In a recent McKinsey survey, respondents, consisting of managers, said that building talent within their organization was among the top three priorities. And yet amazingly, only about half of them perceived the L&D programs in their company to add value to their business. In other words, it seems as if the link between L&D programs and the business challenges or objectives aren’t very clear to management.
A huge part of this comes down to understanding what capabilities actually have an impact on achieving organizational objectives. In order to maximize its impact to the business you need to understand this, and apply it to your training and development. You might have well-defined objectives, a tight and streamlined program, and yet if you fail to recognize which behaviours truly affect the outcomes, then much of your training is a futile endeavour.
One of the ways in which you can help guide your L&D program so that it helps learners enhance their own performance and thus achieve desired corporate objectives is to create a learning impact map. Knowing your direction is everything; it is the difference between an aimless and largely purposeless series of tasks and courses and one that is geared toward bringing the most value possible to the business.
So what exactly does such a map look like? And most importantly, how can it keep your L&D program targeted and well-defined in terms of what you need your learners to take away and actually utilize so that it becomes a valuable component of your L&D toolbox?
Designing Your Learning Impact Map
Your map needs to accomplish several things.
1. Identify organizational objectives and the desired results.
What are the desired outcomes? And when creating your learning impact map, the more specific the outcomes are, the better. For instance, you may want to increase sales revenue by 20%, or perhaps you want to increase company presence in a different market, maybe you are seeking to revamp your approach to customer service. Whatever the goal, the training program has to consider these carefully and then proceed to teach the skills that will address these objectives.
2. Outline the employee behaviours that will help you reach your desired results.
This will entail identifying those hard and soft skills that learners need to effectively achieve the goals that have been set. If your objective is to sell more product, then among the behaviours you certainly want to foster are those relating to sales skills. For example, doing a proper needs assessment with the customer, asking focused questions, and actively listening both in order to create rapport and also in order to identify the underlying need or problem et cetera. If customer service is of critical importance, then behaviours related to effective communication need to be addressed. Ask yourself, what behaviour you want to see learners enact in order to target a specified goal.
3. Outline the knowledge, attitude and intentions that will drive the right behaviours.
With the right intentions after a learning intervention, you increase the likelihood of behavioural change significantly. Intentions, in turn, will be developed through positive attitude and knowledge about what’s expected and how to live up to it. So, you need to outline the knowledge that you believe will create the right attitudes and intentions. You need to outline which those attitudes are and you need to outline the intentions that will drive the right behaviours (see bullet 2).
4. Define the crisp and measurable learning objectives of the program.
The learning objectives should focus on the behaviour you intend to develop with the learning, the intentions that will drive those behaviours, and the attitude and knowledge that will develop the intentions. In order to make the learning objectives measurable it is a good idea to get inspiration from Bloom’s taxonomies. He suggests using action verbs when defining learning objectives, in order to make it easier to measure results. Take a look at some examples for how learning objectives for evaluating training effectiveness can look like.
The elements of your impact map may look a little different; there is no set-in-stone way to go about developing this blueprint—the key is to develop it so that you maximize the value of your training program.
Tapping all of the key stakeholders in building your learning impact map is imperative. Everyone brings something to the table, as they have the insights of what the job means and what competencies are critical; it helps to interview and discuss your objectives with management and executives, perhaps even customers where relevant so that you can gain a greater perspective into what they think are the most important skills to succeed.
Measure, Measure, Measure
If you devise a strong learning impact map, and in the process determine the best way(s) to proceed with your training curriculum, then you’re off to a very good start. Now, in order to maintain a valuable L&D program, you absolutely need to comprehend how to determine the impact of it. You can have the crispest objectives and incredibly well-implemented modules, but how will you ever know if outcomes are achieved, if learning is being transferred to the job, and behaviour amongst the learners has developed?
Kodo Survey offers easy-to-navigate reports and data that really do bring it all together for you and thus allow you to see if your learners are headed in the right direction. This is how you determine if behaviours are actually changing. Why continue with a system into which you have poured an inordinate amount of your employees’ time and your employer’s money if, in the end, it falls short?