Many companies consider the learning and development function to be a separate, standalone entity. Learning managers and instructional designers are thought to have unique skill sets not shared or even sought out by others across the organization, and managers and employees generally believe that any learning initiative must originate with the L&D department.
This is rapidly changing. Two reasons why the traditional way of thinking is quickly becoming obsolete include:
(1) L&D can't do it all. The rapid obsolescence of skills in the workplace, in addition to the growing complexity of skills needed for employees to do their jobs, means that departments and employees within an organization need to exert greater control over their own learning in order to stay competitive.
(2) New software platforms and methodologies, such as a Learning Design System, have delivered to organizations the ability to convert technical content to training material, allowing anyone to design and build effective courses rapidly and at scale.
To address these learning and cultural gaps, we've outlined 6 steps your company can take to break down the silos which are impeding your organization's learning efforts.
(1) Create awareness of L&D
Employees working in large, geographically dispersed, or blended (remote, contract) environments are often unaware that the learning function even exists inside their organization. Learning leaders need to establish a greater presence and position themselves as a trusted ally to all employees, committed to the long-term success of the organization.
(2) Crowdsource training ideas
As we've written before, L&D should be on the ground trying to understand what types of courses are most needed. To facilitate the process, learning leaders can crowdsource training requests, perhaps via digital questionnaires, to get a better understanding of needs across the organization. Employees should feel empowered to communicate their needs, and feel that their voices are heard and can lead to the creation and delivery of courses they need.
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(3) Scout for—and befriend—subject matter experts
The content of your courses comes from your organization's subject matter experts (SMEs). Identify them, and engage others to help you identify them, early on in a learning project, as their input is crucial for the content. SMEs also need to feel that their input will lead to a specific outcome; as such, they should be engaged throughout the entire lifecycle of a learning project.
(4) Get HR involved
Employee performance should be tied to learning in several ways. For their employees, managers can include the completion of particular learning modules or attainment of certain skills as a measure of job performance; managers can also quantify improved performance as a result of training. SMEs can have course development as one of their job requirements, and even job ads can include course writing as a requirement.
(5) Get IT involved
Ensure that all employees are enabled to carry out training on whatever device, endpoint, or platform they prefer. Alert your IT managers or service providers to ensure that there are no roadblocks to employee learning. For example, data usage limits may be set on mobile devices as part of a corporate IT policy, which must be addressed if employees are watching learning videos.
(6) Establish feedback loops
Building and delivering learning should not proceed in only one direction. To ensure the success of your programs, constantly seek feedback from your learners, your learners' managers, SMEs, HR, IT, senior management—anyone who has had some level of involvement in your programs. Your learning platform should be able to accommodate continuous feedback, and include a mechanism for addressing any gaps in quality.
According to Inc. magazine, employees spend 1 percent of their week on training. Rather than have them view training as a necessary evil, demonstrate its relevance to their role, the company, and even the greater industry. When employees feel empowered, the organization will, too.