Every business has its challenges when it comes to training employees, but there are three issues in particular that plague companies trying to improve their training programs. All three of those issues result in low ROI and negative views of training when they’re not addressed.

Effective training looks much different today than it did 30, 15, even 5 years ago. We have more access to data and scientific evidence that proves traditional approaches to training aren’t as effective as they could be if modern methods were incorporated.

Your employees have become accustomed to constant connection through various devices. They have access to media that’s relevant to whatever they’re looking for — whether it’s learning how to complete a task, being entertained, hearing about current events, etc. They expect their training experience to be up-to-date with the technology they’re using daily, and to deliver the information they need to be successful in their job.

In a 2017 report, Execu|Search found that 76 percent of Millennials rank professional development opportunities as one of the most important elements of a company’s culture. Considering that they are already making up about half of the American workforce, paying attention to the learning needs and preferences rising from Millennials’ development is crucial for a company to see any return on its training investment.

So, what are the needs and preferences of modern learners? Short content that delivers the message without overloading the brain’s natural capacity to take in information. Video based content with high production value. Reinforcement of training to move important information to long-term memory. If your training is too long, unengaging, and lacking reinforcement opportunities, it’s time to make some changes.

CREATE A MICROLEARNING HABIT

When you’re taking employees off the job for training or having them sit through hour-long courses, you’re missing the opportunity to help them become better at learning. With packed schedules and endless to-do lists, your employees need the ability to learn relevant information whenever and wherever they need it. This means they need short bursts of training (less than 10 minutes) that can be in-corporated into each day, a.k.a. microlearning.

Utilizing microlearning not only decreases cognitive load and allows for a higher percentage of the information to be absorbed, but it creates a habit of learning every day — which is a foundation of innovative and agile organizations.

QUALITY MATTERS: IS YOUR TRAINING A BLAST FROM THE PAST?

One of the biggest complaints from employees about their employer-provided training programs is that the content is out of date. Training videos from the 1980s are hard to take seriously when you’re distracted by the wardrobe choices and the inferiority of the technology. Video is the most popular and most effective format for a wide variety of training topics, but learners today will have a hard time engaging with anything that doesn’t have high production value or clearly demonstrate that it’s relevant to their job today.

HOW TO PREVENT TRAINING FROM BEING FORGOTTEN

The third and most critical issue has nothing to do with what happens during training. It’s all about what happens afterward. Our brains are wired to forget things that they deem unimportant, and they do so at a stunningly rapid rate. Within 24 hours of a training event, your employees will have forgotten 70 percent of what they learned — unless you counteract this natural forgetfulness with post-training reinforcement.

Making training memorable means using spaced repetition to help short-term memory transfer to long-term. Using quizzes right away promotes the first stage of recall, and then spacing out follow up questions (multiple choice, short answer, polls, etc.) signals to the brain that this information needs to be used, therefore it should be moved to long-term memory. Whether learners answer follow-up questions correctly isn’t important. Provide them with the correct answer, and the benefits of forced recall still stand.

To see greater engagement and ROI in your employee training program, try incorporating modern microlearning with post-training reinforcement.

Published in Insights

I recently had the privilege of training 25 companies on mindfulness practices. Part of our session was on corporate culture. It's a topic that I love to speak about, because most companies have a candy coating to their true corporate culture. My favorite definition of culture comes from the Harvard Business Review. It refers to culture as "consistent, observable patterns of behavior in organizations."

The problem with corporate culture is often the difference between internal public relations (P.R.) and reality. The P.R. view is usually consistent across big companies. It goes something like, "Working here is amazing, fun, a growth opportunity where everyone loves each other and treats each other wonderfully. Best. Place. Ever. Oh, and snacks."

The truth tends to be a different story. Most attendees share a list of common challenges in the corporate world including:

>>  Doing more with less (faster, cheaper)

>>  Disconnected management

>>  Offshoring

>>  Technology challenges

>>  Offshoring innovation (sending employees the wrong message)

>>  Risky competition

>>  Increasing injury rates

>>  Absenteeism and presenteeism on the rise

We had 12 industries in the room, including real estate, technology, automotive, banking, consulting and consumer products. All agreed the challenges were universal -- the norm. If this list is the norm, then by definition, it's part of your company culture; the consistent, observable patterns of behavior in your organization. You don't have to talk about it; it just happens.

