Tag Archives: training and development

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

The Role of Coaching in your Learning and Development Program

As summer winds down, and the intense heat we have been experiencing here in Virginia starts to subside, it can only mean one thing. For those of you who do not know where I am going with this, it is finally here! The full gauntlet of college football officially kicks off this weekend! As Learning and Development professionals it is time to ask ourselves… What does this mean to our industry? Or perhaps something more pertinent, such as, what lessons can we learn from these competitions and the pomp and circumstance that surround them? To our industry, the collegiate hierarchy means a lot, as it is the backbone of many corporate learning programs, and since a majority of these large schools devote contributions directly into their athletic programs (mostly football). It must be exceedingly important.

So, let’s lay the groundwork with some comparisons. College athletes have a lot in common with the younger members of your personnel. They possess similar mentalities, motivations, educational backgrounds, and drive for success. The comparisons do not just end there. They are both incredibly talented, attempting to improve themselves, and they just need help realizing their full potential; in order to develop the necessary skills to climb up all the way to the next level. That is where coaching comes in. In College Football more than anywhere else, a coach can be the difference between five wins a season and obtaining an undefeated record. The best coaches achieve success with great game-plans, proper attention and research into proven methodologies, and an appreciation to their competitors and what their efforts for improvement may be.

Your great learning program could be even greater with just a little coaching

Instructional designers have been trying for years to come up with the perfect teachings for organizational entities, with learnings ranging from electronic, social, micro, mobile, instructor-led, and blended. But all the content in the world can only get you so far when not paired with real life circumstances and the experiences of someone who has undergone the difficult processes in their infancy. Someone who has been there, experienced that, and advised you how to use the methods you have learned in your learnings, and encourage you to succeed within this environment. Coaching is not just a byproduct of good social learning, in fact, the best learning programs find ways to implement coaching into their offerings in a highly regimented manner.

How can my organization utilize coaching?

In learning concepts and methods for improvement within an organization, it is best if relayed in a manner consistent with the environment your staff is encountering. This approach can best be implemented departmentally. Set completion deadlines for learnings, then offer subsequent meetings learners who have freshly completed said learnings. Let the students interact with each other on what they have learned. In these meetings present the employees with real-life practice problems or perhaps current departmental issues that best reflect the teachings of the lessons. Listen closely to their input and coach them towards the proper methodology to accomplish an adequate resolution. Seeing processes first hand can be the connection point required to finalize the learning with individuals, as this can be the way they best learn.

Turn this into a weekly tradition

These meetings will be very productive for your organization. Like college football, they are best served in a repeatable fashion. When you become a fan of college football, you do not just watch one game. Instead, challenge your workforce weekly or bi-weekly in these endeavors. Eventually strong members of your organization will take on the Quarterback roles and become the on-field coaches your organization has always desired, yet did not know they needed.

Reinforcement

Be sure not to stop there, coaching involves so much more than instruction towards a positive outcome. It can also consist of reinforcement of techniques and procedures. When in a coaching environment, do not be afraid to figuratively pat your students on the back. Things like, “Hey, Awesome Marketing Person, your most recent blog changed the way in which I view our product. Utilizing those freshly established brand guidelines you have learned, you have really gone above and beyond the cause on this one.” All the way to, “That was a really great sales meeting Bill, the way in which you incorporated our sales training techniques in the front end of that call was completely legendary.” These will go a long way into extending the reach of your learnings, as well as motivating your workers to achieve even greater things.

In summary, coaching is a unique value added concept to a learning and development program. It allows the program itself to systematically convert the learnings experienced within a learning management system to real-life applications that they present. Consider making these quick and easy additions to your program today, in order to get the most out of your program. We hope you have enjoyed this reading and are ready for the beginning of the season now. Please continue to join us week to week, in order to see what we will be up to next.

ow to Train and Develop Millennials

How to Train and Develop Millennials

ow to Train and Develop Millennials

How to Train and Develop Millennials

Everywhere you look there are posts about millennials, mainly focusing on their abilities in comparison to their predecessors. There are some really fun ones out there, about how millennials are weaker than their parents, and how their neurological wiring explains their short attention spans. Most importantly these articles are mostly drawn up in the marketing world, and with good reason. Since millennial buyer behavior is so vastly different than what traditional advertising channels can influence, understanding the demographic completely, is vital. Without going too far into a tangent, this generation is simply very different from what organizations are used to. Because of this, the fact that members of this unique age bracket are finally starting to mature and fill important roles within organizations across the world leads to a solid amount of conjecture. With this new landscape and their bright-eyed and bushy-tailed outlook. It is important that we try to understand exactly the training and development challenges that they may represent. As a millennial myself with a fair amount of work experience, I offer a unique perspective on how learning works differently for myself than people that have filled my roles before me.

But before we begin, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. The dictionary accepted definition of what we are talking about: “a person who was born in the 1980s or 1990s” (Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary) is relatively broad. Each generation has its quirks and identifying characteristics, both positive and negative. However, it is important we do not harp on those. In order to develop an effective learning plan to account for this particular generation, it is best to play to their strengths.

What Are Millennials Strengths?

Technology

We have grown up in an inclement technological landscape, seemingly with the devices themselves. Each moment from the time we first picked up a keyboard, to now, is encapsulated in a trend of growth. The computers became quicker by month, they changed size, formats, shapes, in storage capacity, and are continuing to adapt in large part to this generation’s inclusion on forward tech designing teams. The culture around the youth of this generation was forged on the idea that we would be glued to computers throughout our aging and we were. As such, we are comfortable in most environments, are quick to adapt at the introduction of a foreign software and interface, and willing to take on complicated items they may seem daunting to the world before us.  

