In the first months of the pandemic, learning and development understandably took a back seat for many businesses, as they grappled with how to keep people safe while continuing to deliver to their customers.
As it became apparent that it was not going to be short-lived, the most forward-thinking organisations began to once again invest in developing their people, recognising that – whether they are working in an office or at home – learning and development is good for business.
As we move forwards, organisations must continue to invest in learning and development to maintain their competitive edge, but it will be important they do that in the right way.
For those at the forefront of learning and development (as we strive to be at Cranfield), much of what will be required by clients post-pandemic will be ‘business as usual’, or at least developing a theme that was already emerging pre-pandemic. But businesses will expect choice over format, location and medium. They will also want content tailored to their business needs , as well as facilitators who engage their learners and help them make connections that result in transformational change at the individual and organisational level.
That said, perhaps the most obvious discussions will be around format, location and medium. Will training take place face-to-face or online, or will it be a mixture of the two? Some of this will be driven by employers wanting to offer flexibility to their learners, but we should not underestimate the power that employees themselves have in this. If people are being told they can now work at home some or all of the time, it is only natural that they might ask why they have to travel to learn. Employers may find themselves having to define in what scenarios getting together physically is appropriate and beneficial to the learning. Providers will also need to consider how they enable people to fit their learning around their lives by providing access to downloadable content or material they can access on the go.
Regardless of where training is physically delivered, it will be as important as ever that facilitators engage and interact with learners, as this will be key to generating the best outcomes for organisations.
Those who can engage and interact with people in a room can also do so online, because engaging people online isn’t about the technology – it’s about understanding how to capture people’s imagination, how to keep them listening, and how to encourage them to share their opinions and ask questions. Without this interaction, you rely on people being able to make their own connections between what you’re telling them and their business. Some people will be able to apply the learning in their day-to-day work, but others may need some help to identify the relevance to their own situation.
Most importantly of all, learning and development should be tailored to the needs of learners and their organisations. At Cranfield, we have always believed that you should start with the outcomes you are trying to achieve, and not with preconceived ideas about function or format. Only by focusing on the end result will you succeed in achieving what you set out to do.
Adapted from the full article in Economic Focus.
David Deegan is an Executive Development Director and Director of Practice Development at Cranfield Executive Development. With over 22 years’ international experience in talent, learning and development across a range of industry sectors up to Board level, he is responsible for the design and delivery of customised executive development interventions delivered in the UK and internationally. View full profile.