We then turned our attention to disruption. Every company has normal challenges. But we also have disruptive forces that ebb and flow, making the challenges even more difficult to work with. We started with basic disruption, the kind of global phenomenon we're all sadly getting used to: terrorism, politics, technology espionage/theft.

I challenged the group to think about smaller disruptive forces. The ones we don't talk about, but are massively damaging in the aggregate. For most companies, this includes:

>>  One-third of your employees suffers from insomnia. They show up unable to perform at their best.

>>  Four generations of employees must work together for the first time ever. And guess what? They hate each other! But few companies address the language, expectation and cultural divides that cause daily tension.

>>  Employees aren't taught focus and awareness skills. Injury rates are on the rise, and 91 percent of work accidents are caused by human error. The average company has 3.2 injuries for every 100 employees, at a cost of $38,000 each. If you're in a 10-percent margin industry, you have to make $380,000 just to cover injuries for every 100 employees. Do the math.

>>  83 percent of employees name work as their biggest source of stress and anxiety.

>>  Gallup estimates 70 percent of employees are disengaged at work, and 18 percent are actively disengaged, including toxic employees intentionally looking to avoid work.

The group agreed that disruption is the norm. It's part of your company culture; the consistent, observable patterns of behavior in your organization.

When it comes to company culture, the big question is this: Do you recognize the challenges and disruptive forces in running your business? Do you feel they'll get worse in the next 10 to 15 years? Are you equipping your employees to be resilient in the face of increasing disruption and modern business requirements?

If you're not addressing these, you might more realistically describe your culture as, "We demand faster, cheaper and ignore systemic market forces in the face of increased evidence that people don’t like it here. And we have good snacks." If your culture is just taking disruption as the norm vs. actively working to address it, you may have a culture problem that a P.R. spin won't help.

Here are some ways to solve that problem:

>>  Invest in the stress resiliency, mental well-being and coping skills of your employees. Mindfulness training has the benefit of helping the individual, while also opening him or her up to having more empathy and compassion toward one another.

>>  Look for more opportunities for employees to come together to create community. Whether it's monthly happy hours, celebrating big wins with team karaoke or team "offsites," a team in with which the individuals bond with one another will build a culture that is imperative to the functioning of the company.

>>  Add mental well-being to your quarterly staff surveys. When in doubt, ask. Check in on the level of stress in an open and transparent way with the intention of opening up the conversation instead of ignoring it. Ignoring it is resulting in 46 percent turnover for the average company in the U.S.

>>  Start small. Rome wasn't built in a day. Find what the biggest issue is first, and focus on that for a quarter. Then move onto the next big thing. Just like habits, you need to focus on each aspect of a company's culture one at a time to make real change happen.

>>  Don't let employee well-being slip, no matter what. When things get busy, the first thing that goes is that we forget to take care of ourselves. The same happens in business. Little do a lot of companies understand how much work suffers at the hands of poor well-being.

No company is perfect. But there are a lot of ways and resources to improve the inner workings of any organization.

-- Joe Burton is CEO of Whil, Inc, a recognized authority on employee wellbeing, author and speaker.

Published in Insights

A few years back, “big data” was all the rage. Today, you may be more likely to hear “data analytics. The bottom line remains the same: You have to change yourself, your team, your way of operating and — most importantly — your strategic approach to doing business with stakeholders.

To do this, you must become a data-driven leader committed to learning the basics. You can’t walk the walk until you can talk the talk. Then, find and nurture allies. A successful data analytics initiative requires friends in high and low places. Finally, reassess the profit and loss statements (P/Ls). Changing your approach to data starts with changing your mindset, which starts with the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you measure outcomes instead of activity.