Multi-tasking

Perhaps our greatest perceived weakness is our greatest strength. There never seems to be enough screens to quench the thirst of a millennial. We move to our smartphones, to our laptops, to the attached screens on our desk, and at any time we could have hundreds of active tabs open and ready for our immediate use. To many, this is construed as a distraction. However, when properly nurtured this can be a great strength for any personnel within your workforce. The ability to keep eyes on multiple functions at once allows for more processes to be done, and quicker. In the age of lean operations, this is a dynamic characteristic to possess.

Group Work

Millennials grew up in a world demanding popularity and are a huge part of why people with obscure talents can now easily find their quick fifteen minutes of fame on the internet. Their entire lives have been placed on display for your viewing pleasure via social media, and strangely, have managed to benefit from the situation entirely. Social media, in theory, should be a detriment to an individual’s development. Instead, it allows for collaboration the likes organizations have never before encountered. Your customers are a tweet away, and millennials understand this, as well as how to get to them. They also know how to partner up to accomplish a task because of these reasons, as well as who they need to approach in order to do this in the most effective manner.

Self-sufficiency

“I don’t know how to do that. Can you help me?” Are words not often said by millennials. Instead, it is more something along the lines of, “I vaguely recollect that situation in comparison to something else, let me google it in order to figure out how to complete the task.” Millennials are rarely stumped in their work environments because they understand that the answer is merely a search away, they also know how to find the answer if it is buried deeply in a minefield of clutter.

Putting It All Together

Due to our inclination to excel on the technological front, millennials need access to learning on a variety of platforms. Or as many as they’re currently being distracted on. By catering your learnings to adhere to these platforms, you are taking the first step in the right direction to cater to your millennials’ needs. Because of our inclination to multi-task, mix the delivery method within the learnings themselves, we are highly responsive to mixed media and in general a good rule of thumb is not to pigeonhole the learnings into a solely text-based output in the first place. Thirdly, use social learning. I cannot stress the importance of this element enough. To get the most out of your millennials you need to allow them to work on their level of comfort, socialize, and develop working relations with each other through the seemingly unconventional method of electronic means. You’ll be surprised at how quick they bond together and begin developing strategies to enhance the organization in general. Fourthly, and finally; challenge them. Millennials are most responsive to situations in which they are forced to think, though most would not admit to it. We are a thinking generation, there is a reason our head is often in the clouds. If you keep these suggestions in mind while developing a learning program, you will surely develop an atmosphere that caters to the new demographic that it seems the world just do not understand. I hope you enjoyed this post, please to continue to join us here at the Gyrus Systems Blog for relevant topics in the field, current events, and attempts at forecasting the future of our industry.

 

Reference

"Millennial Definition." Merriam Webster. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting?

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting

What Makes Social Learning so Interesting?

A Comprehensive Examination of Social Media in Our Learning Programs

Not too long ago, connections were forged outside of technological communications and maintained via sheer will. Social learning, relied solely on what one could obtain in a classroom setting, working with direct peers, or what could be conveyed back in forth on a phone. Those days are now extraordinarily a thing of the past. The World is quite plainly at our fingertips. Thanks in large part to the advent of social media, we as humans are accessible from anywhere in the world. As a result, the world is an increasingly connected and much smaller place. Instead of sitting around a campfire and playing “6 degrees from Kevin Bacon”, I could proactively comment on one of his Twitter posts and get a reaction directly from the star himself. Then, I could declare that I was only one degree away from Kevin Bacon, and most likely win the game convincingly. Why does this matter to those of us in the Training, Learning, and Development field? Social media doesn’t just close the gap between ourselves and movie stars, it also opens up a world of communication options to industry peers, thought leaders, and potential clients. This is important because it allows insights into the daily work lives of like individuals, their processes, and lessons learned on the job that can positively impact the learning community as a whole.

Social Learning can best be defined as working with others to understand ideas, concepts, and procedures. In a classroom setting, this is most clearly present in projects in which group work is assigned. The goal of social learning is to pair people with different strengths and let them combine said strengths together, in order to make a pseudo-superhero. This process has been significantly augmented by social media, instead of limiting the practice to a regional endeavor where only local personnel can apply their skills, members of the organization in satellite offices can now contribute to the learning environment as a whole. In modern times, there is not a day that goes by in which I forego attempting to learn from my peers. Bloggers just like myself are sitting there tormenting their brains in an effort to say things that impact you more than the person before them. We are not here to write fluff pieces, instead, we seek solely to improve your understanding of difficult topics, keep you abreast of industry trends, and every now and then, find a way to endorse the products which we represent.

Social learning done properly is unique as it provides a number of benefits not available in traditional learning environments.

New more consistent source of materials

One of the most intriguing value offerings of Social Media in direct relation to social learning is that there is an endless stream of content being updated live, clicks away from the learner. Though not all of this content is perfect, conglomerate sites based on RSS feeds are pulling posts and ranking them so you can even abstain from reading prose that has been poorly formulated. There are even forums created for people within our industry to get together and discuss issues that they are experiencing as they happen, all of which getting archived for future generations of learners to read, digest, and implement in their daily lives. If you Google it, an answer shall appear.  

