Learning to Flourish: 3 Critical Steps to Help You Deliver Positive Change
How do you move effectively from project to profit? Matthew Borg, Managing Partner at Acteon, helps us see how to #MakeItHappen with these 3 critical stages.
Striving to make an impact in the workplace can be challenging. Although your ideas may be compelling, it’s not easy to execute a plan without support, co-operation and collaboration from peers, stakeholders and business leaders. Making sure your plans are aligned to the business is key. Are you confident that you know where the business is headed? And more importantly, do you know what you can do to help it get there?
What would it take to see people really flourish?
Research from Towards Maturity shows that Learning & Development is in more demand than ever: organisations want greater support from L&D to help with critical business issues. Towards Maturity’s 2015-16 Industry Benchmark Report on more than 600 organisations from all sectors revealed that organisations want L&D to help them achieve:
- Rapid response to change
- Improved customer service
- Increased productivity
The responses reveal that the L&D function is highly valued for its potential to deliver operational change, so how can you develop a strategy for achieving these goals through learning? We’ve discovered three practical, easy to implement methods to achieve a greater level of impact through blended learning campaigns. These are tried and tested approaches that we’ve used in partnership with our clients to produce effective and award-winning learning interventions that deliver impactful change.
1. Aim for Action
Aiming for action means pushing beyond the request for ‘a course’ or ‘an update’ and identifying the tangible change that is important to the organisation. It answers the critical question, “Why is this needed?”
When you begin planning your learning programme, start with the change that is needed. Make sure this is crystal clear. Work with the subject matter expert or the business customer to identify the main objective of the programme. This will not only help you design the programme, but will also help you measure its effectiveness.
As you hone your aim, it’s important to ask, “What measures or Key Performance Indicators should move up or down if we get the training right?”
Sometimes it’s not obvious. Sometimes the metric you want to see move is counter-intuitive. For example, the business might say, “We want more people to report potential conflicts of interest.” Really? You want more reports of conflict of interest? “Yes. If it’s happening out there but it’s not being reported, yes, we do want more of those potential conflicts to be recognised and for the appropriate procedures to be followed.”
If the programme can raise awareness of the correct procedures, instil an attitude to do the right thing and protect the organisation, we might expect to see the action of reporting increase.
Before you set out to design your learning programme, make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve. And remember… “to refresh the course” is not an answer. Don’t stop asking “Why do we need this course?” and “How can this help the organisation?” until you get to a measurable and important reason.
2. Reinvent the Intervention
In the ‘Aim for Action’ step you established a reason for implementing your learning programme. It now matters to the organisation in a clear and tangible way. Will doing what you’ve always done get the results you’re after? Will a one-off e-learning course or classroom session be enough? Will that raise awareness, instil attitudes and change actions?
One way to fuel creativity for your blended learning project is to ask, “How would an advertising executive tackle this problem of awareness, attitude or action? How would they get people to change?” Advertising agencies live or die by their ability to drive behaviour change. Maybe we can learn something from an industry so intent on realising change.
For example, when the UK government wanted to change driving behaviour, they created a 30-second video, narrated by a child saying, “If you hit me at 40, there’s around an 80% chance I’ll die. Hit me at 30, and there’s an 80% chance I’ll live.” Powerful. Behaviour-changing. All in about 30 seconds.
Think about all the communication and training channels you have available in your organisation and see what you can use to meet your aim.
Once you’ve done an evaluation of previous methods, make a list of the tools and channels you have at your disposal. It’s easy to neglect the internal communications channels within the organisation. Why not make use of the employee newsletter, write a speech for the CEO, prepare cascade toolkits for managers or shoot a video for the Intranet?
Now that you have a list of the possible channels for reaching your audiences, take some time to think about your different audiences. For each unique audience group, consider how you want to change awareness, attitude or action. Now consider what the best method is for affecting this change.
In the final step, you’ll need to organise the mix into a co-ordinated campaign.
3. Campaign for Change
When delivering positive, lasting change there are no ‘silver bullets’. Real change rarely occurs from a one-off training or communication intervention. If your organisation wants to meet the aim, you’ll need to campaign for change!
A campaign is a set of interlocking, co-ordinated activities using different media and different channels to achieve a shared objective.
If your aim is important, it’s time to take the fresh interventions you listed and put together a time-phased and audience-specific campaign. Sometimes people see the communication plan as only part of driving adoption of the main feature of your programme, whether it be an online course or face-to-face event.
Acteon’s approach is to design the campaign so that the communications will be a key part of changing behaviour and meeting your aim.
Think about your learning intervention the way a marketeer would. When advertisers want to change your buying behaviour, they campaign. They use multiple channels over a period of time to change your awareness, attitude and activity. For example, posters could be used to raise awareness, or intranet teaser videos to change attitudes towards the subject.
As you plan your time-phased, audience-specific communications, start with your aim and work from there. Real change rarely occurs from a one-off training or communication intervention. If your organisation wants to meet the aim, you’ll need to campaign for change!
Think about how you can design your communication plan. Which channels are right for which audience? What messages do they need to receive, and when? The communication campaign isn’t simply there to drive adoption of your e-learning course: design it correctly and it will become the starting point of behaviour change.
Bringing it all together
If you started with a clear aim, gave serious thought to the best available methods and channels for achieving the aim, and then planned a coordinated and sustained campaign, the results will follow.
Keep an eye on those metrics. Re-run the campaign – or parts of it – if necessary. Tweak one or two elements or add an extra ingredient into the mix.
Finally, communicate your results within the business. Show your leadership team that L&D can deliver real change and enable people to flourish.
Acteon designs and develops award-winning communication and learning solutions to enable growth, change and development. More information and case studies of their award-winning projects can be found at: https://www.acteoncommunication.com/index.html
Acteon is a longstanding Towards Maturity Ambassador.
Benchmark Your L&D Strategy
At Towards Maturity, we have identified six workstreams that characterise successful, high performing organisations. From these workstreams, we have developed a common framework of effective practice.
Benchmarking against that framework helps L&D pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of their own organisation, work out what needs to change and map out actions. In short, the Towards Maturity Benchmark is a structured framework that helps learning leaders under pressure identify the actions that will bring tangible results in the workplace. It helps you to work out how to get from A to B!
Jenny Lycett thinks it’s high time that everyone owns learning, not just the L&D department. “I think there are plenty of benefits from organisations seeing L&D as a shared responsibility and I think this is a huge change from what we’ve seen in the past,” she says.
Some avoid it like the plague, many are ambivalent and others embrace it fully. Whatever our position, we can’t avoid the L&D ‘F’ Word.
“When they revealed ‘The Transformation Curve’ and I saw how they had interpreted the data into a model of maturity, I was blown away,” says Stephanie, director of learning solutions at Bray Leino Learning and a Towards Maturity ambassador. “It left me feeling excited for the future of learning and development”
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Something that Clive Shepherd really likes about ‘The Transformation Curve’ is the fact it highlights that the road to transformation is not a straightforward, predictable or smooth one. “The report recognises that progress occurs in waves,” says Clive, founding partner at the learning organisation, More than Blended, and one of Towards Maturity’s ambassadors.
Although we would all like progress to be linear, constant and straightforward, it rarely is. Sometimes – often even – we need to stop and take a step back in order to go forward. Robert Wagner, Director at the CIPD Qualifications & Apprenticeship provider DPG plc tell us more.
Are you taking the right next steps in your transformation journey? Digital transformation is at the top of most business agendas and for some time L&D leaders around the globe understand the need to change to keep up.