THE STATE OF DATA TODAY

Statistically speaking, you’re likely at or near the beginning of your data analytics journey. But it’s time for change. In 2016, 54 percent of companies had a chief data officer, up 12 percent since 2012. And they have a key seat at the proverbial strategic table. In contrast, the 2017 Bersin Learning Organization Maturity Model, which tracks companies at four levels of L&D maturity, tells a very different story about our use of data. Thirty-five percent of companies surveyed are in the bottom tier, Level 1. They are still focused solely on traditional metrics like feedback from learners, stakeholders and follow-up assessments.

At Level 4, the Bersin model’s top tier, it’s a totally different data universe. Companies are collecting new data while utilizing existing data to improve development and work. Bersin’s findings on the implications for their businesses are pretty compelling. These organizations score better on performance improvement, information architecture, knowledge management, human factor design and content curation than less mature peers. And, perhaps most importantly given how rapid technological advances are changing work and society every day, these companies can look ahead the future and ready employees to adapt to change. But they’re only six percent of companies in the study.

RISKS OF IGNORANCE

What’s so wrong doing things the way you’ve always done them and not aspiring to data maturity? In short, by not leveraging data analytics or doing so without the right guidance, L&D organizations severely limit their ability to solve problems and advance business strategies. That’s what makes them order takers instead of valued partners.

Other more fundamental risks to watch for:

>>  Decision-making by gut, not fact

Common sense can sometimes be our enemy, because sense and logic can be deeply personal and subjective. Data, however, can remove guesswork, biases, anecdotal reasoning and other human foibles that can throw strategic efforts off course. Data can also take the emotion out of business discussions and break down silos as objective metrics light the way forward.

>>  Solving the wrong problem

You’ve surely been there — weeks or months of effort to resolve a vexing challenge are revealed to have been a waste of time, resources and goodwill, because the challenge turned out to be a misunderstanding, a red herring or a rush to judgment. Data helps avoid predetermined (and often erroneous) approaches to problem solving.

>>  Measuring efficiency  rather than effectiveness

Your team may take pride in having filled all available seats for your latest learning endeavor. But is your company better served by getting “butts in seats” or by ensuring that those employees are learning the right content at the right time in a way that drives the intended results? Even the most advanced L&D organizations on the planet can benefit from revisiting the metrics they’re capturing to ensure a focus on effectiveness and not just efficiency.

Too many companies, and L&D functions, don’t focus on defining and achieving measurable outcomes that align with and advance business strategy.

YOUR ACTION PLAN

Here are three very straightforward actions you can take to advance on your journey as a data driven leader.

1 First, start with learning the basics.

You won’t get very far if you can’t speak the language and follow along in conversations. You don’t need to become an expert, but it’s crucial that you read up and get with the basic parlance.

Information without interpretation has little value. You or a member of your team may not be running the numbers, but analytics requires business understanding to give it meaning and power. It’s relatively easy these days to “buy” the services of a data statistician. What you can’t buy is someone who knows your organization and can ask the right questions.

Start with the four types of analytics. Data analytics is commonly categorized as descriptive, diagnostic, predictive or prescriptive. They are separate from, but roughly align with, Bersin’s four levels of L&D maturity.

a.  Descriptive analytics asks, “What hashappened?” Mining data to provide trending information on past or current events provides decision-making guidance for future actions, often in the form of key performance indicators. Descriptive analytics data is usually displayed within reports or dashboards, which are sometimes automated to issue alerts or trigger actions at various thresholds. In day-to-day business operations, much of analytics is descriptive in nature.

b.  Diagnostic analytics asks, “Why has this happened?” Utilizing statistical and analytical techniques to identify relationships in data sets and degrees of correlation between variables helps pinpoint the causes of problems and formulate corrective solutions.

c.  Predictive analytics asks, “What could happen?” The term encompasses a variety of techniques, such as statistics, modeling, machine learning and data mining, which are used for finding cor-relations within big sets of current and historical facts, to make useful predictions about future events.

d.  Prescriptive analytics asks, “What should we do?” It explores a set of possibilities and suggests optimal course(s) of action based on descriptive and predictive analyses of complex data. Utilizing advanced analytical and mathematical models, it can also provide reasons for its recommendations and possible implications of following them.

