How to guide the learners journey and help your employees advance
The learners’ journey doesn’t just apply to the classroom; it also has important workplace implications for employees who want to advance in an organization. It makes sense—to grow and advance, an employee must first learn what they need for their role before moving forward.
But how do you actually connect development opportunity to career progression? In other words, if an employee comes into the organization wanting to progress into the next role (such as a new grocery store cashier who wants to be a manager), how clear is that career path? The learner’s journey, or learning journey, is the pathway that transforms new talent into leaders or allows people to reach specific development goals.
1. Determine the end goal
First, figure out where they want to end up. What role is a person looking to advance into? Supervisor? Assistant manager? Maybe something else entirely? Not everyone wants to become management; some have other aspirations within the organization. For instance, a retail cashier might want to go into loss prevention. The end goal will determine the best learning path. Don’t just ask vague questions about where the employee sees themselves in five years. Ask powerful and thoughtful questions to gain a sense of each person’s strengths, passions, pain points and aspirations. This is in line with design thinking, which emphasizes the crafting of solutions using a human-centered approach.
You don’t necessarily need to develop a unique path for each employee in your organization. However, you should take stock of everyone’s goals and aspirations. If you have a quarterly review process in place, this can be a great time to touch base with employees individually and determine how they hope to advance. When an employee expresses a specific desire for advancement in a particular area, you have your end goal. You can then determine their learning needs and start building their career development path accordingly.
What if an employee doesn’t know what they want to advance into?
In some cases, you may encounter an ambitious employee who wants to develop their skills and explore new opportunities but isn’t sure what would be the best fit for them. If an end goal can’t be determined right out of the gate, you can focus on up-skilling and cross-skilling the employee so that they learn different aspects of the business. Consider specific areas of need, or look for roles in which the employee may provide value. As they learn different aspects of the job, they may develop a better idea of where their passions lie. Then you can hone their learning journey accordingly.
2. Determine the requisite skills
Next, you have to determine what skills a person must develop to improve—or be ready to tackle their desired position—and how those skills are developed. This will require collaboration from all the stakeholders including supervisors, department leaders and L&D.
For example, a retail cashier will need to develop skills like communication, customer service essentials, overcoming customer objections and cash register or point-of-sale proficiency. But if they decide they want to go into loss prevention, they’ll need to be trained on concepts like how to identify shoplifting and internal theft and how to manage a potential shoplifting incident. If the employee wants to go into management, they’ll need to master certain leadership concepts and learn how to do things like set performance expectations, oversee schedules and take the lead on customer disputes.
You should already have an idea of the skills that are necessary for every role in your organization. However, if you don’t have these skills and expectations clearly outlined, now would be a good time to establish documents outlining the skill, knowledge and performance expectations for every department and job title. This will save you a lot of time as you develop individual learning paths, and it will also help to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
3. Outline expectations and requirements
Once you know where the employee wants to go and the skills that are required to get there, it’s time to lay it all out as a plan of action. Develop a clear, actionable path that accounts for the employee’s aspirations, current skill set and skills required. The journey or path should include a combination of training, observation and positive performance benchmarks.
For example, let’s say you have a call center representative who has mastered the art of customer communication and now wants to advance into more of a leadership role. You might then establish a career development plan that requires them to hit a list of performance milestones (such as reaching a specific number of first-call resolutions or staying below a specific average-handle time) while also completing a list of relevant training modules. The training modules might be related to general leadership, inspiring morale, coordinating internal communications, measuring employee performance and more.
To facilitate this learning, you might need to develop new training materials or invest in off-the-shelf training modules. A call center LMS like Axonify includes pre-made modules that are ready to go and relevant to the job. More than 60% of businesses rely on these types of outsourced training resources because they’re easy to implement and designed by learning professionals who understand the principles of effective training. A fantastic resource that covers a broad subject area, saves you time and raises the quality of your training, is a smart investment.
4. Communicate expectations and requirements
Once you have the path in place, you need to share it with the person responsible for carrying it out. Make sure that the employee understands the path and knows exactly what they must do to advance. Make sure that everything is clearly spelled out, from the names of the training modules to the scores required.
If you have deadlines in place, or if you have specific terms or stipulations, those will need to be spelled out, too. For instance, just because an employee meets the conditions required to become an assistant manager doesn’t mean that the position will be open to them immediately. The employee will still likely have to wait, so set clear expectations and leave no room for misunderstanding.
Once the employee starts on their journey, be sure to check in with them periodically. If you facilitate their training through an LMS like Axonify, you can measure and review their participation frequency, scores, completed courses and skills growth. In addition, you can also touch base one-on-one to see how they’re coming along, what questions they have and what kind of value they’re getting from the learning experience.
Technology can help to build impactful learning experiences
One of the most effective ways to encourage consistent learning and growth is through daily microlearning. Microlearning lends itself to the learner journey as it’s an ongoing learning process that constantly introduces and reinforces important information. Employees can use it to explore specific skills that they need to improve upon.
Axonify, for instance, uses microlearning combined with an adaptive algorithm to deliver short, targeted lessons daily—each one customized for the individual user. In just 3 to 5 minutes a day, an employee can continuously develop their practical and problem-solving skills in a meaningful way—and you can easily track employee training to keep tabs on everyone’s progress. So when that promotion becomes available, you know they’re ready to take the next step.
When you invest the time to develop your employees according to their strengths and passions, you invest in their future and the future of your organization.