How to communicate with each other to achieve a task

In order to make the most of social learning in the social media environment, it is completely vital that we correspond with one another. Social learning begins looking like regular learning if you are just reading someone’s informative “How-to” post on your social network of choice. One of the most vital components of social learning is that we are able to work together to establish a means to reach a solution. To horribly paraphrase the great Douglas Adams, The meaning of life may be 42 but that doesn’t really mean anything to you unless you know how you arrived at that answer. Make sure your social components in your learning environment adhere to this thought process. If a member of your team approaches you and says, “We need a way to turn this into a lean process. Each time a request for this particular item comes in; I panic and it takes me 3 weeks to produce the required outcome.” Then it is probably best if that particular person explains the process in which they are undergoing with someone else who has encountered the same process before. If the communication channel is opened up, the following can be quickly conveyed: “this is how the process was accomplished last time it was done, and these are the successes we have encountered while executing the process.” As a result, you are much more likely to resolve the issue of the ever extending timetable.

The skills of individuals you have been paired with

In the same regard of directly pulling information from the skills of one another, social learning is a great way to quickly pick up skills and establish approved lean processes. For example, a certain senior engineer at your firm can quickly answer the question about a particular sized component within a system without having to reference a diagram. When the question is posed to a new employee in a junior position, they may immediately start deep diving for documents with component ratings and whip out a calculator, and within 30 minutes, they will eventually arrive at the same answer. The purpose of effective social learning is to close this gap. Pair the two together and let them undergo the process of solving a complete project

In conclusion, a social learning program that pairs with your already in place learning objectives can improve the overall quality of the workforce. Not only will a well-adjusted program teach colleagues how to work together and utilize all of their strengths, but it will also improve their processes in the long run; shaping them as more productive individuals. Though the act of social learning has not changed too much in the grand scheme, the introduction of social media has done wonders to extend the reach of these methods, and has led to the need to re-evaluate how our programs work and are structured. I hope you have enjoyed this blog post and urge you to continue to join us here at the Gyrus Systems’ website as we further investigate relevant topics in the field, current events, and the future of our industry.

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

The Importance of Training and Development for Start-ups and Small Businesses

With the hectic nature of start-up organizations today, one can easily make a claim that it is never too early to evaluate the effectiveness of a structured Learning, Training, and Development program. When starting out with a blank slate or attempting to move an organization into a direction in which they have never been. It is best to establish clear methods and processes in which the business as a whole can easily achieve their lofty goals. Without a Training and Development program, the following scenarios tend to present themselves in various manners across and organization:

Process Creation

A lot of times in bustling start-ups and small business environments, there is an underlying sentiment, along the lines of “I don’t care how you do it, just get it done.” This can create a strange occurrence in which a uniform process for achieving a goal is not feasible. Instead, members of the organization scramble to create their own individual processes for accomplishing their tasks. Originally, as it may be the first time an organization is encountering these challenges; it may seem as if this Wild West gunslinger policy of creating on the go is advantageous or even agile. However, as time goes by, the team grows, turnover is experienced… the process can become exceedingly difficult to the team at hand, and the manner in which it is accomplished can be as varied as the members of the team themselves. As an emerging business, it is best to get a hold of these processes early on in their development stages and define learnings that will not only benefit your team as a whole but will instill a knowledgebase on how to approach these particular tasks for years to come.  

Skill-Gaps

Certain department members are running circles around others, making them look bad. How are you going to alleviate this? When people take positions they often come in with an assortment of prior experiences. Though just being around successful people on the job can permeate positive skill building. It does not create a clear delineated pathway to ensure the enrichment of the entire department. When one person is doing well, the business does alright but is capable of much more. When everyone is doing well, the business is truly capitalizing on its resources. Installing a Training and Development program with social components can go a long way in capitalizing on this diverse collection of experiences. Allowing for the organization itself to develop a roadmap on how to train people in the future, as well as identifying important areas in which employees need to focus for the betterment of the business.

Onboarding

In your organization, do you feel that you give your employees enough time to dip their toes in the rippling waters of their position? Or, do you just start them immediately on tasks without any familiarity with where available resources reside, positional strategies, or established communication channels both within and external to the organization itself? You would probably not be surprised to know that many upstart companies subscribe to the policy of immediately holding their new employee’s feet, directly to the flame. Instead, imagine a world where when you bring somebody on, they will undergo their required certifications and training, and know exactly how the role is comprised on the organizational level. Something they can only estimate in their own perception and often without the entirety of scope. In a training environment, these valuable assets will be more prepared for their roles, quickly, and they can go about implementing serious and long-lasting change with much fewer barriers to entry. A training and development program not only makes onboarding clients easier, but it alleviates the pressure of turnover experienced along the way, as the next person in will quickly be able to obtain working knowledge of the position and the tasks it includes.

Engaging Users

One of the biggest adversaries to augmenting employee skills is the drive for personal improvement. This can be seen in employees who already believe they have a grip on their role and are unwilling to accept positive criticism to become even greater within their position. The benefit of establishing a training and development program is that calculated measures can be placed that will allow you to address some of these concerns. Not only can you guarantee that these users are exposed to appropriate methodologies, but you can also ensure how they are absorbing the information. This can be achieved through establishing a learning environment that is specifically designed to meet their needs. By utilizing all the tools at the disposal of the organization; various methods of communicating information can be presented, tested, and measured to promote an atmosphere of continuous learning.

Certifications

The role of Human Resources is exceedingly difficult in these small environments. As there are few established guidelines for safeguarding the brand, and many programs are not nearly as mature as they need to be. By seeking out practices to best benefit the organization, it is also vital that auditable delivery methods are established. By developing a learning and development program with the output of certifications, you can not only confirm that someone has undergone their required training, but you can also adhere to human resource procedures and quickly mature the department.

Productivity

A trained employee is a productive asset for your organization. When processes are documented and the entirety of the representatives are trained, odds are the speed in which their tasks are accomplished will rapidly increase. In small business and start-up cultures, these changes in speed can equate to the lifeline required to continue as a profitable business and thinking up newer more creative methods to stay afloat. A training and development program also signifies to employees that their company is willing to invest in them as well as the business itself. This can go a long way in establishing a learning culture, and incentivizing employees to continue down the path with the organization.   

