Opportunities for learning organisations

On June 7, 2018, Tom Haak, Director of the HR Trend Institute, delivered a speech on “HR trends and the opportunities for learning organisations”. Although some people seem to be tired of trends (which Tom included in the transcript of his presentation), we focus on the opportunities that trends present. Here’s a summary of these opportunities for learning organisations.

Opportunities for learning organisations

1. Personalisation

The most important long-term trend is personalisation. It is related to the employee experience. Tom has labelled this trend “From Please the Boss to Employee Intimacy”. Do organisations really take the effort, to get to know their co-workers? What do people aspire? What are their capabilities, what do they want to learn? Generally, organisations do not take a real effort.

Personalisation means that co-workers are treated as individuals. Most learning takes place on-the-job. Tailored to the individual needs, a wide variety of, often digital, micro-learning solutions is offered.

2. Selecting for the future

Based on research by the University of Kent, Headway Recruitment made a nice infographic summarising the skills that are best suited for the (short term) future. As some of these skills are not so easy to develop, it is worthwhile to take them into account when selecting new people.

Skills development

3. New organisational shapes

For HR, and learning and development, a key question is: who do you consider to be in scope for your activities? Only the people on the payroll, or also all the other people who contribute to the organisation (contractors, consultants, students, alumni etc). When organisations work with self-managed teams, there is an opportunity for HR to give shape to the important role of personal coaching (see also 14, performance consulting).

4. From individuals to teams and networks

Teams are the main building blocks of most organisations. Learning and development is probably the part of HR that gives most attention to teams. In some organisations, HR professionals are transforming into agile coaches. Organisational Network Analysis (ONA) is a technique that can be very helpful in the learning and development domain.

5. From positions to roles

The slow shift has been going on for years now. The Tayloristic organisation, where everybody has a clearly defined and assigned job, often does not work so well. Especially when the assignments are not so clearly defined, more flexibility is required. The jobs become more flexible, and employees get the opportunity to craft their own job, to make the best fit with their wishes, needs and capabilities.

6. Micro vs macro learning

Learning content is more and more made available in small chunks. Microlearning is related to the trend from just-in-case to just-in-time learning: you learn new skills and knowledge best when you really need it and can apply it immediately.

7. Real ‘on-the-job’ training

It makes a difference if an employee must search actively for a learning module that he or she needs, or that the module is offered at an appropriate moment in the workflow, based on real time observations of the behaviour the employee. If there is a meeting with company X in your diary, your personal learning aid might ask: “Do you want to learn more about company X?”. If you are stuck in designing a difficult Excel macro, the Excel chatbot asks you: “Can I help you to design the macro?”. The solutions become even better if the level of your capabilities is considered.

8. The Learning Experience (LEX)

The employee experience has many facets. The learning experience is one of them. How do employees experience learning and development? Do they feel an individual approach? Are the learning activities and the learning tools up-to-date and are current technologies used?

9. Speed!

Many HR practices were designed in the last century, when many things were a lot slower than today.
Have you adapted and redesigned your practices? An annual personal development plan is probably not very helpful when it comes to being faster.

10. Granular feedback and 11. Smart technology

Football clubs track their players almost 24/7. On the field, during the training, and while they are sleeping. The data is used to give the players feedback they can use to improve their performance. The combination of data gathered by intelligent devices combined with the observations of the trainers, increases the quality of the feedback.
Gathering real-time data on the individual performance of co-workers is still not widely used. There are privacy issues, and if the data is misused by the employer the trust of the employees goes down. Making sure the data is only used for development can help. Using individual trackers in the workplace will increase, and if the organisation does not provide them, employees will bring their own (such as a FitBit or the Apple Watch).

12. Chatbots

Chatbots are rapidly entering the HR domain, also in learning and development. The chatbot as the interface between employee and learning solutions. “I see you are struggling to complete this article? Can I help?”.

13. Social Learning and Working Out Loud

Social Learning uses the principal that people can learn and change their behaviour by observing others. With the current technologies, you can observe many more people than the people who are close to you in the office.
Working Out Loud is a concept (or a movement) developed by John Stepper. The basics: you work in a transparent way, share your knowledge, connect to other people and develop new relationships, and learn from your new connections.

14. Performance Consulting

Especially for development purposes, feedback needs to be very specific. I think it is too ambitious to expect all team leaders to be able to give high quality feedback. Maybe it is better to rely on people who have really developed this skill. These performance consultants can be very helpful, especially in helping top performers to become better.

15. Workplace nudging

Wikipedia defines nudging as follows: “Nudge is a concept in behavioural science, political theory and economics which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behaviour and decision making of groups or individuals. Nudging contrasts with other ways to achieve compliance, such as education, legislation or enforcement”.
An example of workplace nudging: an organisation wants to improve the collaboration between different departments. They could have designed a workshop: “Cross-functional collaboration”. Instead, they chose to redesign the office interior in such a way (more open space, only one coffee corner per floor etc.) that the employees from the different departments inevitably had more ‘casual encounters’.

16. Learning Analytics and prescriptive analytics

Continuous measurement is also the norm in the learning and development area. Measure, measure, measure. Most organisations are still at the first maturity level of people analytics (reporting). Predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics are the holy grail for many.

17. Fun

Working and learning can be a lot more fun. Using gamification in learning and development is becoming more main stream.

18. power to the people

Many learning and development initiatives are initiated by the organisation. Often the approach is top-down. What do new employees need to learn? What is the knowledge we expect all the people on this level to have? How can we disseminate the global health & safety standards? Often the approach is not only top-down, but also very generic. Learning solutions are designed for groups of people, and not tailored to the individual needs, wishes and learning styles of individual employees. Employees will start to look for solutions that can help them to become better. Not only for their current assignment, but also for future assignments (perhaps at a different employer).

Read the full article here

Read also:
Your company is agile. Your work is mobile. How about your training?
The things you see in a high-impact learning organisation
As far as the course is concerned, you are the class
The reality of learning today: minutes per week

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