Imagine that you are a Procurement Manager for an international company and that you have just started your new training. It is an e-learning program on procurement software that is slowly being recognized as a standard solution in your industry. However, you don’t know why exactly you need this knowledge and how it is all aligned with your company’s goals. After all, you already have your own IT system which is operating on processes that work best for you, and which have proven to work well in the past years. Nevertheless, you were advised by your supervisor to take this course so…here you are! Bravely facing all technical issues that are common in this particular e-learning (with no assigned technical support team) and going through all non-role-specific learning modules included in the training material.
But after long hours spent one-on-one with your computer and dozens of cups of coffee keeping you focused, it is done. All your hard work has paid off as you have completed the course and passed the exam with flying colors. However, when you presented your certificate of completion to your supervisor, he just shook your hand, said “Good job!”, and promised to give you some more details in the “near future”. There was no feedback or additional information to it, and you were just left alone with all your questions and doubts.
Does any of the above seem familiar to you? If so, you probably have participated in training that could have been designed significantly better. Thankfully, today more and more training strategies are starting to put the learners and their needs in the center of the learning intervention. This is caused by the trend of personalization and the growing importance of Customer Experience (CX) in business in general, as well as in the field of L&D.
Currently, simply providing accurate content or decent classroom training is no longer enough. What CX taught L&D professionals is that learners start their learning journey with a particular need that must be satisfied during their encounter both with the trainer and with the training in general. Satisfying that need has to involve e.g.: correctly recognizing it, creating a proper personalized experience with engagement checkpoints on multiple levels throughout the course, or using the right technology. Only by having such aspects covered can L&D companies make learners associate their services with high quality and, above all, are able to create impactful training. However, it is all easier said than done, especially as covering only the timeframe of the training is not enough, because trainers also need to have in mind what happens before and even after when learners are implementing their new knowledge into their work reality.
But, are there any guidelines to follow in order not to get lost in this learner experience field?
The Moments That Matter in Corporate Learning
Keeping in mind the entire learner’s journey, the main principles of customer experience, and the general rules of adult learning, together with Marek Hyla, we have created the concept of Moments That Matter in Corporate Learning. It comprises of six moments that can be found in any kind of learning activity – from a standalone classroom training to a complex multilevel leadership program:
- Learning Inception, which paves the way for the learning journey of the Learner.
- Immersion in the Learning Environment, which empowers and supports Learner’s efforts in the journey to competence.
- Interaction with the Master, which leads the Learner through all meanders of the learning journey.
- Integration of the Learning Content, which helps to build intellectual foundations for new skills.
- Practicing New Skills, which transfers learning experiences into individual capabilities.
- Implementing New Behaviors, which embeds new capabilities in the flow of work.
As stated above, we believe that these moments are present in every corporate learning intervention and reflect states from before, during, and after the training. However, they are not single entities; they are instead built out of interconnected experiences that learners encounter along their journey. Those are specifically:
- Relevance – helping me to understand why the whole process is important for me, for the team, and for the company,
- Setting Expectations – building my perception of the expectations my supervisor has in relation to the training,
- Sense of Pain – making me aware of my competency gap,
- Great Impressions – creating positive feelings around me during the learning intervention,
- Clarity – keeping me fully informed about the training program,
- Efficient Technical Support – easily solving all my administrative and technical challenges,
- Physical Comfort – making me feel physically comfortable in the learning space,
- Trust – building my trust in the process, facilitator, mentor, etc., and making me feel trusted as an adult learner,
- Sense of Safety – helping me feel OK with my failures throughout the learning journey,
- Meaningful Feedback – providing me with meaningful feedback, which helps me to improve my performance,
- Flow – making my learning challenges relevant to my skill level,
- Space for Internalization – giving me time for reflection after each ‘aha’ moment,
- Sense of Progress – making me aware of how my performance improves,
- Recognition and Celebration – keeping me appreciated for my learning efforts,
- Sense of Pride – making me proud of my new competency,
- Managerial Support – helping me see that my supervisor cares about my training,
- Opportunity to Change – making me feel that I’m being provided with time/space to implement new behavior,
- Organizational Support – making me feel that the organization supports and appreciates the engagement in competency development.
How Does it Work?
Let’s go back to the story imagined in the introduction to this text. We believe that if the people responsible for your training had been aware of your entire learning journey, the Moments and Experiences that you are exposed to, the whole training experience would have been prepared in a completely different way. Firstly, you would have been informed by your supervisor that your company is planning to change currently operating procurement software and that there is a pilot project that requires selected managers to be trained in the market-leading solution. Secondly, you would have been advised to take the course adjusted specifically to your role, during which you would have been provided with technical support as swiftly as this would be possible. Next, after you’d completed it, your supervisor would have met you again to congratulate you and to inform you about the next steps and about the ways in which you would be putting your new knowledge to use.
It all may seem straightforward but there are still many learning projects where instructional designers and other people responsible for the learning functions at various companies tend to forget what is the ultimate goal of the work they are doing. And, above all, this is the change of behavior of the people who are exposed to the training they have prepared. However, this change will be a lot harder to achieve if they will not put their learners and their needs at the center of their training endeavors. We believe that focusing on delivering a satisfactory level of Experiences at the given Moment of the learning journey is one of the ways to make it right.