Though it may seem like an obvious solution, a successful training, and development program requires a certain level of commitment regarding time and resources that small organizations and startups do not always feel that they have. However, establishing the processes of an organization, finding more effective means to onboard, train, and implement these effective processes can immediately lead to a higher growth rate of an organization. Taking the guess work out of how an up-and-coming business goes about procuring more business and interacting with potential clients is exactly what the Doctor ordered. Join me as I continue to explore the Learning and Development landscape, addressing how it impacts businesses, organizations, and learning institutions of all varieties here at the Gyrus Blog.

The Future of the LMS

The Future of the LMS

The Future of the LMS

The Future of the LMS – Where Are We Going?

Throughout the course of history, some very brilliant minds have endeavored the obscure task of forecasting the future of technology. As we embark hundreds of years down the road from some of these grand musings and green field possibilities, it is important to look back and evaluate what we as humans have actually accomplished. Most of these science fiction professionals have taken various swings and unfortunately missed the mark horribly. With the exception of some authors who were able to write so brilliantly that they were able to shape the future, just through the power of their influence. I do not claim to be that influential (or for that matter brilliant), so I will abstain from a grand speculation as to where the industry will be in 2116; instead, I will look at the not so distant horizon. We currently live in a time where almost anything is possible. If you shop around the internet, you can have a hover board in your possession by no later than two days from now, in some locations, it can be in your hands in under 30 minutes and it could have even been delivered by a drone. Cars are beginning to drive themselves, and augmented reality and viable virtual reality is beginning to make its way into our lives. The future is bright and full of potential technical advancement, included somewhere within that progression is a small segment for Learning Management Systems and how they are already trending towards something completely different.

In the Learning and Development world training has migrated from solely instructional and self-taught. To completely accessible without time requirement, electronic, as well as mobile learning platforms. The LMS is vital in organizing these different types of learnings, as well as shaping the way in which you interact with training and development content.

What’s New with the LMS?

The LMS market over the last 10 years has seen an incredible uptick in innovations. From the way in which materials and content are written, all the way to the manner in which they are being hosted. A shift has occurred seemingly overnight in the way we learn on the job. The following are some of the reasons why coupled with exploratory prose as to where these endeavors could take us in the very near future:

Social Learning  

In the not so distant past, the concept of social learning was but a dream in the eyes of LMS providers. A simple question of “How can we get our department to motivate one another? As well as find a way to get our entire workforce to have a similar knowledge base? Without huddling everyone up in a room and taking away more time from our organizational directive.” As such the LMS evolved, giving employees the opportunity to work together on modules, evaluate courses they are taking, and directly interact with each other in learning options. These are all a huge step forward, but, we have only begun to delve into the possibilities of social learning. Companies are now starting to realize the interrelations of social media platforms and the ability to carry over some of the training and development to after hours, as well as using public badging as a reward, allowing for employees to proudly display some of their accomplishments externally. Live documents have made an appearance in some realms allowing for people to not only share an assignment, but make changes on the same verbiage from across the world, while interacting, providing positive feedback, and communicating department intentions across a variety of mediums. Included in these mediums are the most profound areas of immediate future development; including live video communications of recent lessons learned, and Twitter-like company hosted microblogs allowing for instant collaboration on experienced issues and a uniform platform to encounter future issues of that type.   

Gamification

The concept of “funifying” learnings is here and an integral part of a modern learning approach. Walking the floor at an ATD conference is a real eye opener as to what the current market possibilities are. That being said, the platforms in which these games are being built are constantly evolving, giving designers better graphical capabilities, smoother operations, and in general more robust offerings. Gamifying learnings is an incredibly unique approach that demands the attention of a user when executed appropriately, the learning output can be on par with just about any other manner of knowledge transfer in existence.   

E-Learnings  

E-learnings are here, and they have been here a while. It seems that even agency based Marketing firms are jumping on the developmental platform, and that is a very good thing. Content is king, good content can be the make or break foundation of a great Learning and Development program. Gone are the ways of sending your employees off to week long boot camps, instead blended learning environments are becoming the norm. E-learnings have transitioned quite well into our daily lives. Exhibiting themselves as simply as short videos explaining a single rudimentary function, to enthralling multimedia expressions of complex business theory exercises. But, where can they go from here? E-learnings at this moment of time are one of the most exciting aspects of the Learning Industry. College courses have been developed in practical application and people in the space, in general, are buzzing with all the possible innovations they can come up with, constantly looking around the corner at what their next possible media for delivery could be and how that will affect the learner. Some recent ideas that are currently exciting developers are the inclusion of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality environments. Making the Learner feel like they are completely immersed in the learning environment. Knowledge is everywhere and the future of how we obtain it is quite bright.   

Mobile Content

Mobile eLearning content is possibly some of the most under-utilized in the field. M-Learning is here and getting better every day. For the business professional on the go, spending 100+ days on the road, there is now the ability to stay up to date on product changes and advancements that have never existed before. Learnings are being built for a variety of platforms, and with the inclusion of tablets and smartphones, we can truly begin to get more out of our workforce in segments of downtime. As smartphones and tablets constantly evolve, the abilities of the content can as well, causing for a bright future of smarter on-the-go instructional design, and app creation which can make apps as quickly as the educational program at your organization requires.

