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How innovative curricula support organizational change

Is leadership a learned skill or an innate ability?

Leaders of innovative learning and development (L&D) are in demand like never before. Professionals who know how to use training programs to achieve sustainable change are like gold dust for CEOs. This was the case before the pandemic and even more so because of the crisis. The skills requirements for the pandemic have been constantly changing as innovative technologies, new ideas and new business models have changed the face of the work. These changes create permanent gaps in the workforce, making the importance of the training and development manager more important than ever.

Employers and workers need to constantly update their skills in preparation for the needs of an ever-changing future. A 2016 Pew Research Center Survey found that more than half (54%) of adult workers believe that “it is very important for them to be trained and develop new skills throughout their working lives in order to keep up with changes in the workplace”. Workers are under constant pressure to keep their skills relevant, and many organizations do not have the structure to help their workforce develop new skills. The good news is that effective and easily accessible learning that helps people and organizations fight change is becoming more accessible as the long-promised “e-learning revolution” seems to have finally taken place.

Preparing employees for change: an example

The need to stimulate and sustain change in organizations through effective learning has grown over almost two decades. In the early 21st century, the introduction of Internet technology in the organization required a huge need for training to help managers and employees cope with rapid change. One of my favorite early examples is a project I worked on from 1999 to 2002 at British Telecom (BT) in the UK. It was privatized in the mid-1980s, but enjoyed a monopoly until the late 1990s.

However, everything had to change – dramatically. With the commercialization of the Internet, the company has been forced to rethink its products and services and transform from a traditional telecommunications company “poles and telephone lines” into a provider of digital products and services. As a result, it has faced the urgent need to transfer 20,000 sales and customer service employees from the sale and service of traditional communications products for decades to the sale of web products and services.

This retraining required organizational innovations that went far beyond redesigning existing repositories of training and knowledge for these employees. Internal surveys of sales and service workers (including call center employees) showed a bitter lack of basic understanding, not to mention the ability to sell and service, a fast-paced generation of products and solutions. Less than 20% of respondents who participated in the surveys had experience or knowledge of what the Internet is and how it works. How could they continue to do their old job of servicing their customer base, learning new products and services and tackling change change? The successful implementation of these new products and services required more than just the analysis and evaluation of knowledge sharing. Strategic investments were required to foster large-scale changes in the skills and thinking in the workforce of more than 20,000 people.

At the time, I was a senior manager of a consulting firm responsible for the architecture and implementation of the training program to help BT create its first fully online training program to help this mass workforce move into the future. What better way to help them learn about the Internet than to use the Internet for learning?

We developed the program and its online content and then deployed it for three months. We pre-measured baseline opportunities and then re-measured these opportunities after three months and found significant changes in people’s skills: more than 90% of the workforce said they were now comfortable discussing new products and services with customers and BT saw sales growth 57% of new online products and services. Investments in L&D to drive change have paid off well.

Modern learning

We are moving forward to the last days, and although access to training programs is wider, people say they do not have much free time at work. I have seen that if we present learning content in a workflow and in familiar consumer formats, with channels, topics, recommendations, and presented content, students are more likely to complete it. This approach creates an opportunity to embed training programs that make changes in the daily work of individual employees.

In addition, technology is fast becoming smarter. He knows the students, their role and skills deficiencies, and helps the training “nuggets” at the right time and in the right place. Given that these new models and technologies make learning more focused, accessible and easy to consume, the main challenge is to find out what skills organizations need today and tomorrow.

Which brings us to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations and workers have found themselves in one of the busiest periods since the Great Recession of 2008. In a time of crisis, forward-looking businesses are investing more, not less, in L&D as a way to keep people and help them cope with the new reality – and strengthen new beliefs or strategies after the crisis.

Organizations that know how to use L&D for manage change have the following characteristics:

They use L&D programs to help people feel empowered during change

Two of the biggest emotions people experience during a change are fear of the unknown and loss of control. Bring your people back to the driver’s place of their path of change and set personal and / or team goals for a period of change. One of the things people do can control is to ensure that they achieve the best from change.

They create faith in the future

The best L&D leaders help their organization create a picture of the future and inspire people to participate. It is important to be intentional and help people learn and understand what the future might look like and what awaits them. L&D leaders can help by tightly weaving future ambitions into existing L&D programs to make sure they are fueled by new beliefs and fully aligned with him.

They make change sustainable

Using the change process as an opportunity to transform your managers into the best leaders and HR managers provides an opportunity to drive change in the organization from the top down. Leaders who go to the conversation are said to talk a lot in the workplace.

In conclusion, L&D executives have a unique opportunity to say that investing in training during a crisis can pay big dividends. Learning leaders who embrace massive change in the way we work will create competitive advantage by implementing an L&D feature that will drive transformation through curricula.

The time has come. Time now. What are you going to do?

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