How To Embed Learning And Development In The Workplace

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When you are designing a learning experience, how much importance do you place on the embedding of the knowledge after the session?

After all, if you are not ensuring that your participants have everything they need to implement this new knowledge in their day-to-day lives… then what is the purpose of doing it?

As organisations look to attract and retain high-quality talent to their teams, learning and development, along with a career pathway is an integral part of most employer brands. It is not surprising then that when a business is investing in knowledge, be that formal or informal; stakeholders will want to know what the return on their investment is. (ROI)

The importance of this is heightened when you consider the Forgetting Curve. In summary, this relates to how quickly our memory retention declines over time when there is no attempt to retain the information.

Can you believe that in one hour we forget up to 50 % of the information we have had presented to us, this increases to 70% after 24 hours, and after one week, some people only retain 10% of the information they have seen and heard presented.

If organisations are to realise the maximum ROI from any learning and development programme, it is vital that the training and learning be proactively embedded into an individuals everyday work.

In this article, I will share multiple, practical strategies that you can use to ensure you and your team members retain as much as possible and use the new knowledge and skills that you have acquired for the highest impact. 

Recruit Managers Who Are Passionate About Learning

Robert O. Brinkerhoff developed the 40/20/40 Model which suggests that the outcome and subsequent ROI of training relate to what happens before and after the actual training event and not only the event it is self. In fact, he showed that 40% of the outcome is determined by what happens before and another 40% by what happens after.

Having a manager who is passionate about learning goes a long way to ensuring that a participant is well prepared before they even step into a training room.

Passionate managers also create opportunities to implement their new knowledge and skills on the job as much as possible after the event.

This is irrespective of this being a one day workshop or the start of a year-long modular leadership programme. 

Identify The True Learning Needs

It can be easy to assume you know what an individuals or a teams learning and development needs are. However, it is still a wise to talk to the individual and listen to team members and fellow managers too.

It can be easy to see a perceived need, such as lack of coaching skills in a manager. This is based on noticing that this manager is often busy ‘telling’ their teams members what to do and even how to do their job. Which is surprising as they have recently returned from a leadership programme where they covered coaching.

When you explore this further with the manager, it becomes clear that they do understand coaching and the coaching process.

The underlying issue is that the person’s preferred communication style means that they naturally “tell” people what to do. So, when it is a 1:1 meeting, they coach. Yet when it is ‘on the job’ spur of the moment coaching, they revert to ‘telling’ their team what to do.

The ‘real’ need in this instance is their preferred communication style. Helping them understand different communication styles and the impact of their own when coaching will solve the issue.

The perceived need can be considered a ‘symptom’ when in reality the underlying ‘cause’ was a different communication style, which I am sure you will agree is a different need.

Get Stake Holder Buy In Before, Not After

In our haste to ‘get things done,’ it is easy to cut corners as we are also often time short. However, investing some time upfront helping individuals to understand the impact of any learning and training vs not doing the training is powerful.

Get them to consider the impact on; themselves, their colleagues in your team, peers that you collaborate with and ultimately clients and the business.

Tailor The Learning To Specific Roles and The Workplace

Stay away from ‘one size fits all’ for economic reasons. To be able to embed learning as fully as possible, tailor the learning to specific roles and teams.

You can, of course, identify roles that are different yet require a specific skill. What’s important here is that you build in practical examples from each different role so that participants can easily see how they will use their new skills and knowledge.

Create Opportunities For Participants To Use Their New Skills

I know I have referred to this already in previous paragraphs and it is so important. Too often managers are so busy that they do not take time to plan how their team member will use their new skills.

At times this can mean that you will need to delegate tasks, create opportunities for someone to be involved in a project, perhaps lead a project. If you are not planning ahead of time and talking with your team members about how they will use what they have learnt, the impact of the training will be quickly lost. Remember the saying, ‘if you do not use it, you lose it’.

Create Forums For Participants To Collaborate After Events

As well as having plans in place to support your team member to embed what they have learnt, encourage them to collaborate with their fellow participants. They can ‘buddy’ up with a colleague and check in with their progress. Buddy’s can hold each other accountable as well as being a supportive sounding board.

On a broader scale, online forums are great to keep people in touch who work remotely and often across the globe. Where feasible encourage them to set up regular meet-ups with colleagues
where they discuss a challenge and gain support.

You may be thinking as you read this that it all sounds great and; “I do not have time”. I get it, you are all busy people but can you afford not to?

The time it takes to manage people and situations when things are not working is, as many of you know, extensive. In my experience, many of these issues could have been prevented had past learning and training been embedded more fully.

I would value hearing other ideas on how you embed learning as this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list.

Until next time,

Nic Hallett






P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.

About Excel Communications

Excel Communications is a learning and development consultancy based near London in the U.K. For more than 30 years; we have been collaborating with clients across the globe.  

Partnering with Excel empowers you to evolve your people and business by fuelling a love for learning.   

We work with you to create unforgettably, customised learning experiences to achieve your vision of success and growth, with tangible results.   

View our case studies here.