Learning today is different from what it was 20 – 30 years ago. If you have ever learned something from youtube instead of in a class or from a book – anything from how to cook a dish to how to budget – then you have witnessed this change. As our lives change, so does the way we learn. Our organizations need to be aware of these changes and to adopt the latest trends in learning.
Reports by CIPD, Mercer and Deloitte highlight several trends in the field of learning and development. Just like the internet has democratized and spread learning, artificial intelligence may eventually cause a complete overhaul of learning. Eventually, we might have a system that monitors our behavior, training us on what we need to know or do as we go.
However, till AI is widespread, what are the short-term must-follow trends that you should know and adopt? Based on our experience and the research, here are the top 5 trends that you need to adopt in 2020.
1) The Learning Organization
The concept of the learning organization is not new. A learning organization is one that continuously learns from itself and its environment. This requires a culture of learning. To become a true learning organization is an aspirational goal, like saying you’d like to become a perfect human. However, there are proven benefits to adopting a learning culture, including higher performance, better profits and increased growth.
So, what should you do to become a learning organization? Start by assessing where you are; there are several tools for that. Then focus on building the internal culture and practices for learning. Does all your training come from external providers? Is your learning restricted to classroom trainings? Start thinking of internal knowledge sharing, on-the-job training and team learning practices.
2) Individualized and Customized Content
The cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all approach for learning is slowly dying. People learn what others want them to learn from early childhood. This is why many people hated school and the subjects like history which they found meaningless. Today, there’s no reason to force people to learn things at work, unless the learning contributes to their current or future success.
So, what should you do to customize learning? Start by limiting off-the shelf trainings. Communication skills for example, encompasses a range of specific skills and issues. Investigate to understand the knowledge and skills required. Understand your learners and adapt generic content to suit their needs. You can create customized content internally that fits your organization’s need. Also allow your employees identify their learning gaps and seek ways to fulfil them, beyond classroom trainings; they can listen to a podcast, join a club or seek a mentor.
3) Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching and mentoring practices are on the rise as they are a cornerstone of a strong learning culture. Coaching and mentoring also supports individual learning, so this trend is in line with the first two trends. Coaching has proved its effectiveness and organizations are relying on it as an L&D practice.
So, what can you do to focus on coaching and mentoring? Start by running a coaching program to support your existing L&D programs. For example, you can supplement your leadership development program with coaching sessions that allow participants to reflect on their learning and implement practices within their teams. You can also start a coaching program to support a given L&D gap such as a sales coaching program. What’s even better than running a coaching program here and there, is building coaching skills so that coaching becomes a feature of your culture.
4) Learning Technologies
People spend more and more time looking at screens. If you are not using learning technologies, you are therefore missing out on valuable opportunities for learning. The use of learning technologies has several advantages; It is cheap, accessible, and measurable. You can provide a large quantity of learning content and interactions to people in many locations at different times and measure a range of data from the time they spend to how much they’ve learnt.
So, what should you do to adopt learning technologies? From E-learning to mobile learning to the use of social media, the options are many. It’s relatively easy and cheap to start. You can simply launch a facebook or Whatsapp group to discuss and share content on a topic. You can use existing e-learning modules or build your own using free LMS systems. Whatever you opt for, start small and choose something relevant and then expand based on the results.
5) L&D as an Investment
Long gone are the days where we roll out massive training projects hoping to hit our targeted goals. Learning is not a hit or miss activity. L&D spending should have an impact that can be measured. Basing L&D budgets on results has made measurement a big focus. It has also forced decision makers to focus on programs that address real gaps and contribute to the organization’s progress.
So, what should you do to make L&D an investment? First, how do you decide which programs to run? Is it a simple survey and a match up with generic programs? Or do you investigate to understand the real gaps and design programs that address them? What about measurement? Do you measure the results of your programs beyond happy sheets? Ensuring programs have clear and measurable goals and tracking the results is the starting point.
CIPD (2015) Learning and development Annual survey report 2015, London: CIPD
Deloitte. (2018) Global Human Capital Trends 2018: The Rise of the Social Enterprise. Deloitte University Press.
Mercer. (2016) 7 Key trends shaping the future of learning and development. Available at: https://www.mercer.com.au/our-thinking/seven-learning-and-development-trends.html