Three Steps to Standout Training and Development Initiatives

In a world of constant connectivity, we’re continuously bombarded with smartphone notifications, tailored emails and 24/7 communication. So when we receive another Training and Development initiative at work, it can send us into ‘information overload.’

Instead of losing your audience’s attention – grab it, by creating effective and truly remarkable learning and development training. Through our work with clients and our own employees, we’ve found three key ways to create standout training and development initiatives:

  1. Embrace Digital Development

Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen companies from Accenture to Adobe say goodbye to their cumbersome annual performance review process. One of the main reasons is that, aside from the time involved, such infrequent reviews are seen as lacking value. Because they’re based on input captured and shared long after the performance itself and shared well after the event, they inherently struggle to be truly relevant to a person’s performance and experiences.

At North Highland, we answered the challenge of value by building an app, Culr. Culr is a simple tool used by everyone in our business, and now by many of our clients, to capture real-time, 360° employee feedback, against the company competency model. It’s always relevant, which is why we use it to input into regular performance reviews, temperature checks and strategic HR initiatives. This digital tool is valuable because, unlike cumbersome process tools, it actually enriches personal conversations about development, rather than replacing them.

  1. Give Power to the People

One of the most effective ways of making training valuable is by giving autonomy to those for whom it’s intended. For many employees, this in itself is a new approach worth attention.

Employees themselves are often the best judge of which skills and knowledge would best support them in their roles. Building on a successful internal model, we’ve introduced clients to ‘LearnFest’ – a learning event, where employees can either use the time to independently learn a skill or subject of their choice, to attend a selection of Brown Bags, Hackathons or MarketPlace events run by their colleagues.

Employees sometimes need training on specific skills or knowledge they may not have chosen themselves, and often in vast numbers, for example when implementing a new system. Here we’ve found our ‘Train the Trainer’ cascade approach gets great results. Here, a selection of employees are coached through why the topic is of importance, trained in the topic itself and provided with the skills and physical toolkits to train their colleagues effectively in turn. This allows tailoring, since employees on the ground are often best placed to understand which content is most valuable for specific colleagues and their roles. Colleagues receiving the training often find this a novel way to engage with a topic – by hearing it from people who know their job and their business – their colleagues.

  1. Experiment with Experiential

Many employees find themselves subjected to dry, lengthy training courses without practical application, or worse, left to learn on the job without any support. Our solution is BiteSize training interspersed with practical application on the job. The training should be short, regular and focussed on providing employees with practical tools to solve problems they face in their roles. It should be so targeted that they can’t help applying what they’ve learnt straight away, meaning they learn and develop through direct experience rather than trying to recall the purpose of that week-long training course they took months earlier. And of course, this BiteSize approach is supported with our real-time BiteSize feedback through the Culr app, maximising the hands-on learning experience.

We recognise that sometimes employees want to learn skills that aren’t directly related to their current role. We often have consultants seeking opportunities to apply specific theoretical learnings, try out a new methodology, or broaden the type of work they experience. At North Highland, we’ve been imaginative in finding opportunities for getting hands-on experience beyond our client work. We look to add to the opportunities available through our GoodWorks programme, which ring-fences employee time each year for pro-bono work. This brings new development opportunities, benefits our community and provides our people with a true sense of purpose at work.

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