Training is an important part of any company business plan and the learning strategy requires careful thought into the needs of both the company and its employees. Employees depend on having ways to advance in the company and companies need to make sure their employees are prepared to do their jobs.
If you are ready to establish learning strategies or revitalize the learning environment in your company, the following steps will help:
1. Identify the Organization's Highest Priority Goals and Objectives
Your learning strategies will need to support the overall business objectives of your company. It will be important to identify high priority business objectives that can be addressed with a learning strategy. Some of these objectives may include recommendations for:
- Guiding a company from a product-based mentality towards a customer service-based mentality
- Keeping employees in step with explosive growth and expanding to new markets
- Decentralizing to become more efficient and agile as a company
- Improving comprehension and implementation of regulatory demands
It’s important to get a broad understanding of the company needs in order to create an overarching learning development philosophy and learning strategy. It is most helpful to plan a brainstorm meeting for at least half the work day, inviting stakeholders from all departments. In order to do this, you will need to identify the key stakeholders.
2. Identify Key Stake Holders
It’s important to know who the learning material is going to effect. Of course, the learner is probably the first stakeholder that comes to mind when you think about the course, but there are other members who are affected (albeit indirectly) by the content and success level of your curriculum and process. By identifying key stake holders, or those with a vested interest of some kind, you can begin to consider the full spectrum of the audience you are really writing for.
Leadership – One of the first groups to consider is the higher levels of management that will benefit from productive training courses. You will have to consider how the curriculum can benefit the company leadership and department heads, making their jobs easier and expressing information that syncs with their goals and strategies.
These are going to be important stakeholders for your learning strategy meeting. They will understand the goals of the company they find most important and can provide insight into their department or training processes. If you are going to get everyone on the same page with training, you will need to first find out how training is currently being done in the company.
Managers – Those who currently train are important to your strategy. Often, companies will use experienced employees to provide training session for new hires. If this is the case, you will need to know the current process and work to formalize it.
Regulatory Parties – Compliance is a major factor for many companies, so you will need to take into consideration the different compliance requirements for your company. From health code to workplace safety, curriculum needs to include the appropriate language in accordance to the compliance regulations.
Participants – Of course, the learners themselves are a huge factor to consider when writing a learning strategy. You will want to factor in education levels, learning tendencies and attention span of your audience. You will want to ensure that the company goals are being clearly communicated to learners and the materials are getting them prepared to do their jobs in line with the quality expectations of the company, industry and customers.
You will have to consider what employees expect from your company and how you can offer programs that continue to encourage professional development. While every learner is different, your goal should be to appeal to a vast majority of your audience. Blended learning is one of the best ways to accomplish effective instruction with learners of all types.
Customers – The learning strategy will ultimately affect your customers, so they will also qualify as a stakeholder. It may be smart to get customer opinions with polls, social listening tools or testimonials to understand areas where your company might improve their experience. The learning strategy should take into account what the customer needs and may even include learning resources for the customer, if it is warranted.
3. Align Learning Processes With the Business Goals and Objectives
It is now important to consider your methods of training. You may use online training, printed resources, one-on-one training or instructor-based group training to train employees.
Look at the benefits and downsides to each method and consider the best ways the training methods will fit with your desired results and content. Some methods offer multiple mediums to work with, such as video, audio lecture, slideshow, hands-on and illustrative training methods. Some methods are more pressure-filled for the learner, while others are more flexible. For your learning strategy, you will need to explain why you have chosen specific training methods and how they will directly deal with the goals and strategies you have already laid out.
4. Define Learning Resources and Learning Plans that Guide Employees to Deliver on Business Goals and Strategies
Once you’ve established the specific training methods you will want to use, you will need to define the specifics.
- What platform are you suggesting the company use?
- Will additional funds be needed?
- What courses will be initially written?
- What courses will be written in the upcoming months or years?
Your strategy should include a short-term and long-term vision for your program. In order to show the value and ROI of the training program, you will need to write a business case.
5. Create a Business Case for Implementing the E-Learning Strategies
We’ve already written about how to create a business case to justify E-Learning. You will need to show why it’s worth the time and money to update learning methods to include both online training and instructor-based courses. With outdated training methods, you are likely wasting critical budget dollars and employee time.
Use the business case as an opportunity to set realistic expectations and evaluation methods that will prove your project a success. A business case can look at specific examples and consider the common results other companies have with similar programs or platforms.
6. Implement the Solution With the Support of Key Stake Holders
It is important to get everyone behind your learning strategy. Work your way down the ladder of stake holders, starting with the most influential group (most often your administrators, CEO or higher management). Once the company leaders are supportive of your goals, learning strategy and learning solutions, you will be able to appeal to those immediately affected (the learners). The last two groups (the customers and the overseeing groups) are not ones you will appeal to beforehand, but groups that you may want to provide results for in the future.
Remember to appeal to each group based on what they are getting out of it and not just the benefits you find important – every stakeholder will have their own motivation for supporting or blocking your proposal.
7. Evaluate the Results and Make Adjustments Annually to Provide Up-to-Date Support for Evolving Business Goals
One of the biggest benefits of learning strategies for companies is that it creates a formal plan that can be evaluated and adjusted. You will want to continually update your curriculum and training methods in order to keep your materials effective and valuable to your company.
As you recognize the most successful programs and the ones that need improvement, your professional development opportunities for employees will improve. Your methods should continue to become more effective and adapt to the needs of the company. It is, therefore, vital to your project that your learning strategies include measurable outcomes and methods for evaluation.
Want to learn more about learning strategies? See the Harvard Business Review article Building a Learning Organization.
Want to learn more about content development strategies? See our blog post Educational Strategies for E-Learning.
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