The best partner for a data scientist is both knowledgeable about the business and relentlessly curious about what makes it tick. This type of person knows how to probe for understanding and judge whether data “feels right.” Deep knowledge of your company, combined with data analytics prowess, is a winning combination.

2 Find and nurture allies.

If there’s one immutable law of data analytics, it’s that you cannot do it alone. Reach out, within and outside your company, to professionals who are successfully using their data; take them to lunch and ask lots of questions.

It’s especially important to identify key data players within your company or non-profit: the data experts, gatekeepers and evangelists, whether in I.T., a data-savvy group like finance or marketing, or on the board. There are a few reasons for this. First, you may encounter leaders who re-sent both you and the very notion of data analytics. As that kind of resistance demonstrates, moving to a data-driven leadership culture, like any change effort, will bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. Some will instantly grasp its meaning and potential, while others may be skeptical, cynical or worse. It’s important to find allies early, as detractors may be frequent and fervent.

Another reason to seek allies is practical. Most L&D organizations lack the experience and clout to single-handedly lead a data analytics change effort, especially if it requires data from outside your function. Building strong relationships with leaders from one or more lines of business (such as sales, marketing or operations), you can gain:

a.  Understanding: These functions tend to already be engaged in data analytics and thus have familiarity and resources valuable to an analytically-aspiring L&D team.

b.  Access: Teams already heavily using analytics are likely data gatekeepers whose cooperation (and data) you will need to be successful.

c.  Advice: Analytics-minded executives can help focus change efforts on concrete, measurable business outcomes, avoiding potentially narrower, L&D- focused issues (although it’s generally advisable to start small, you’ll do well to think beyond L&D to all of your company as you become a strategic, data driven leader).

3. Reassess KPIs.

The third priority is an underlying mindset shift. Data analytics is a means to an end: improving your team’s performance. But that can only happen if you are measuring the right outcomes. Are you capturing efficiencies only, or also effectiveness? What have you always wanted to measure? Once you start to look at measurement in a different light, you’ll likely be motivated by the new potential you see to prove to yourself and your stakeholders that what you do matters and advances organizational strategies.

The first mindset shift is to use data to measure outcomes rather than activity. Mature organizations collect more data at more frequent intervals from more sources and are therefore better at understanding their organizations and what they need in order to make work better, and to utilize metrics and data sources that measure results of actions and not just the actions themselves.

Let’s look for a moment at so-called “rear-view mirror KPIs”: what happened. A classic example is using learner evaluation scores as evidence of impact. Yet when my team looked more closely at this a few years ago, our research showed that sales training survey results were typically driven by room temperature, food quality, and whether the presenter was funny. There was no correlation between learner feedback scores and sales rep productivity.

Assessing whether the course achieved its defined goals and objectives requires an entirely different, and more sophisticated, set of questions and measures but will enable learning teams to objectively demonstrate to their stakeholders and themselves that their efforts positively impacted the business.

L&D professionals who are measuring rear-view mirror KPIs have simply been doing their job as they were asked to do it, aiming to fulfill the expectations of their internal customers. This brings me to another critical mindset shift required to change you from an order taker to a strategic partner, and it’s yours.

L&D leaders must take the initiative. We must not wait for business stakeholders to change their expectations of us. It is up to us to hold our executives accountable for defining desired business outcomes — and have them hold us accountable for tracking our impact on those outcomes.

YOUR NEW END GAME

Achieving these priorities and especially these mindset changes are the critical first steps toward measuring impact instead of activity.

-BY JENNY DEARBORN, MED, MBA

About Jenny Dearborn -- Recognized as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council, Dearborn is the Chief Learning Officer at SAP, accountable for the talent development strategy through learning execution for SAP’s nearly 90,000 employees worldwide. She is one of the pioneers of the revolution in using data to harness employee strengths and predict success, which she discusses in her books Data Driven (March 2015), which shot to #1 for new business releases on Amazon, and the newly-released The Data Driven Leader (November 2017). Dearborn is also a thought leader in human capital management, business culture, and the future of the workplace.