Microlearning

Along with M-learning comes the potential for the newcomer on this list. Microlearning is a relatively new practice with enormous potential. Reducing long form learnings to hammer the same message across again and again, down to a segment less than five minutes, is not only practical but a highly efficient usage of LMS technology. As the art of creating microlearnings becomes more and more defined, so does the potential for advancement of this concept within the learning industry. Imagine a course of a single large eLearning, supplemented by a succession of a few well-crafted and poignant microlearning exercises on an employee’s phone as they are embarking on a long cab ride away from a trade show. Microlearnings are already more accessible than previous iterations of learning due to their brief nature, and could be a real game-changer when it comes to aiding in the timely completion of course materials.

Analytics

From the beginning of the LMS industry, it has always been important to monitor the success of Training and Development campaigns. This has sort of culminated in programs calculating their ROI based on program certifications and sticking with those figures over time. However, as the industry and technology advanced so did the methodology and availability of great data. The ability exists now to measure every facet of a user’s learning experience, a conglomeration of the sum of the learning program, and the effectiveness of each and every component of the program. From a statistical perspective, we have more information now than we know what to do with. Program managers pick their favorite metrics and apply them to their weekly updates and for the most part, we in the industry are missing out on the incredible potential in this field of metrics. In the near future, a “Money Ball” –esque revolution will completely change the manner of which we approach training. Easier to understand filters and practical algorithms will invigorate program leads and allow for a new measure of program, course, class, and single learning component effectiveness, leading to a general shift towards stronger organizational based metrics.  

In summary, the immediate future of the Learning Management Systems industry is full of innovation. With a potential to completely change the way in which our organizations learn, it is best to keep your ear to the ground to figure out what is coming. So, it is imperative you join us as we continue to explore upcoming market trends and possible new technological breakthroughs here at the Gyrus blog.

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning

In the ever-changing climate of business, it is vital that organizational members are able to adapt to their surroundings. At the end of the day, it is the experience of ourselves and our colleagues that make the difference between industry acceptance and being just another small fish in the industry pond. The best way to ready ourselves for this shifting environment is Continuous Learning. Continuous learning is an established persistent learning process, designed for bolstering the knowledge and skills of your workforce over time, and presents itself in many forms. There are various obstacles to keeping your staff above the knowledge threshold, including the likes of organizational busyness, lack of individual drive, and lack of an industry focus to cause a true change in the way we may think. Yet there are a few simple things that your organization can implement immediately to overcome these obstacles.

Establishing a formal policy of Continuous Learning

This is the most important step in promoting a continuous learning environment. Sit down with department heads and obtain the commitment to developing your workforce. This simple step will go a long way to realizing the potential of your organization. Knowing that your staff is going to continue to improve throughout their tenure at an organization will positively impact employee morale, as well as reduce the amount of turnover your organization may experience. Then when it comes down to writing up a formal policy, take the following practical continuous learning foundations into consideration:

An Open Environment – Establish to your employees early on that it is ok to ask questions when something is not understood. Senior level people often have the required information on the tip of their tongue and are more than willing to demonstrate what they know. Use this as an opportunity for knowledge transfer. Also, do not be afraid to give your employees some supervised free-reign; let them try new ways to approach reoccurring problems with alternative methods and comprehension. This may lead to developing processes that can inevitably improve departments and organizations as a whole.   

Mentorship – When onboarding new employees, be sure to pair them with employees who have been in their role, department heads, or are simply in their department. This can establish a line of communication and lead to increased knowledge transfer. This will also allow the new employee to evaluate past ventures with a new eye and establish any possible shortcomings, shaping an environment where the organization can actually learn from their previous mistakes.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) – it would be a total let down if I did not at least throw in a reference to digital learning. There are structured eLearnings and mLearnings beyond the typical certification requirements which allow for the continuing and necessary education of your people. This can include advanced sales techniques, introductions to hidden product features, and techniques to hone their craft dependent on their job title and responsibilities.

External Education Incentives – Some organizations are big on continuing education. This can be as rigid as convincing employees to go to collegiate courses to as lean as instructing an employee to schedule 30 minutes a quarter of self-guided learning via YouTube videos. With the availability of online seminars, actual seminars rolling through your town, and even trade shows consisting of industry leaders, it is hard to ignore this method for continuing education. If their availability was not enough, these types of learning structures can be incentivized which in general can lead to the largest absorption of external knowledge for your employee base.

Soft-Skill Development meetings and discussion of current happenings – Some organizations require this type of training, especially in the consultancy field; where everyone needs to be able to continuously improve their intrapersonal skills. Theses training initiatives are unique in that they allow for employees to relay their outward communications and how they handled certain crisis scenarios to their colleagues, ask the best method of approaching difficult discussions and problems, and get another frame of reference from an outsider with differing experiences than themselves. These types of meetings go a long way towards establishing protocols for how to deal with these sorts of impediments over time, as well as provide a sense of unity to the participants by further establishing a new channel of communications.    

Organizational Book Clubs – Many start-ups have instituted book clubs to aid in their organization’s knowledge development. This is best instituted when leadership determines topics that they feel are imperative for their staff to undertake, per quarter and selecting a few highly rated books from an internet search, which may further those initiatives.

Social Learning – Encourage your employees to develop professional social media accounts and link with colleagues and various industry professionals, with instruction to follow a few very active members in their selected fields. This will provide for a couple of things, the first a stream of information from industry leaders on industry best practices, the ability to share said best practices with their colleagues, and a means to bolster the organization’s reach as a whole.

In short, continuous learning is one of the most important commitments your organization can make, and there are many methods to implement a quality program. Take the time to evaluate this list and see if any of it could be applicable to your organization. You may find hidden knowledge contained in your employees that you were unaware of, as well as an improved sense of self throughout your organization. Also, please join me as I continue to delve into components of the learning industry.

