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E-Learning … When Does the Lesson Begin?

944126_coils_1.jpgA few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with a brand new client and discuss new training initiatives within their organization.

The goal was to create a training program for their 1st level supervisors to improve leadership skills and increase retention rates for entry level employees.

Sounds fairly straight forward. Right?

Well, as the meeting wore on I started to realize that we were dealing with much more than just an issue of supervisor training. We were dealing with a situation where change needed to be facilitated within the very culture of this organization.  From what I was able to piece together, it seems that over time the managers have slowly taken more and more responsibility away from their supervisors.  Creating an environment where micromanaging was actually applauded and every move was closely scrutinized.

1100046_glass_manufacturing.jpgIn short. It isn’t that the supervisors are unwilling to act, it is that they are wary of taking action without a direct command.

Now the managers who created this environment have, for the most part, moved on into different roles and the new group who has taken over does not understand why their lead people will not step forward and take control of the authority they have been given.

This is the challenge I am faced with.

My task, as the client sees it, is to train their supervisors through targeted E-Learning initiatives.  My task as I see it, is to yes, train supervisors, but also to simultaneously facilitate behavior modification at the manager level.

Why? Because this is the only way this training can be successful.

The realization I have come to is that the managers need to be supplied with job aids and other key discussion tools throughout the course. Possibly even a specific item each week pertaining to the latest material.  These tools can be used to guide their interactions with the supervisors and hopefully help what started as training to evolve into lasting change for the organization as a whole.

It was a good plan.  And, it’s working.  In fact, it is working so well that a single question keeps popping into my mind week after week.  “Why haven’t I done this before?” So simple.

1368422_old_theatre_dashboard.jpgLooking back I feel that as an E-Learning professional I tend to focus on my participant.  Is that a bad thing? Not at all. BUT!  My point is that I need to broaden my gaze.   I need to take environment into account as I send these individuals back into their daily lives.  After all, learning the material is one thing, applying it is something completely different!

So when does the lesson begin? It begins before the first class ever sits down to log in to their computer. It begins with looking at the end goals of training, at the environment of the learner and the culture of the organization.  It begins with contacting those who manager or supervise your participants and providing them with the insight and tools they need to fully support their employees.  After all, they are generally not in the class. They probably know what type of training is being offered, but they aren’t sitting there taking part week after week.

With this in mind, why do we expect them to offer appropriate support? How can they ask the right questions if they don’t know what those question are?

Think on that one for a minute…..

How many times have we put together a course without giving the first thought to what the learner will walk back into after the session.  Not just the job, but the actual people they will be interacting with.  It’s a big piece of the puzzle and one I feel we have been missing for some time now.

So now I challenge you.  How can you take this idea and incorporate it into your next E-Learning initiative?   If you do this, if you give it a try, I would love to hear about the results.  For me, they have been amazing.  And I can promise this is a new habit that I don’t plan on giving up any time soon.

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