Have you ever watched a movie or animation in trepidation, as a character unknowingly heads towards a hole in the ground they can’t see? As the viewer, you can see the hole but there’s no way to warn the character of the impeding danger.
We’ve all been that character that’s fallen into a metaphorical hole or two, and we’ve all wished someone would have warned us about it. So, to help designers, facilitators, and learning intervention creators who are also likely to fall into these metaphorical holes, we’ve compiled a list of common traps L&D folks fall into and how to avoid them.
COMMON TRAP NUMBER 1: NOT INVOLVING THE KEY STAKEHOLDERS RIGHT FROM THE START
Typically, key business stakeholders share the business challenge they are trying to address through a learning intervention. However, access to these stakeholders could be limited or delayed due to a plethora of reasons, making it difficult as an L&D professional to design training that meets their needs.
But while we may not be able to get immediate access to stakeholders, we can ensure that we bring in the question of impact. If this intervention is to impact business results, then being able to discuss it with the key stakeholders early on the process, will go a long way in helping ensure that impact by:
- Establishing the expectations from the intervention (Return on Expectations) to help you determine the business outcomes connected to the learning intervention.
- Identifying performance barriers which may prevent learners from applying learning on the job.
- Identifying key behaviours participants must change on the job for the intervention to be successful.
COMMON TRAP NUMBER 2: TALKING THE “L&D LANGUAGE” TO BUSINESS STAKEHOLDERS
One of the discussions we have when running our Brinkerhoff Certification for High Performance Learning Journeys, is how not to talk about the methodology with business stakeholders. L&D folks often get excited about certain methodologies, trends, and tools and then try to “sell” that to business stakeholder when the next training requirement pops up. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, we need to be mindful of what we’re “selling”. A cool, new approach to training might not appeal as much to business stakeholder, as perhaps “a performance-based solution” or a “less time in the classroom approach”.
COMMON TRAP NUMBER 3: NOT TREATING TIME AWAY FROM THE JOB AS A PRECIOUS RESOURCE
Let’s assume that one of the business stakeholders wants you to design and facilitate an influencing skills training program for her team. Do our brains immediately go into our archive and try to see if we have a standard format half/full day VILT or ILT training program? How much time do we spend trying to see how we can get the participants to learn influencing through the flow of their natural work? Time away from the job is a precious resource that we, L&D folks, get from our participants. Its therefore falls to us to determine how best to use this precious resource. Should this time be used for a lecture, or would it be more efficient to covert that content into a webinar or video? Time in the classroom should be used efficiently, only for those elements which can’t be effectively executed through other asynchronous mediums.
One of the ways in which we can make this work, is to make learning part of the workflow. This EY article expounds on this concept- “Today we can observe that, although the skills gap is one of the main concerns of business leaders, the workforce only has limited time available to dedicate to learning. This means that L&D needs to make learning more accessible and prioritize certain learning interventions over others. Briefly, L&D needs to think about how learning can be integrated in the flow of work, so that the workforce and business is able to grow as much as possible given shorter, faster, and integrated learning.”
COMMON TRAP NUMBER 4: TRAINING IS THE ANSWER TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS
A lot has already been written about this common trap, but we felt it was worth mentioning again. We stopped being called training departments and became learning and development instead, but is our mindset still stuck in training? Not all business or organizational challenges can be solved with training programs, irrespective of how effectively they are designed.
There are times when the answer is a process change, a culture shift or resource re-allocation. Irrespective of whether we’re internal or external L&D folks, these are conversations we shouldn’t shy away from.
Can you create a training program to train team members to give feedback to their managers? Sure, you can do that. But if you have an environment where the managers aren’t open to hearing this feedback from their team members, no amount of training is going to help! This is a deep-rooted culture issue that can’t be resolved by training the team members. Systemic cultural changes will need to be driven before an intervention such as this will be successful.
We recognise that this might bring up questions about our credibility or relevance, but in the long run, we become trusted partners to the organization, by not solely relying on the “training magic wand”.
These are some of the common traps we’ve experienced and wanted to highlight. Have you fallen prey to any of them? Are there any that we’ve missed out on? Talk to us in the comments.
And the next time we see one of our colleagues heading towards these holes in the ground, let’s call it out before it’s too late!