Why You Should Be Investing in Employee Development?

emp dev blog picEmployee Development is often seen as an optional requirement by organizations and they tend to neglect it without realizing its real potential. On the other side, employees are always eager to learn and develop and look forward to organization’s support and commitment towards employee development practices. Employee Development is equally or more beneficial for the organizations than it is for the employees and overlooking this can be detrimental for an organization’s growth in the long run. 

Let’s see how Employee Development benefits the organization:

Attracts and Retains Employees: Ortus research indicates that the biggest catalyst for employees leaving an organization is lack of career development (75 per cent). An employee development program enables learning and career growth for employees while remaining in the same organization. It makes them more skilled, knowledgeable and ultimately results in better productivity. Providing the platform to support and nurture your employees’ career development promotes employee loyalty and motivation. The amount of effort, time and money invested in a hiring process easily surpasses the efforts required for an employee development program. Organizations that focus on their employee development also attract best of the talent. Prospective candidates see it as an added bonus to their work positions.  

Increases Employee Engagement at Work: Employee Development can be a powerful medium for organizations to keep their employees engaged and provide new challenges to them.  It gives employees an opportunity to learn new skills, take their career to next level or even take a new role altogether and all of this reduces the monotony of everyday work or role. It not only adds to their satisfaction at work but also improves their engagement and performance at work. With the right training and opportunities, their concertation and commitment towards the work automatically increases.

Builds Skilled and Knowledgeable Workforce: Employee Development program broadens the skills set of employees making them technology and business experts. They will have the right expertise in their domain of work, which will add to company’s overall performance. Skilled workforce acts as a backbone for organization’s growth and innovation and employees’ skills, expertise can be leveraged to come up with innovative products/solutions, superior customer experience.  It can be used as an edge to compete in the market.

Each employee contributes to an organization's overall performance. And, employee development programs aim at making them as successful and productive as they can be. Employee development does not have to start as an extensive or costly affair. At the basic level, organizations can involve and support managers to understand their subordinate’s skills and be their coach. It can be manager’s role to pass on, skills, knowledge and insights through coaching and mentoring. It can be added in to manager’s duty and there must be way to provide reward and appreciation. This approach can be further taken to create Individual Development Plan (IDP), where employees will be owning and taking charge of their own development. And, it will be organization or managers responsibilities to support and measure their plans. Overall, Employee Development should be seen as a business strategy and not another human resource investment.

Getting that E-learning Course to Work When SCORM isn’t the Problem

If you’re reading this then we probably have something in common…we both know what SCORM is for. But just in case this term is new to you, let’s get start by getting that definition out of the way.

SCORM is an e-learning standard. It is the reason you can get your e-learning course from one vendor and still launch and track it from the  to be integrated with one another – to “talk” to each other.

That makes SCORM very important.

 It’s great when everything is working right. Students are successfully launching, consuming and completing courses and all of that activity is correctly recorded in the LMS . But it’s not so great when something goes wrong. And, sometimes the reason is because there is a problem with the SCORM set up. When your SCORM package isn’t tracking right, your vendors can help you test the SCORM to see if there is a problem. But what if there isn’t.

What if SCORM isn’t the problem?

You’re not out of luck. There are several other things you can check out. These things also play a key role in making your content work right. Let’s review some of the more common culprits which can give you a SCORM content headache.

  • Videos require a player (often “Flash”) to run. Over time, the player on your computer may have become outdated. Make sure yours is up to date.
  • The computer itself may be causing the difficulty. The easiest way to check this is to try launching the course from another computer.
  • The availability of bandwidth can never be ignored. Remember that this is a moving target. The speed with which your course is delivered to you is “subject to change”. These changes can be as simple as the time of day, moving to a different location, or other web applications “stealing” your bandwidth.
  • The course itself is a big factor. There are many variables affecting how a course will (or will not) run for you. Some contain video – others do not. Some are a very large electronic file – others are smaller. Some are SCORM version 1.2, others are SCORM 2004 or AICC. These and other factors can make a big difference on whether or not the course will run for you.


It can be frustrating when a course content stubbornly refuses to work as expected. Not being sure what to check can only add to the frustration. Try these basic “tests” to run down the problem. Even if it turns out to be something else, at least you can quickly eliminate these “usual suspects” and move more swiftly to the correct resolution.

Do you have control over your own career path?

When advancing in your career and participating in workforce learning programs, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself: Am I in control?

Today’s workplace environments call for workers to take a more active role in their career path. Having control over your own learning and development allows you to set personal goals and see what needs to be done to get where you want to be. I repeat: it is up to you to get involved and define your career path, not your HR department or boss. Surely you’ll need some help along the way, such as what courses to take to prepare for future positions or what certifications are necessary to remain compliant, but in the end your future in the organization is in your hands.

A worker’s active role in their own T&D can benefit the organization too—less time and effort is spent on the process if these programs are designed to be self-directed. Employees today are becoming more dedicated and future-driven, with a strong desire to excel in their organizations (one of the only positive things resulting from today’s constantly changing job market). The employee’s active role also allows company management to measure the ROI of their training tools, such as their learning management system. Many of these platforms offer reporting to help measure efforts.

That’s why it’s important for your company to choose the right software. A learning management system such as GyrusAim not only allows users to track accomplishments, run reports, and manage expired licenses, but it also provides a very useful tool for users: the Individual Development Plan (IDP). This provides a ‘roadmap’ for the user’s career path so that they can clearly see what courses, skills, certifications, and so on have been completed (or still need to be obtained). GyrusAim is also flexible, scalable, and can be accessed at the user’s convenience. There is a direct connection between a company’s LMS platform and the performance of the employees, so the software vendor that you choose is extremely important for your organization.

