Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) rarely have the appropriate tools to demonstrate that ambitious - and sometimes costly - learning initiatives can, just like any other investment, generate substantial returns.
Here are 8 criteria CLOs should evaluate to guarantee results:
Learning is a journey, not a onetime event. Initiatives should be spread out in a sequence we call the Before, During and After the main event (face-to-face or at a distance). This sequence can last from a few weeks to a few months.
Unfortunately, this phase is often underestimated by learning and development managers who seek to reduce costs. The preparation stage requires close interaction between the provider and the client to make sure that the client’s needs and objectives are well understood. The ability of the initiative to meet its objectives must be addressed during preparation by evaluating its impact on two separate dimensions: learning acquired and business results. What do we want participants to learn? What benefits do we want to achieve and in what time frame? This should include expected financial benefits.
Management development organizations need to provide the appropriate level of customization in order to link the program to the company’s strategic priorities. The most impactful programs integrate the latest thinking (provided by the supplier), the company’s existing tools, frameworks and vocabulary and live examples delivered by internal SMEs. The concepts to be addressed during the program should be carefully chosen according to the seniority level of participants and program learning objectives.
For face-to-face engagements when a program aims to change attitudes and cultures, a minimum of 3.5 days outside the office works best. It gives participants enough time to internalize the new content, reflect, practice,and prepare for on-the-job implementation after the program. Three evenings well spent with fellow participants can also greatly help to cement internal networks in an organization. The mindfulness approach strongly suggests that freeing up some mental space is critical in boosting creativity and learning retention. This can be difficult to achieve in a shorter amount of time. In the case of online engagements, dedicated learning time should be allocated to participants and individual online events should not be separated by overly long periods of time.
The effectiveness of the program is greatly impacted by the choice of teaching methods and modalities. Online learning may be used to build and share knowledge and gain precious time. Whenever a program needs to change participants’ behavior or attitude, a face-to-face format should be used. Research shows that experiential learning proves to be the most impactful. This allows participants to gain experience by actively engaging in exercises such as a business simulation challenge. Furthermore, “learning by doing” has been shown to deliver a high retention rate.
Having the right facilitators is critical for any learning initiative to achieve desired results. Facilitators should have not only expertise, passion, and the ability to engage and challenge participants, but also robust education and management background to provide transfer of learning and effective support for on-the job implementation.
Transfer of learning
Participants need to be able to easily transform key learnings into business actions, an objective that must be considered during initiative design and the preparation phase. Coached by facilitators and guided by their managers, participants should have an opportunity to put their new ways of thinking into action.
Learning and development initiatives should yield results. Measuring results will increase leaders’ confidence in investing in their teams learning and development. This is the closing phase of the learning journey.
At StratX, these 8 critical criteria are firmly embedded in our DNA.
To know more about how we implement these with our blue-chip clients, contact Yann Cartier at yann.cartier@stratX.com or fill in our contact us form.