Many of our L&D clients talk to us about how best they can support their staff to learn and develop. Creating an effective L&D service that offers different options for learning is at the top of their list. This blog focuses on self-service learning.
What is self-service learning?
I first read about self-service learning in this blog from ATD in 2011.
It sparked my interest for two main reasons; it seemed like a natural solution to the ‘L&D crisis’ and it also seemed a natural fit with the environment that we live in. As the author says, everything was going self-service, from filling our cars with fuel, to supermarket checkouts and boarding planes for far-flung destinations. It seemed fitting that we would apply this to all sorts of ideas in the workplace – so why not workplace learning too?
L&D crisis – what crisis?
We’ve been talking about the L&D crisis since at least 2010. (Google ‘L&D crisis’ and you’ll see what I mean) A couple of years ago, Logicearth ran an event with Donald Taylor of the Learning and Performance institute. You can see the summary of that event here.
Donald spoke of the ‘Training ghetto’ - where some L&D professionals seemed to be stuck just delivering training courses, on order from the rest of the business. He said that if L&D did not start to think more strategically and get involved in delivering and supporting wider business results, they could face extinction. This extinction has now happened in many companies. L&D departments have been down-sized or outsourced, and many L&D professionals have been faced not only with ‘doing more with less’ but doing more with very little.
The real driver for self-service learning
But at Logicearth, we think the drive towards self-service learning is a little more complex than cost reduction and rationalisation. Firstly, if most of your training provision and learning support is self-service, it can free up L&D from time-consuming training administration and delivery. They are free to get out of the ghetto and into the boardroom to make a bigger influence on the business. This can only be a good thing.
Secondly, we think that staff are powering the drive towards self-service learning. As the ATD blog at the start of this post said – it is part of our expectation outside of work, so why not inside work!
At Logicearth, from talking to L&D professionals and the staff they support, we have found:
- Dictating internal or external training courses does not engage people
- Encouraging staff to suggest the type of training they want - be it formal classroom, company sponsored conferences, lunchtime update sessions, on-demand reference material will show results
The concept of 'a career' is evolving. Gone is the idea of a job for life. The importance of a self-driven and ever moving career development path is increasing. That means people need total flexibility in how they learn and develop at all stages of their careers. Learning resources need to be very accessible, easy to search, well tagged, video-based where possible and above all short. (5-10 minutes, not 5-10 hours!)
Defining self-service learning
But what exactly do we mean by self-service learning provision?
Instead of sending staff on courses, you make a rich set of learning resources available to staff and encourage them to choose how to address their own learning and performance needs.
Self-service learning provision means L&D doing a lot of up-front work; it is about thinking through the common and core learning needs of your staff. It is also about thinking how to support your staff. In most organisations, there are specific performance and business challenges, so the learning resources you select should also help to address these challenges.
Best-in-class self-service learning is a collection of rich, high quality learning resources, preferably short, focused topics with access to coaching support and mentoring on-demand.
Examples of successful self-service learning
Self-service learning sounds too good to be true – does it really work?
Yes! It does really work.
We’ve already helped many of our clients to move towards a self-service learning provision and it is working well for them. Some use it to support a certification path for their staff, giving them more flexible learning options and lots of opportunity to keep refreshing their knowledge. That is one of the big advantages of self-service learning over more conventional one-off courses – you can keep going back for more, if and when suits you.
Read our Success story on how we helped IDE Group create a self-service L&D function
Tips for getting started with self-service learning
- Get to know your business challenges - talk to team leaders and the senior management team
- Review how you do performance reviews - often common topics come up and providing staff access to learning resources on these topics could facilitate better reviews
- Look at common training needs e.g. Microsoft office applications, productivity skills such as time management and compliance training
- Build a set of supports to help drive engagement with the content – everyone in your organisation is an expert at something, so how could you encourage a peer mentoring or coaching initiative?
- Research different eLearning content vendors – the quality of content matters more than you think!
The big mistake that we’ve seen at Logicearth when implementing self-service learning not asking the question - 'If I build it, will they come?’. In the first generation of eLearning – back in the 1990s, eLearning content was simply uploaded to an LMS and no attempt to support staff was made. Self-service learning of 2016 should be much different. The rich learning resources that L&D research and make available should be used in many ways. For example, team managers could recommend certain topics with their staff and have good coaching discussions to help consolidate the learning.
Practical self-service learning
Our new intelligent learning platform - Percipio gets you to a self-service learning provision very quickly. Percipio is the new breed of learning experience platform; it makes it a pleasure to learn. Give us a call today for a demo of Percipio - it is a 'set up and go' solution that will give you more time to devote to supporting your staff.