Nervous System
Our nervous systems are finely tuned to pick up how the people we are with are feeling. Think about how you might have withdrawn when you’ve felt your colleague is stressed or arced up, ready for conflict, when you’ve sensed your partner is in a bad mood. We’re wired to connect with each other and that means we are highly sensitive to the state of each other’s nervous systems. Krystyna is intuitively aware that how she is in the room, affects how her participants feel during her training. This is highlighted, as she speaks in a melodic voice and maintains a relaxed, open posture – signs to our nervous system, that someone is safe and it’s ok to get closer to them. This not only feels better to be around, but it also makes it easier for us to learn, as we stay in our most evolved, higher brains.
Hot Tip: Pay attention to how fast you speak and the rhythm of your voice. Play around with your pitch, volume, and speed, aiming for a more melodic, relaxed tone.
To find out how you can increase psychological safety in your work, so that productivity and engagement increase, book a 30 min strategy session with Clinical Psychologist, Talya Rabinovitz at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download some helpful resources from my website.
I take evaluation very seriously. Before we run theLearningLoop programme or indeed any programmes, I undertake to outline, with the client, what measures we will have in place to see if the programme has been a success.
I have just completed two cohorts with a new client and it is too soon to measure all the outcomes but we know that confidence has increased and ways in which they can improve. In a few months time we will be able to see the learning applied into action but meanwhile things are looking good!
Looking at just four of the evaluation forms, you may see why I am feeling confident we will achieve our desired outcomes of increasing confidence and capability in the subject matter experts. There are some hard business measures too for the learning they will be facilitating! Meanwhile take a look at the evaluation forms:
It was such an interesting chat today in the L&D Mastermind 2nd Friday natter on Clubhouse. We started off talking about the ‘ROI of Learning’ and we finished off discussing about how to find the higher purpose of compliance training.
If you have never attended anything on clubhouse, it’s an informal (non-video) way of having a great discussion. Our next L&D Mastermind natter is on December 10th at 9am on this link.We will be talking about ‘Reflection: its purpose and value to L&D’.
These are some of the memorable take-aways I have from the natter (prompted by Cat Nelson, who was on fire btw!):
1) Measuring ROI can be a great weapon to use when someone wants training without a purpose – get them to define what they will get out of it and ask lots of questions
2) If you have a clear purpose to be fulfilled by the training it is easier to deliver it
3) The WAY that we train can have a completely different impact even with the SAME purpose
4) The L&D role is evolving and rather than think about L&D strategy we need to be clear about the business strategy so that we help deliver on it
5) Even in compliance training, by digging deeper into the wider purpose you can broaden the impact and gain more buy-in.
6) For ‘cost-centres’ like customer service start to look at the value you bring rather than the cost you incur – this forces you to look at your purpose
I am working with a client, helping their subject matter experts become more facilitative and creative when they help others learn.
This has generated a lot of enthusiasm and one person involved in inductions has asked this question. “It is possible in a 20 minute session (presentations mostly) to get interaction going?”
My answer has to be yes and was backed up by neuroscience, that being talked at all day is NOT going to be as impactful learning experience. You need to involve people. As I answered the question and justified the use of creative activities, one member of the group offered to share her experience of induction from 5 years ago.
The MOST memorable of the many sessions they had from a vast array of departments, was from the Procurement department. They set up an activity where groups were given a (fake) pot of money to spend on something they needed and had to justify that spend. This lasted 20 minutes and yet had a profound impact.
Which are your most memorable induction activities that you either experienced, heard about or delivered? Would you please share them here to create a resource for many?