Published in Top Stories

e-Literate’s LMS Market Dynamics Study reveals LMS trends within higher education across four regions around the globe. Major shifts are occurring in higher education purchasing and implementation, as Cloud-based solutions and increased interoperability fuel a dynamic market. While Canvas is the fastest growing LMS worldwide, Blackboard is the second most-used system globally behind Moodle. D2L Brightspace saw the same number of implementations in 2017 as Canvas, reflecting its growing presence in North America. Europe is also much more fragmented than the U.S.A. with only one private LMS brand with more than 5% marketshare.

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Published in Trends

One in three people (34%) find it difficult to take a break from technology, even when they know they should according to a GFK study. Tech anxiety varies by country; the U.S.A. is fifth highest among 17 countries queried, with China; Brazil and Argentina have highest levels who struggle to take a tech break. People in Germany, Netherlands and Belgium lead for finding it easy to “unplug.”

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Tech anxiety also varies by demographic. Within the U.S.A., those under 40 are highly anxious with 40% or higher claiming anxiety. And 39% of those in high-income bracket report tech anxiety. There was no difference reported between women and men within the U.S.A.

Sourcehttp://www.gfk.com/global-studies/global-studies-break-from-technology/

Published in Trends

According to McKinsey, marketing is the most likely function to embrace digital transformation within the enterprise. In contrast, only 2% of supply chain members are digitizing. What is the current state of digital transformation in marketing?

A study from Technology for Marketing (TFM) and Smart Insights found that some marketers are beginning to adopt digital transformation programs to keep up with everchanging technologies and evolving consumer expectations. Roughly one-fifth (21%) of the marketers surveyed globally had already started a digital transformation program, and 9% already had one in place for two years. Meanwhile, onethird of respondents were planning to adopt a digital transformation program within the next year.

However, nearly four in 10 marketers in the survey said they had no plans to run such a program. Many may be hesitant because they haven’t clearly defined their digital marketing strategy and some are likely still figuring it out. For example, the TFM and Smart Insights found that only 6% of marketers considered their company’s digital marketing integration completely optimized.

Despite the evidence that digitization can drive productivity, competitive wins and be the differentiator in the era of data and A.I., marketing is still early in integrating and optimizing within the enterprise.

Source: eMarketer, Technology for Marketing, Smart Insights

Published in Trends

LEARNERBLY, a curated professional development SaaS platform based in London, raised £1.6 million in seed financing to create a so-called Development Management System. The round was led by Frontline Ventures, with other participants in the start-up funding round include PLAYFAIR CAPITAL, the Mayor of London’s LONDON CO-INVESTMENT FUND (LCIF), FUTURE PLANET CAPITAL and UK tech angels. It already has clients including IDEO, CARWOW, and USTWO. Learnerbly allows SMEs to manage the development of their staff using personal development planning tools which flex around their personal needs. Employees are matched to learning opportunities, and these are curated via peer-to-peer recommendations and insights from over 100 industry experts. 

Published in Deals

A.I. is hot, and money is flowing to A.I. entrepreneurs. Funding for artificial intelligence startups continues its upward trend in 2017 with investment hitting new highs. Venture, corporate and seed investors have put an estimated $3.6 billion into A.I. and machine learning companies this year, according to CrunchBase data. That’s more than they invested in all of 2016, marking the largest recorded sum ever put into the space in a comparable period.

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Forty-percent of the total investment in A.I. went to two deals. Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based developer of A.I. technology for self-driving vehicles, raised $1 billion from Ford in February. And more recently, China-based SenseTime raised $410 million to develop applications of A.I.powered deep learning technology for uses like facial recognition and image processing.

Takeaway: A.I. is hot in the investment market. Look for companies to add A.I. to their product marketing to attract investment.

Published in Latest News

Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science (SCS) has launched a new initiative, CMU AI, that marshals work in artificial intelligence (A.I.) across the school’s departments and disciplines, creating one of the largest and most experienced A.I. research groups in the world.

“For A.I. to reach greater levels of sophistication, experts in each aspect of A.I., such as how computers understand the way people talk or how computers can learn and improve with experience, will increasingly need to work in close collaboration,” says SCS Dean Andrew Moore. “CMU A. provides a framework for our ongoing A.I. research and education.”

