ATD 2016 Sneak Peek – 4 Ideas for Restoring Relevance to L&D

We’re just a few days away from the BIGGEST event on the learning and development industry calendar – 2016 ATD International Conference & Expo. Axonify will be in Denver to meet new people and share our approach to modern workplace learning. You can find us at Booth 139 in the Expo Hall throughout the event. Be sure to say “hi” if you spot one of us in the halls or if we happen to attend the same sessions!

Speaking of sessions, we’d love if you would attend Escape Extinction! 4 Ideas for Restoring Relevance to L&D on Tuesday, May 24 at 3 pm in room 217. During this one-hour session, Axonify CEO Carol Leaman and I will discuss the evolving knowledge needs of today’s employees and share examples of how we have helped numerous companies improve their learning ecosystems and achieve considerable business results.

ATD 2016 sneak peak axonify

Here’s a special sneak preview of 4 key points we’ll discuss during our session:

The workplace has changed, but L&D has not.

There’s no doubt that organizations have come to understand the value of workplace learning. 84% of executives rate learning as an essential part of their strategies, and $70.6 BILLION was spent on corporate training in the U.S. in 2015. Despite this acknowledged importance, L&D-provided resources are often the least-valued learning opportunities used in the workplace.

This disconnect is the result of L&D’s failure to keep up with changes in the workplace and the people they support. Traditional strategies, such as event-based training and eLearning, are not sufficient to drive the knowledge and behaviors employees need to do their jobs and deliver the expected results. To avoid an extinction of irrelevance, L&D must evolve its strategies and tactics to align to the modern workplace ecosystem.

Tying learning to business results is not only possible but essential.

L&D has been historically and regrettably unable to connect their efforts to measureable business results. For many L&D professionals, the concept of ROI fits into mythical workplace lore somewhere between the sasquatch and a unicorn. Regardless of effort, this disconnect leaves L&D open to scrutiny and unable to provide its value to the overall business.

The “right thing to do” approach is no longer sufficient to justify the investment in workplace learning. No, I’m not saying that everything L&D does to support performance must be tied to a definitive ROI. However, L&D must work with stakeholders to identify key pain points and implement strategies that address performance problems in meaningful, measureable ways. If you can’t answer the question “How will we know it worked?” then why do it?

You’re supporting humans first, employees second.

The brain works how the brain works. While we still don’t know all that much about it and—of course—everyone is unique, people are people and therefore have inherent capabilities and limitations when it comes to learning. To effectively leverage the science of learning, L&D must provide resources that are built the way humans naturally consume and share knowledge. We can’t overcome human nature just because we expect our employees to learn EVERYTHING they need to do their jobs as quickly as possible.

One important consideration is the proper “sorting” of knowledge based on expected use. Employees cannot be expected to know everything. Therefore, L&D must separate knowledge that must be retained from that which can be referenced on the job. Learning strategies, such as spaced repetition and retrieval practice, along with performance support resources, including on-demand knowledge sharing and job aids, can then be provided in alignment with these expectations.

Their context is more important than your strategy.

Have you ever been told “I don’t have time to learn today” by one of the people you support? This statement speaks to not only a possible misperception of learning within the organization but also a misalignment in learning strategy. The workplace is called the workplace because the focus is on WORK—not learning. Therefore, L&D must align its strategies to fit within the context of the workplace and not require unnecessary time and effort from employees who are likely quite busy and possibly stressed out.

Microlearning is one approach that can be used to overcome this challenge, as bite-sized and on-demand content fits more easily into natural gaps in an employee’s day. It’s also important for L&D to understand employees’ workflows so they can position learning opportunities at the most opportune moments and locations (physical and/or digital). It’s not enough for employees to find time for learning. They must be as open and ready to receive new knowledge as possible to ensure proper focus and retention.  

I hope to see you at our Escape Extinction! Session so you can hear the full story and grab a few practical ideas to improve your learning and performance strategies. If you won’t be in Denver, check out our full presentation on SlideShare, and share your insights and questions via comments below. We’ll also be live tweeting during the event using #ATD2016. Be sure to follow @Axonify and @JD_Dillon.

JD Dillon became an expert on frontline training and enablement over two decades working in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. A respected author and speaker in the workplace learning community, JD also continues to apply his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day in his role as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect.

Let’s work together to drive frontline performance in all the right ways.