In today’s time, employees are driven. They are self-motivated and have a desire to excel. If we combine this desire to excel with the desire to learn, we can make use of tools, such as GyrusAim, for the training and development of employees. The burning question still remains: Who has control of your career path? The answer should be you.

Service, Knowledge, and Experience: How an LMS Can Help with training in banking and finance

The training in banking and finance industry revolves largely around three ideas: service, knowledge and expertise. It is these three factors that allow the companies to compete with other organizations in the industry and succeed. This also means that training is of equal importance, because without the proper training, and organization will lack in service (and even overall morale), knowledge (even the most experienced employees can become rusty over the years), and expertise (employees should be trained frequently to ensure they have the most up-to-date knowledge and expertise).

This industry also adopts new regulations and industry standards frequently, and it’s important to make sure that employees have this new information and meet the necessary standards. The status of today’s economy causes people to put their trust and confidence in financial institutions for the most useful information possible. Therefore, companies must have the best resources possible to serve their loyal customers. If you’re employees are striving, so will your business.

But you may be asking: How can I improve my employee’s service/knowledge/expertise? How can I ensure that my company meets industry requirements and standards? A Learning Management System is the answer, and is what will help lead you to continuous success. More specifically, GyrusAim can help provide learning materials to all users in order to develop competence as quickly as possible.

GyrusAim helps companies in the Banking and Finance industry keep employees up-to-date with current regulations and improve competency management using one centralized, Web-based system. The Web-based functionality allows for consistent training to take place at any time, depending on the convenience of the user and the company. Not only is GyrusAim effective, but it is also very secure (a significant benefit for these types of industries).

Last, but certainly not least, an LMS can help track compliance and certification. GyrusAim makes it easy for training administrators or Human Resource managers to track compliance and/or certification of SOX, corporate governance, risk management, policy and procedure management, and more.

 

Adopting an LMS: How Manufacturing Industries Can Benefit

While all industries practice training methods, the manufacturing industry has the most challenging environment when it comes to training. As a main driver in economic wealth, the manufacturing industry accounts for 12.5 percent of U.S. GDP and 11 percent of total U.S. employment. With strict training regimens and industry requirements (such as OSHA and ISO 9000), it’s important to adopt an LMS (Learning Management System) to manage necessary training in the workplace. There is a strong focus on productivity, costs, and efficiency and because of the industry’s large size, it is very diverse and adopts many different processes.

In this industry, there are employees everywhere. Some work in shops, others in offices, some outside of plants and others across the world. Therefore, language is also a huge factor in this industry and its training practices. Gyrus Systems knows how important it is to make training available to all of your customers, not just the ones at your location, which is why their LMS, GyrusAim, is available in 25+ languages.

Each unit of the manufacturing industry has different challenges. Even more so, each unit’s departments face even more diverse challenges. There is often a lack of process, knowledge, skills and training in such large organizations (and this is found across many industries).

But, there is good news. An LMS, such as GyrusAim, can be designed specifically to organizations in the manufacturing industry. Not all industries have the same requirements, codes, and procedures, which is why course customization is an excellent way to increase proficiency and performance. It can also be designed for certain units, departments, organizations and skills. With its ability to easily track on the job training and certifications of its users, Employees can physically show what they have learned through exhibited assessments.

An LMS like GyrusAim is the perfect solution for these challenges. It strives to help companies remain efficient and effective so that they can continue to remain competitive with other similar organizations. With an LMS, there are less accidents and higher compliance with government regulations because training is managed with effective, Web-based software. Even more, GyrusAim is able to comply with FDA, OSHA, the EPA and state and local authority regulations and integrates Six Sigma Training and CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration). Manufacturing companies will see improved quality, increased productivity, reduced production error, reduced waste and a higher rate of return on investments. With GyrusAim’s reporting feature, employee’s proficiency and performance can be tracked real time and exported.

 

Source: http://www.aboutlms.com/lms-across-business-verticals/lms-manufacturing-industry-framework/

 

Why Buy a Learning Management System (LMS)?

1.    Meeting minimum standards is not sufficient to maintain a competitive edge

2.    Increased, more severe penalties for non-compliance

3.    Need to track/monitor compliance at a significantly more detailed level

4.    Refresher courses due at different times based on employee’s history and role

5.    Different training required for different employees = complex matrix of courses & resources that constantly change due to turnover and organizational changes

6.    Manage cross-functional and cross-enterprise teams across the globe, providing goal alignment to team members and visibility on team effectiveness to senior management

7.    Reliable records that are always up-to-date and available for viewing

8.    Provide education to end customers, creating new revenue streams and improving customer loyalty

9.    Valuable tool to prove safety of a manufacturer, verification of policies/procedures and adherence to laws & regulations

10.  Reduce time-to-market to increase competitive edge

In summary, using a learning management system can help solve many organizational challenges!

So you’re ready to select Learning Management System

So, you’re convinced it’s finally time to select a real Learning Management System. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? Was it the latest mandate to develop standardized learning programs company wide? Or is it this year’s directive to incorporate succession planning, career development and pay more attention to employees outside the United States?

Maybe your company is much smaller than the corporate giants with an international presence and it’s just about getting everyone who has a hand in employee development on the same page? Duplicate Excel spreadsheets, new elearning initiatives, redundant training development, managing no-shows, empty seats, training schedules via multiple emails, compiling reports that take hours only to be asked to recreate similar reports at management’s whim each month?

Where do you begin to research vendors and understand the scope of implementing an LMS? How long should the implementation take? Does IT need to be involved up front or should you narrow down your search before putting in a request? What type of services do vendors offer? How much or how little can you do yourself?

