Dr. Rajini Sriraman, India Head - Learning & Organization Development, Hospira
We are at a juncture where we can boldly say that the field of learning and development has come of age. It has reached a point of maturity and the field has become the strategic partner of the business leaders. The learning leaders are also called as learning business partners in a few organizations. Learning and development drive people strategy in one organization and employee engagement in another. It manages employee retention in one and influences performance management in another. L&D has become all pervasive and guides the way forward for most business houses.
10 years ago learning was at the mercy of the employees and was left to the whims and fancies of the learner. This kind of trend reduces speed and agility of an organization. Neuroscience has also proved that continuous learning improves cognition and positively impacts performance. Learning and development managers focus on providing a blended platform that offers variety and differentiated experience to the learner. When the learner sees value and is excited about learning, he/she continues to learn.
The new trend being learning has become highly people centric and need driven. It is useful to do it as it quickly entices the learner and learning stays for long. To make learning a sustainable component of organizational strategy, learning leaders have to invest ample time understanding the business of their organizations and defining the learning strategy based on business needs. Aligning learning strategy with organizational and business strategy has become the most compelling priority for learning leaders.
The most interesting of all is mammoth development in the field of e-learning or online learning. This caters to the multiple requirements of learners. People can plan and execute the learning at their own pace and at the most preferred time with this versatile option of e-learning. The learner has a huge opportunity to access variety of courses within his field of specialization and those that are outside his/her core areas. This provides an added value of getting cross-skilled as well. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) like Coursera are boon to the current learners’ community. Coursera offers courses from areas of poetry to probability and on completion, the learners earn a prestigious Stanford or Wharton certification. Coursera offers end-to-end online driven post graduate degrees in management from high profile international universities. E-learning puts the learner on a continuous learning mode.
With multiple modes and variety of learning options, it is important and imperative for L&D managers to offer continuous learning to their employees. Micro learning is something that I would personally recommend. Micro-learning is an effort to present learning in small chunks. This could be shared on a mailer or showcased on employee notice boards as well. I have experienced reasonable success with micro learning. I have used micro learning to build awareness about the e-learning courses across my organization. Such efforts will positively impact employee engagement and improve learning participation as well.
Learning effectiveness is the key to establishing validity and reliability of learning and credibility of the learning system as a whole. Establishing effectiveness at Kirk-Patrick 3rd level – impacting behavior has become a hygiene requirement for the organization. Certain degree of behavioral change is required to authenticate the efforts and resources invested in learning.
Leader-teach program is a very useful tool to keep learning upbeat in the organization. This will create instant attraction for the learner and will directly create high positive commitment from the learner. Leader-teach program provide a unique opportunity for the leader to understand and empathize with the team and introspect on the leadership capability as well. The key deliverable of leader-teach program is a high volume learning impact.
Making learning a virtuous experience is the hallmark of matured, learning and growing organizations:
These organizations offer a world class experience of learning that gradually ushers the learner into the new avenue of selected skills, attitudes and behaviors. This creates a rewarding flow in the minds of learner and reinforces the right behaviors.
Blending learning with appropriate systems, processes and tools is the key to organizational learning and transformation.