Build a diverse team full of ‘hero skills’ and be open to new ideas.
Pooja Jaisingh, senior director of digital learning at Icertis, treated her session on the final day of ATD23 as more of a brainstorming session than a lecture. Despite boasting more than two decades of digital learning experience, Jaisingh still solicited ideas on building a digital learning team from her audience, simultaneously sharing how she’s built a powerful one at her company.
When she began assembling her team, Jaisingh says she focused on three types of personas: instructional designers, technical writers, and e-learning designers.
“I give more importance to hiring more and more instructional designers so that we have a solid storyboard to start with,” she explains. “And we also have an e-learning designer for guiding us with different visual design practices that should be followed.”
Throughout her session, Jaisingh asked attendees about their experiences in the hiring process or with vetting potential team members.
For instance, what do they look for in potential colleagues? Attendees pointed out the need for digital learning team members to be good listeners, have good critical thinking skills, and be able to simplify complex concepts.
To find those types of candidates, Jaisingh discussed how she creates a job requisition. She breaks it down into three parts: company and team information, skills and qualifications, and responsibilities—with a particular emphasis on the candidates’ responsibilities. Jaisingh also talked about the importance of team members having what she calls a “hero skill,” or specific expertise that makes their team diverse.
“We don’t need to learn everything, right? Everybody is here to help each other,” she says. “That’s the kind of culture that we should be creating for our teams. Where everybody’s ready to help. Everybody’s ready to contribute.”
“That’s why having one hero skill is important,” she continues. “Otherwise, that person always feels like a taker and not a giver.”
When interviewing candidates, Jaisingh has the candidates’ potential team members handle the “level 1” interview, then asks the candidate to submit work samples before Jaisingh and a colleague conduct the “level 2” interview.
“Make sure there is diversity involved,” Jaisingh said of selecting interview panelists. “There should be role-relevant expertise. If you don’t have that expertise on your team, check with other teams.”
The proof of Jaisingh’s team-building skills isn’t hard to find; she’s created several award-winning e-learning courses and training materials; awards include the LSDemoFest Award for Best Sales Training Solution (2016) and Best Mobile Learning Solution (2015).