This may be a bold statement, but trust me when I say, “Your learners don’t need motivating to complete learning”.
Now, I expect many of you are now shaking your heads, and muttering to yourself that “he doesn’t know my learners” - but just hear me out on this one, your learners are demanding input from you. Input that will help them do their job faster and better, which can only be a good thing for you and them. The consequences of not providing that training shouldn’t be underestimated.
The message for L&D teams from learners is loud and clear: “If you don’t provide it for me, I will go and find it myself”. Is the shift of power changing? Is this the L&D world’s equivalent of football’s player power?
The answer is probably yes, which is, understandably, making L&D teams more than a little nervous:
- How do they control the message? If your users are going in search for the answers themselves, how do ensure those answers tow your company line?
- How do they QA the answers that their learners are finding? This is the classic, “It says so on the internet, so it MUST be true” - sometimes we forget that anyone can set up a Wikipedia page, yet all so often it is quoted as “fact”.
- How do they stay on top of the most recent technical innovations? Let’s face it, your users are far more adventurous with technology than you or I ever were; they are used to finding instant answers, where ever and whenever they need them.
Instead of being nervous, we should embrace this desire to search for answers, encourage it even. Offering easy access to information has to be a better training approach than sheep-dipping everyone through the same course, irrespective of its relevance to their role (or their desire to complete it).
Looking on the bright side
If L&D teams took time to listen to what the learners were asking them for, their message is actually a very positive one. The learners are telling the L&D functions that they are:
Learners want learning, but they only want the learning that they need now, and in a format that they choose.
They are happy to search for it. I don’t need to sit through a 3-hour training course on how to replace the filters in a Dyson before I buy one. However, I know exactly where to look for a video clip that shows me how if and when the need arises.
They have the skills to access it. We should be confident that our learners will ‘get it’, or at least work it out in a short space of time.
They know what training and development they need. More importantly, only they know what training they want.
Armed with this knowledge, all the L&D team need to provide is the right content, at the right time, using the most relevant media. This can, in many cases, be summed up by the phrase “Fewer courses, more resources”. Bite-sized continues to be the way forward. However as we move into 2016, the elephant in the room still appears to be the L&D teams “requirement” to prove that everyone in the organisation has been “trained”, by creating endless, compulsory training programmes.
Of course there is a place for a structured compliance programme, but I wonder if a 90 second video, animation or an infographic is any less beneficial to a learner than a two hour face-to-face workshop. If the short interaction manages to provide the information the learner needs, when they need it, and also motivates them to change behaviour once they have watched it; surely that is no bad thing.
This demand from learners to shift to short, on-demand, digital pieces can only be seen as putting learning technology companies in a strong position to continue to grow - assuming that we continue to listen to our learners, and continue to innovate.
Nurturing a team of learners, with a thirst for knowledge and growth, requires a change of mindset. They know what they want; we just need to get onboard to deliver that.