These and many, many other questions are fair game for anyone taking the LMS plunge. From the vendor perspective, we want to help you through the research and evaluation process and we want to help set the right expectations. Ultimately, it’s your success that makes us a success.

There are several free resources available for LMS researchers. I recommend this free digital ebook, 339 Tips on LMS/LCMS Implementations, published by the eLearning Guild. Implementing a Learning Management System with the right expectations can make all the difference in your success. Armed with the right tools, you can make a difference in establishing an effective workforce development program.

Using technology to create a high performance learning organization

New technologies are a vital component of delivering high performance learning in a way that is cost-effective and that results in measurable improvements in workforce and business performance.
 
There is no shortage of compelling technology-based learning approaches today, from e-learning to web-based seminars to podcasting to simulations. The challenge most organizations face, however, is in incorporating those specific technologies within an integrated and holistic infrastructure, in a way that makes sense both economically and from the standpoint of learning effectiveness. That’s not an easy job.

A comprehensive high performance learning transformation recently executed by Gyrus Systems also included a transformation of the company’s technology infrastructure for learning. Its existing technology base was in a shape similar to many companies today: it was fragmented, with information distributed over hundreds of databases.  That situation raised distressing data integrity issues, and it also made it difficult to run centralized compliance reports or assess the value delivered from internal training. Managing any of the information centrally was time consuming and needed a great deal of manual support, so the learning infrastructure had also become very expensive.

The transformation path was to Use technology in the most effective way possible to provide exceptional learning experiences, track learning delivery and results, and provide the information needed to support effective decision making about how to steer the learning function in the long term.


Some of the key deliverables for the projects were:

1) Key requirements with metrics for success

2) Team formation

3) A comprehensive learning infrastructure – Gyrus's On Demand cloud

4) Product configuration based on key roles

5) Implementation

6) Training


The proper application of technology to Gyrus’s learning design and delivery capabilities has resulted in more timely and relevant support for the company’s different workforces across the industry. The training team can more effectively plan courses that meet business needs, in ways that also create compelling learning experiences for the company’s employees. Training delivered via e-learning or online seminars can be integrated into the holistic picture of career development and learning for the company. And executives can use reporting from the learning management system to make more informed decisions about helping employees work together toward the common goal of achieving high performance.

Why Content Can Make it Almost All the Way to the Learner – and Hit a Brick Wall


Let’s go back in time. Way back to the 1950’s and 60’s…. a simpler time. A time when the technology of media was basic and everything worked pretty much the same way. If you wanted to watch a television program your choices were three channels and one TV (yes, cathode ray tube) in the living room with an on/off switch and a rabbit ear antenna on the top.

Back then television was the new media; the hot cutting edge technology. And like any new technology how it worked was a mystery to the viewers. And when it didn’t work (which was often) – well that was a mystery too. But the technology was so basic that there were only two things the viewer could do to fix the TV when it didn’t work. The first thing to do was adjust that annoying rabbit ear antenna. And if that didn’t work, the next thing to do was to smack the top of the TV with your fist. 🙂

Fast forward.

Technology is a little more complex today. Viewers have myriad choices of what to watch and how to watch it – Youtube, streaming video, Skype, even old fashioned DVDs. They select from Laptop computers, cell phones, and I-pads to watch their selections. The options are literally unlimited.

And your course content is part of this large, rich mix. Somehow, through all of these choices and variables your content has to find its mark – your viewer.

In the first two installments of this series, we described the delivery of courses as working like a garden hose. The spigot gets the water started, the hose moves the water from point “A” to point “B”, and the nozzle sprays it on your lawn. Your course also has a start, middle, and end point and an interruption anywhere along the line can stop it in its tracks.

The three SCORM Content components are; where the content is stored (server), how it moves to the viewer (Internet or Intranet), and how it is viewed by the learner (computer or other device).

It may not be obvious that something is wrong when the course stream is interrupted at the beginning with the servers. But when a course doesn’t work on the viewer’s end, there can be only one obvious conclusion – no show!

But, as we have seen, there are so many technology variables at the viewer’s end that simply smacking the computer (or whatever) on the top is unlikely to solve the problem. But the show must go on. So we must take a thorough look at the show stoppers confronting our viewers so we can correct the problem. Here are the most common things that can stop SCORM Content cold at the viewer’s end:

  • If the viewer is sitting at the end of an Internet or Intranet pipeline fast enough to deliver the content, it is still important that the device he is using has the memory and processing “horsepower” needed to run it. Help Desk personnel are a good resource if you are unsure whether or not the viewer’s hardware is capable of running the content. But be aware that sometimes the learner uses more than one device. For example, he may begin the course at home and resume it on another computer in his office.
  • There are many popular brands of Internet browsers easily available. Many learners are in the habit of using more than one. For example a learner may use the Company required browser at the office and a different browser at home. Browser security settings can vary from one to another and may be the reason why a course will run for one learner but not for another.
  • Internet Security is indeed our friend, but it can be a perplexing one at times. The most common place a user comes across it is their pop-up blocker. Most users are comfortable with how to use them. But, if a learner has not been on any new websites for some time, it may have been a while since it last popped up. So, when he launches a new course, he may not notice the blocker.
  • And lastly – never under estimate the importance of learner experience and capability. Your learners are experiencing a constant barrage of new and rapidly evolving technologies. For those new to the experience, even launching a simple text only course can present a challenge. And even your seasoned veterans are challenged to keep up with constantly changing situations. The courses, devices, and technologies they used last week may very well change by next week.


So, the key to making sure your learners actually get to view the course is to understand what might possibly be blocking them. That way when it happens, you’ll recognize it. And you’ll be able to help them out.