Strategic content is one of the keystones of an impactful learning and development (L&D) program. It contributes to learner participation levels, how well employees engage with L&D, how well they retain information and how they apply what they've learned to their everyday work. A well-executed video course with helpful graphics, interactive checks and quizzes, and a well-spoken instructor makes a major difference compared to learning using a simple slide deck and a test.
The importance of quality of learning content is undeniable. But what good is quality learning content if you aren't teaching the right things to the right people at the right time?
Your learning content needs to link to a business-focused outcome. It's important to offer your employees a wide variety of content to improve their skills (and develop new ones), but you aren't going to make progress on your business goals if you decide to provide graphic design lessons to your legal team.
So, how do you choose the right learning content for your people?
Follow Your North Star: Start With Your Organization's Loftiest Goals
To get things started, we need a "North Star," a "dot-on-the-wall," a "raison-d'être." We're talking about a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (for a full BHAG breakdown, check out this awesome video from Fistful of Talent's Kris Dunn). These lofty goals set the grand direction for your organization. They help determine your business objectives within a given time period.
Your BHAGs establish a clear starting point for determining how to invest in specific learning content. For example, are you trying to be leaders in a particular market? Then you'd want to educate your people on the intricacies of the market itself. Or if you're trying to nurture a particular type of workplace culture, offer training that helps emphasize certain necessary core competencies!
Go for the Goal: Tie Learning Objectives to Specific Organizational Objectives
More than 78 percent of learning organizations identified "aligning the learning strategy with the business" as a critical 2018 priority, according to a recent Brandon Hall Group study. And it makes sense. After all, the outcome of employee learning isn't knowledge, it's performance
This process will almost mirror the search for learning content that aligns with your organization's BHAGs, but we're going to delve much deeper into the nitty-gritty. Seek out content that's in service of the various departmental goals found around your organization. For instance, if your HR department wants to improve its success rate in retaining high-potential employees, you might want to offer and promote learning content that contributes to developing core leadership competencies as part of an emerging leaders program to prepare them for when the next opportunity comes along.
Keep It Real: Link to Practical Business Outcomes
Choosing learning content is not a set-it-and-forget-it situation. It needs to be iterative. Try to track your learning investment in relation to real-life business outcomes. For every "batch" of learning content you make available to your employees, continue to link the courses to a number of business outcomes, as appropriate. Take the above example of providing HR with content focused on creating emerging leader/leadership development programs. It may seem obvious to link this investment to the intended outcome of retaining more HiPo employees, but it's important to make sure that you're actually tracking the outcomes versus the efforts.
For a deeper explanation behind this type of measurement, check out a recent blog post by rewards and performance management expert David Creelman, "A Better Way to Approach the ROI of Training"
As we mentioned above, the outcome of learning is not increased knowledge. It's increased performance. So being able to see if your learning and development content is leading to its intended outcome is perhaps the most important element of your entire learning content strategy. Double down where you see successes and see if that success continues to increase. Don't forget that it's an iterative process, so you'll learn from any initial shortcomings as you experiment with different learning content approaches as needed.
Keep Going: Learn More About How to Create a High-Impact Learning Content Strategy
We recently teamed up with our brainy friends from OpenSesame to create a brand-new ebook about the best practices when developing a learning content strategy. Download "4 Practices For Creating A High-Impact Learning Content Strategy" today!
And if you missed our webinar on the same topic, check it out on-demand here: