Many job seekers want to work for companies that not only pay well and have a great benefits package but also have an awesome learning and development (L&D) program. These employees are searching for organizations that value learning and encourage professional development. Prospective team members want a chance to develop and enhance their skills while at the same time learn new technologies or further their education. Companies that are able to offer the complete package, especially the “value of learning and professional development,” are able to land the best candidates.
So, how do organizations make this happen? How do they develop something that will assist employees who want to improve their performance not only in the workplace but also in their careers? One way an organization can do this is to establish effective learning journeys.
What is a Learning Journey?
A learning journey is a series of formal and informal training programs that ingrain new knowledge, build existing skills and boost professional development. Learning journeys include different learning experiences that occur over time. They involve personalized content and a variety of delivery methods that result in new knowledge, skills, attitudes and a positive behavioral change. Employees might go through a learning journey to master their skill set, learn a new job role or to further their education. Team members who are truly engaged in the learning journey will not only build their skills but will also find purpose in the work they do.
Learning journeys are beneficial to organizations because they encourage employee engagement and professional development, while creating a culture of learning. Having an effective learning journey will facilitate behavior changes that coincide with the business goals of the organization. This will ensure the performance and productivity of the organization.
Formal and Informal Learning
A learning journey can consist of formal and informal learning. Let’s take a look at both and how each one impacts the learning journey.
Informal learning is different from formal learning because it usually takes place away from formal settings such as the classroom or lecture halls. Informal learning is valuable to both the individual and the organization because it improves collaboration, drives creativity and contributes to a strong learning culture.
Formal learning is often mandatory training that is set by the organization to comply with policies and procedures. This is the form of training employees receive during onboarding or on an annual basis. An example of this training includes diversity and culture training, timekeeping, harassment and government relations.
Developing the Learning Journey
It is essential to develop a training program that meets the meets the needs of the team and the organization. Here are some best practices to consider when creating a learning journey:
Assess Knowledge: Before creating a learning journey, leaders, managers and direct line supervisors need to sit down and assess the organization’s knowledge base and learning skills. This will create a baseline against which progress can be measured.
Identify Training/Skills Gaps: Another important step is to identify and discuss the training gaps, especially in the skill sets that are critical to the organization’s production and growth. It is essential that leadership evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of each employee relative to their and the organization’s goals and priorities.
Design Training With Goals in Mind: A learning journey should be created with the end in mind. What are the goals? How does it benefit the individual? The organization? What are the results the organization, the stakeholders and the team members want to achieve? These questions should be considered before a training program or learning journey is created.
Create a Continuous Learning Experience: A learning journey is a continuous process, not a one-time event, such as a webinar or a learning module. All aspects of the learning journey should be discussed in the planning and development process to ensure alignment between leadership and the training team. A successful learning journey depends on employee engagement and should be considered at every stage of the journey.
Evaluating the Journey
Successful learning programs are measured by employee engagement. This is why it is vital to engage with the team before, during and after the learning events. Employees going through the learning journey need to know how leaders and managers are supporting the learning process to include coaching, mentoring, empathizing and ensuring that the training is available.
Are the individual training needs being met within the organization or are resources needed from the outside? What is the career path ahead for the employee who takes part in the learning journey? What is the motivation? There are individuals who are self-motivated and want to learn a new skill or gain knowledge. However, there are others who need additional motivation; for example, a system of rewarding progress that encourages individuals to start and continue throughout the process.
Setting up Milestones
As the journey progresses, leaders and managers need to establish milestones for the team to ensure that each individual is completing their training on a timely basis. Also, it is beneficial to have a way to provide positive reminders to the team to continue with their learning journey. Leaders should also take time to meet with their employees on a regular basis to discuss the progress and to have a place for the individual to apply their new knowledge and skill and offer additional informal training to enhance their new craft.
Meeting with the team will ensure that they fully understand what they are learning, and that they’re exhibiting changes in their behavior. Employees should be given the opportunity to share what they learn by giving a presentation, participate in small group sessions or meet with supervisors so they can show their new skills. Other ways include coaching, mentorship, projects, protocols, peer learning, networking groups or simulations.
A successful learning journey is beneficial for both the employee and the organization and empowers them to meet the challenges of the rapid changes that are taking place. There are additional benefits, including building trust and creating new ways of collaboration amongst the members of the team, increasing productivity and performance, delivering lasting results and increasing retention. Leaders play a big role in the learning journey success by coaching, mentorship, having team members take part in projects, encouraging peer learning, establishing networking groups, having simulations or inviting outside speakers.