The HR Challenge: Analyze Your Corporate Training Needs

corporate-classroom

If there is one thing that holds true for developing eLearning training materials, it’s planning, planning and planning. You can’t go wrong with that one. Think of a training course a result of relentless hard work and dedication. In fact, it’s not uncommon to spend 40 hours to develop a course to yield only 2 hours of training time.

With this perspective, we need to make sure we plan in detail, we plan with all details and we rule out unnecessary details. In short, make the planning stage the longest step in eLearning course design! Wow, that’s a lot of pressure! But it’s true. Think of all the trainings left untouched or uncompleted in your learning management system. Why, despite hiring the best eLearning consultants and even applying your own training management skills, some courses never make it to better testimonials and performance spikes? What key steps need to be executed in the planning stage to ensure the effectiveness and success of your corporate training materials?

Let’s find out and try it for ourselves!

The Real Heroes: Human Resources

The human resource department has a rich information on each employee, their aspirations and their needs. It can also aid in revealing the bottom line of your organization – the immediate and long-term growth goals and current potential. Leverage your training material planning phase with an HR personnel.

Determine Organization Business Processes

The HR of your organization is the correct place to start analyzing your corporate training needs. Discuss the corporate functional and operational strategy. Are there any changes made recently? Create a concise training strategy statement with the aid of HR personnel responsible for policy and manual development.

Any latest research and development that would affect your corporate strategy? What about defining the type of business processes dominantly engaged by your organization? Are you a product oriented, a service oriented or a performance oriented organization?

Narrow down your organization activities in this way. This will help determine the type of training you need to develop. For instance, technical training usually needs simulations, service improvement training usually need scenario-based decision making, and product training requires detailed tutorials on the product.

Determine Performance Needs

When we talk about performance, the first tool that comes to mind are the KPI’s (key performance indicator). The HR department will have a list of updated KPIs that need to be integrated into training materials.

KPIs quantitatively measure the performance of the employees, for example, number of customers per month, number of products sold per month, number of complaints handled per month, number of lost registrations per month, etc. These figures hold valuable input for your planning phase.

What will the employees do after completing the course? How will their learning affect the KPIs? Aligning training goals with corporate KPIs is the smartest way to create effective eLearning material.

Determine Employee Performance

Most training crash upon launching because they are only organization focused. Omitting the individual learning needs of your employees during the planning phase will cost you in the long-run. It is the employees who will inspire other employees to take the training.

Analyze the employee training barriers – what factors prevent them to train on time? Is the content relevant to their job description? If not, have you explained the value of the extra content? Is the content organization violating the cognitive overload theory (providing too much information in one screen).  Are you “showing” most of the time as compared to “telling”? Does your content have engaging multi-media and intelligent interactive components? Are you providing training incentives (recognition, awards, online mentoring opportunity etc?).

Remember, your aim is to boost employee performance and organization-wide ROI (return on investment). Keep into account the adult learning theories that describe the effective methods of tackling training programs. Determine the performance of the employees (As evaluated by managers post-training) and measure it with corporate performance needs. Is there a gap? What areas does the gap specify?

Custom-tailor your training materials according to these gaps. Not only will your training development efforts remain focused, your training materials will be targeted and relevant to both the employee and the organization.

Develop Corporate Training Strategy

This is the most crucial step in training analysis and planning phase. After uncovering the above-mentioned information, create a formal Corporate Training Strategy. Involve all stakeholders who are the key enablers in approving the budget for the training materials. A Corporate Training Strategy is a dynamic training philosophy that reflects the business practices, business culture, external environment, laws, policies and innovative technologies/practices.

Needless to say, the Corporate Training Strategy is a result of extensive research and analysis and rigorous peer reviewed document. Make it your cardinal rule to refer to this document before developing any training materials.

Determine Delivery Methods

Ensure your training delivery is mobile and laptop friendly. Take into account the language and jargon barriers. Translate and provide glossary whenever possible. Depending on the trainees, determine their technology preference.

Are they too busy with meetings and unexpected calls to attend structured, blended training? Will they prefer asynchronous learning materials? What has worked in the past? Did you gather any explicit trainings preferences through surveys? Are your trainees game-oriented? Maybe ice-breakers and case-studies will motivate and engage them into the training. Maybe it’s a puzzle or a mystery they need to solve as group. Maybe team development and team trust is the main issue that prevents success in training.

Understanding and empathizing with group and team-level needs will help determine training delivery preferences. Above all, check with your organization resources. What learning management system is in place and does it support blended and online learning? Most employees enjoy talking about their learning experience. Channel this productive talk using the collaborative features of your LMS. Observe and mentor communications based on newly acquired training. Determine what needs to go into the training material in order to improve it for the next iteration.

Planning and improving training in iterations is the sure-fire method to power up trainings that yield performance.

