6 ways to improve the value of your learning - Sally Ann Moore

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Sally Ann Moore May 2015

1. Focus on results, rather than training

An organisation is a value added system, bringing together people, processes, and products that equal more than the sum of their respective parts.

That is how profit is made. So if you want to improve performance in a business, you need to understand the value-added process within that organisation. To do so, you need to talk to key people in the company and understand the results they aim to achieve. When meeting with managers, don’t ask about their training needs, and instead ask how performance within the company can be improved. Uncover the underlying value-added system and strengthen their commitment.

2. Make an effort to learn

If we aim for 100% competence at work, where is the effort in e-learning?

  • 10% — from “I know”
  • 20% — from “I can do it”

But a massive effort is needed to become proficient on the job:

  • 70% of “I adapt and apply”

The danger is that large training budgets are often the exact opposite:

  • 70% devoted to formal training,
  • 20% learning-based activities
  • and only 10% at the critical point, “Adapt and apply” — which involves mentoring, coaching and, above all, evaluation of performance.

3. Focus on activities, rather than skills

I am not opposed to skill sets, though what adds value is not the competence, but the work activity itself . Because knowledge is lost very quickly, organisations need people who can adapt and apply their skills and experience on activities that make a difference. Consequently, training should focus on skills, knowledge, and activities that make a difference, but it should involve a lot of application. Therefore, training services have a clear role in promoting performance, as well as promoting and ensuring behavioural change in the workplace.

4. Monitor your business statistics

Improving skills and knowledge helps increase the performance of companies and not the results. This is often fundamentally misunderstood. A lot of training departments measure indicators such as attendance, completion rates, and the quiz scores. However, none of them are business results. You need to prove your value goes through the improvement of business-oriented measurement indicators. You need a systemic analysis of the business requirement and focus on the results required. For example, at Sophia Antipolis, in a systems integration service where there were more than 1,000 project managers, many of these projects were in perpetual delay because of their cost, specifications and lack of time. Our objective was to reach zero timeout, zero budget overrun and zero overshoot specifications. We have therefore built a core competency-based training program and we have implemented a joint program to support a changing behaviour. The success of the program has not been measured on the training of delivery, but on the achievement of “zero overruns”. Basically, what you measure is what you get.

5. Set up a balanced scorecard

Everything in life is a matter of balance. It is not enough to examine the attendance or scores of an evaluation. Training departments should develop an approach based on a balanced scorecard. How have trade results changed, how have we changed the value of the company by adding processes, what about customer satisfaction …

Remember, what you measure is what you get. The infamous story of the Sydney city railway company illustrates this perfectly: when a customer survey showed that the on-time performance of trains needed to be improved, human resources provided teams that ensure that train arrival times are respected. Sadly, they ended up annoying the users even more, because while the trains arrived in time, they did not stay long enough in the stations to let all the passengers board! What you measure is what you get. You need a map of this table to take into account the value of shareholders or the balance sheet, the perception of the customer, the process of adding key value, and the rate of innovation and learning.

6. Select “squirrels”: train the right people in the right place

If you want to climb a tree, it is better to hire a squirrel than to form a turkey. Basically, not everything is dependent on training. Talent management is about choosing the right people for the right role and training them to increase their skills for this specific role. E-learning allows and opens courses to everyone, even to people unqualified or unfit for certain roles. This is a major cause of low completion and negative perceptions of e-learning.

If we go back to the period when Microsoft experienced a shortage of computer skills, the company developed a range of free courses at the Microsoft Online Institute to obtain MSCE and MSD certification (with a salary increase!). Many people have subscribed, but there was only a completion rate of 15%, because 85% of these candidates did not have the base or ability to solve computer problems. There is no pre-selection of candidates. It is imperative for training departments to understand and apply this global talent management process.

Joséphine Misson

Joséphine Misson

Josephine is marketing manager at Wooclap. Cupcake guru and chief happiness officer in her spare times, you will also find her stuffing her coworkers’ bellies with plenty of delicious treats.