Traditional workplaces are changing. Employees are working remotely more than ever and have access to almost any information at their fingertips. The expectations of how workers want to learn are changing as well. To adapt, training managers are being tasked with transforming the training function from traditional course-based systems to those that balance classroom and online courses with informal learning experiences such as coaching and on-the-job training.
Before embarking on the process of transformation, we must know what we are transforming to. To help you envision what your transformed training function should look like, refer to a very old principle of training – one that we fundamentally understand but often gets lost in how we do things. It is the principle of “time to proficiency” (T2P) – also referred to as time to competency.
Our research has taught us that organizations that operate an integrated system of learning solutions that focus on getting a learner from an entry level of core skills to a targeted level of proficiency as fast and inexpensively as possible is one that can better measure results and demonstrate impact to the business. Alternatively, we have found that organizations that focus on building mini school houses with topic-based curriculums allowing learners to pick and choose what training they desire often struggle with how to measure impact and meet the expectations of the business and the learner.
How do we use the T2P model to envision our transformed training function? First, we must understand the seven elements of T2P that impact a learner’s ability to get to a targeted level of proficiency as fast and inexpensively as possible. Then, we can design a system that controls the variation of each element. The more we control these elements, the faster and less costly we can be at achieving targeted performance. The more variation and less structured we are around each, the higher the probability that it will take longer and have higher cost. Here are those seven elements:
- Expected Level of Core Skills: Be clear as to what entry level skills are expected of new workers and hire based on those skills.
- Process for Onboarding: Prior to starting a new role, workers need knowledge and skills to do the job autonomously. Designing a controlled onboarding experience minimizes risk of failure while on the job.
- Expected Skill Level at Point of Autonomy: Autonomy is that point where a worker leaves onboarding and performs the job on their own. Defining the expected skills necessary for a worker to do the job on their own is critical to controlling workplace errors and risk of failure.
- Process for Formalizing Informal Learning: Informal learning allows the learner to continue to evolve based on job experiences. Formalizing an approach to on-the-job training and ongoing structured learning programs is necessary for continuous development.
- Process for Reinforcement: To minimize the effect of forgetting on the job, design reinforcement activities into the learning system, such as access to performance support content and structured learning interventions to reinforce critical skills and knowledge.
- Targeted Skill Level When Proficient: Be clear as to the targeted skill level expected of successful workers. This is the ultimate goal to get a worker to this level as fast and inexpensively as possible.
- Process for Upskilling: All jobs change over time. Managing “retraining” or upskilling of jobs for new tools, processes and performance expectations is critical to ongoing success.
From where I sit, understanding what we are transforming to is just as important as understanding the process for transformation. You can’t transform successfully without understanding what you are transforming to. By spending time on understanding the concept of time to proficiency, we will have a much clearer vision of our next generation training function.