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eLearning for Human Resources Management

corporate-learning

One cannot think of the human resource management (HRM) as a beacon of eLearning without thinking of “human” at an individual level. The HR department is responsible for the employee’s well-being. It is also responsible for bridging the communication between the organization and the employees. At the strategic level, the organizational management works towards continuous change to meet the dynamic needs of the market. The human resource management strives to convey this need for change to the employees to implement at the operational level.

Organizational change is mandatory to meet and exceed the market share. Managing this change is a highly challenging feat. While training and professional development is the natural step towards change, it more often fails to enforce the desired change. Despite the best laid plans that include aligning organizational KPIs with learning objectives in trainings, holding meetings for the change and propagating incentives for change, the organizational cultures still seem undeterred.

This brings us back to the human part of the human resource management. How can the HRM influence the human brain to adapt and adopt to the desired changes through eLearning and knowledge sharing? Change needs to begin at the individual level to reflect the change in the organizational culture. Think hard skills and soft skills of the organization. Hard skills are the policies, procedures, administration protocols and data handling strategies deeply ingrained into the organizational skills. Soft skills are the mind-set, the approach, the trust level, the confidence and the motivational strategies communicated within the organization through its employees.

Change begins by altering the hard and soft skills of an organization. eLearning trainings prescribed usually target these skills. Despite the best eLearning strategies in terms of being both organizational and employee centered, change is still yet to be seen.

Why?

Think of the human brain practicing the hard and soft skills as a comfortable habit. Each skill, whether it is conflict resolution, problem analysis, decision making or work flow planning is executed at the brain cell – the neuron level. A skill becomes a natural habit when it is practiced with ease and smoothness. The neurons responsible for this skills have branched and attached to other neurons to promote efficiency for these skills.

If these branched neurons join a neural superhighway, the skill becomes automatic and involuntary. In order to change this habit or unlearn the skill, the individual will need to exercise conscious control over these involuntary activities. This is often met with reluctance, discomfort and procrastination. But if the individual is convinced on why the change is necessary and how it will add value to them, the brain-pathways can be altered slowly and steadily through motivating incentives and reinforcement through practice.

The challenge of the HRM is to convince the employee why they need to change. And how eLearning will help them perform better. Old habits die hard. To maintain this change, opportunities to apply the newly acquired learning will be needed at a constant pace.

Consider this example:

Despite top notch eLearning training successfully administered to a sales team, sales figures were still scraping the ground floor. The management decided to run a survey in which they asked key questions to determine the attitude of these salesmen. The results revealed two underlying mindsets that were sabotaging performance.

First, these salesmen perceived online sales more efficient than in-store selling. They felt less motivated to convince shoppers. Secondly, they believed the younger shopper was keener on the products than a senior one. They felt less motivated to convince the senior shoppers. Online and in-store sales analytics revealed otherwise.

The challenge now for the human resource managers was not only convince the salesmen that the gap existed but also to convince them that it was their mindset that created a performance gap. Changing attitude towards performance is a precursor to behavior change desired through eLearning training.

Here is how eLearning for human resources management can induce change and give better ROI and performance through trainings for its organization:

Identify Attitude towards Performance 

Discover the true mindset of employees towards their performance. Do they have any complaints? Any preconceived notions? Any biases? Any trust issues? Any differences and disagreements with how things should be done? Before employees can master a new skill through training, they need to be convinced that a gap exists due to their behavior or attitude. By changing their attitude their performance would improve and help the organization grow.

Match eLearning content with performance gap

On discovering the performance gap AND analyzing the attitude of the learner towards performance, redesign the content to eradicate anomalies. Encourage better performing peers to shadow and mentor learners to help them realize their setbacks. Highlight the strengths and weakness of the learners and enable them to internalize the training content.

Start with the leaders

For change to be effective through eLearning trainings, involve leaders as a starting point. Both in developing eLearning content and applying it on work context. A change that begins from leaders is infectious and cascades smoothly to all levels of the department. Employees feel more compelled to internalize trainings adopted by their leaders.

Reinforce the new skills

The most important part of change is reinforcing it. Learners will forget the best lecture by celebrity speakers within a week, if they are not provided with opportunities to practice new skills. Support for new behavior is very important after training. The human resource management needs to be especially alert during the post training period to ensure performance reflects new skills. There is nothing worse in knowledge development than unlearning an acquired skill. Regular checks to ensure learning is applied is mandatory to develop new habits. The HRM must offer a valuable follow up service after eLearning trainings.

Measure eLearning Impact 

This last step really ties eLearning trainings into a complete and effective package. Measuring impact is crucial to calculate ROI and KPI. Measuring impact analyzes how close performance is to organizational strategy. It also makes way to new eLearning programs and improves existing programs.

References

October 2010, Aaron DeSmet, Monica McGurk, and Elizabeth Schwartz. Getting More From Your Training Programs, Retrieved from, http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/getting_more_from_your_training_programs

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