Summer, do you have to go so soon? It seems like just yesterday we were all planning a sun-splashed beach vacation or trip to the lake. While some of your employees may still be taking advantage of the last few weeks of hot weather, now is the perfect time for learning leaders to reexamine your organization's learning and development strategies to identify some areas that need extra attention for the rest of the year.
This is no time to take a vacation from your focus on talent development. Use this time to clarify your talent development strategies to align and design personalized learning experiences for your people. After all, the learning experience is a strategy, not a product.
Take the time to assess and align your learning experience strategies so that you can propel your teams into the next quarter successfully. So let's dive in while the water's still warm to get clear on how to align and design a learning experience that empowers your people to take charge of their own development journey.
Let's get personal: The link between personalized learning and performance
Before we get started, it's important to recognize that there's a strong, proven link between learning and performance, and, when it comes to implementing personalized learning, high-performing organizations, in particular, are reaping the benefits that come from the resulting improved performance.
High-performing companies are more likely to offer personalized learning to their people than other organizations, according to recent research from Brandon Hall Group. These high-performing organizations said they agreed or strongly agreed that personalized learning:
- Improves the link between learning and performance for both the individual and the organization
- Supports an employee in reaching professional goals more efficiently, and in their need for continuous development
- Helps to improve the organization's strategies, mission or vision
- Aligns with the 70:20:10 framework
Personalization already features prominently in our daily lives; we can easily recall consumer services and experiences that are tailored for our tastes and preferences. Smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home know our unique voices. Netflix suggests shows based on our previous viewing habits. Amazon and other online vendors personalize our homepage to offer products and media that we've previously expressed interest in (wish lists, anyone?) or placed in our shopping cart.
Your employees are these exact consumers who have come to expect personalized experiences in all areas of their lives – professional learning included. They're constantly asking themselves, "What's in it for me?" So it's important to align and design personalized learning experiences that not only engage your learners, but also move the needle on performance outcomes.
How to align personalized learning to employee performance outcomes
Your employees know that taking on learning and development can help them go from where they are to where they want to be. But no one wants their valuable learning opportunities to feel like an outdated laundry list that someone slapped together.
The good news is that many organizations know this, too, and are eager to create engaging learning experiences for employees. Your learners first need to understand and see the "why" behind their learning activities before they start to build a learning habit.
This is where managers need to step into the role of coach to help employees align their desired learning to their goals. Managers should check in with employees regularly in ongoing 1:1 meetings where they can discuss performance, learning and development activities, and career aspirations.
If your organization has invested in talent development software, both managers and employees should make sure to log updates such as course completions and record goal outcomes so that the program's artificial intelligence (AI) can make personalized recommendations for learning. A hyper-connected talent environment automatically makes it easier to connect the dots between learning activities and performance outcomes. Once you have a system in place that allows you to align, update and shift employee goals and learning, it's time to design a personalized employee learning experience.
Ready, set, design! How to shape a personalized learning experience
By championing personalized learning at your organization, you show employees that you understand their:
- Career aspirations
- Desire for learning that is modern and relevant
Once you've done the hard work of getting to know your employees and what they truly desire at work, you can approach their personalized employee learning experience from the perspective of a designer.
Ask yourself: How do people find learning at your company? If your organization has invested in a learning platform, is it easy to find content or register for a class? Now that you have personalized information on your employee in the form of goals, interests and career aspirations, you can apply this knowledge by designing a better learning experience with tailored learning content.
Add to this by analyzing what topics, courses and themes your people are searching for in your content library. Consider their search terms, the classes and microlearning they've already completed, and even ad-hoc discussions that have popped up between colleagues. This is valuable information you can add to your learning platform via its AI algorithm. It leverages these key insights into its resulting predictive analytics and adaptive learning. Now, when the employee logs into your learning platform, they are more likely to find real-time suggestions than canned, auto-response offerings.
There is a major difference in experience between, "Since you're working towards becoming a manager, here is a specific leadership course you might want to take," and "View a generic menu of our leadership training options."
In creating an employee experience driven by personalization, organizations can simultaneously engage learners, drive outcomes and demonstrate learning's impact on those outcomes. By making learning opportunities and experiences for employees easier to find and tailored to their unique preferences, you more fully engage them in the learning experience. And, by aligning this learning to their performance goals, you help employees show how these learning experiences support them in bringing their best to work, every day.
In your search for personalization opportunities, it can be tempting to grab at shiny new platforms or buzzy events. Instead, try tapping into employees' multiple sources of motivation to truly move the needle on learning adoption efforts.
Help employees connect the dots so they see how their learning efforts will bolster their individual quest for increased skills and responsibility. Encourage your managers to give employees time to reflect on their efforts during their 1:1 meetings. Let your people decide when and with whom they will partner to pursue training. Allow room for mistakes and learning from failure. Motivation is a powerful force! You get extra points if you can show the employee how what they're learning builds upon their current skills to support the needed competencies for tomorrow.
Deliver a personalized learning journey every step of the way
Delivering personalized learning experiences is a critical component of the learner's journey, no matter what milestone they've reached so far. It says to the employee, "I know you want a rich learning experience that is relevant and interesting."
At the same time, learning that is personalized boosts employee performance outcomes, both now and in the future. And with the end of summer on the horizon, there's still time to make personalized learning experiences a priority this year.
Ready to learn more? Check out our on-demand webinar, The Problem with the Learning Experience Today and How to Fix It to learn how to deliver personalization at scale, while maximizing learning's impact.