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CMU AI harnesses more than 100 faculty members involved in A.I. research and education across SCS’s seven departments. Moore is directing the initiative with Jaime Carbonell, the Newell University Professor of Computer Science and director of the Language Technologies Institute; Martial Hebert, director of the Robotics Institute; Computer Science Professor Tuomas Sandholm; and Manuela Veloso, the Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Computer Science and head of the Machine Learning Department.

From self-driving cars to smart homes, A.I. is poised to change the way people live, work and learn. Learn more: https://www.cmu.edu

Published in Latest News

BY ALEXANDER STARRITT

For most countries in Europe and North America, driving down immigration, protecting employment for native workers, and controlling borders are becoming dominant trends in the political narrative. A fear that migrants might steal jobs and lower wages, especially in the middle of a refugee crisis, is increasingly setting the international debate.

In Sweden, however, the government has adopted a very different stance. There, new arrivals are actively encouraged into work, put on a fast-track to employment, matched with jobs in sectors where Sweden needs workers, and given training and mentoring.

This program called Snabbsparet is based on a simple formula. Newcomers who already have relevant skills and experience are given jobs in industries that are facing a shortage of workers. It’s much quicker: we can do things at the same time not a first-thing-then-wait and a second-thing-then-wait. The scheme isn’t so much a moral crusade as a win-win: migrants get meaningful jobs that suit them, and Sweden gets the skilled workers it needs, in areas ranging from catering to medicine.

“We have a huge challenge right now with all the newcomers to help them into the labor market,” Ylva Johansson, Sweden’s Ministry of Employment, explained. “But we have a lucky position: that we have a very strong economic growth and very high demand.”

Launched in 2015, the Fast Track program offers specialized career paths to migrants based on the profession in which they have experience. Most of the tracks include Swedish language coaching and on-the-job training, and all participants are given a mentor and guidance counselor. Often working in the government accommodation provided to refugees, these key workers link job seekers with employers and help them negotiate an unfamiliar recruitment system.

The tracks also tackle problems that many people don’t even realize exist. The medical Fast Track, for example, has allowed the qualifications that migrants earned in their home countries to be recognized and verified in Sweden. In the catering industry, trained chefs are now able to take workplace examinations in their first language so they can start new jobs more quickly.

One of the newest Fast Tracks, in teaching, places qualified migrants on a 26-week course covering Swedish language, educational theory, and European curriculums and standards. Because half of the course is taught in Arabic, some fear its graduates will have a poor grasp of Swedish.

The Swedish state is relatively unusual in offering migrants structured career paths: rather than offering one-off training courses and disparate opportunities, the Fast Track gives workers the direction they need to succeed.

“We can see what we’ve been lacking in Sweden is this idea of tracks,” Johansson explains. “We’ve been offering education, we’ve been offering courses, we’ve been offering practice. But we hadn’t formed the tracks and had all the stakeholders in the tracks working together.”

To make this work, she says, the most important move was to bring industry, trade unions and the third sector together with government. That has meant the fast tracks are tailored to each industry, with the support of leaders and workers. In this regard, the government has had plenty of good fortune. “We are using the fact that there are so many vacancies now,” Johansson says. “That’s why the employers are so eager to help educating and training people.”

That good luck, however, begs an important question about the Fast Track policy. It might work well in today’s Sweden when the economy is in active need of workers. But could the program work in a different context?

Johansson thinks so. “I think we can use also use this method when we have another period when there’s not such demand for jobs, but with some adjustments, of course,” she says. That would mean providing fasttrack programs for all rather than giving migrants a boost above the native population. “In a situation where there’s competition between workers towards a job we have to make tracks that would make them equal to others competing for the job.”

For now, however, the Fast Track program is so successful that the government is hoping to expand it to other areas. In the next stage of growth, the project will even train new migrants, from scratch, allowing them to take on jobs that they’re not yet qualified for and meeting the labor needs of Sweden at the same time.

Alexander Starritt is the editor of “Apolitical.

 

 

Published in Insights
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