Right now, leaders are anxious. They are operating in uncharted territory. This makes them curious, motivated, and willing to learn new ways of doing things. Leaders want to regain the confidence they enjoyed before this “new normal.” This means many of the challenges we had getting people to consume or attend learning are out the window!
On top of that, all of us are craving community, connection, and interaction. It’s the perfect moment for learning and leadership development to step up big! Let’s provide leaders with learning that helps them lead their people well, make wise decisions, and steer their organizations through these roiling waters.
What we are talking about is providing them learning for performance - learning they can activate in their work. This type of sustainable learning happens best through a spaced series of interconnected, multi-faceted experiences.
Grab hold of this chance to offer leaders a mosaic of learning moments that include self-discovery, interactive engaging online encounters with facilitators and fellow learners, time for reflection, deliberate practice, feedback mechanisms, and personalized coaching. Instead of trying to achieve all learning objectives in a single modality such as a virtual class, pick the modes that work best for the objectives. Combine those modes into learning journeys that produce the desired performance outcomes.
You don’t always have to spoon-feed information. Prompt learners with questions or “hints” and let them discover the information on their own and at their own pace. If you prefer a more direct approach, deliver the information in creative ways. Think about what makes MasterClass or podcasts popular. The information is delivered in engaging ways by trusted, interesting experts. If you don't have the opportunity to create this type of microlearning, curate the most needed and relevant information from what's out in the world already.
When learners need to do something with what they know, set up online facilitated experiences that allow them to practice behaviors and receive immediate feedback in a safe gameful environment. Design these experiences to take full advantage of the technology. Use video, breakout rooms, polls, chat, whiteboards or other apps for creative collaboration, and turn the mics and cameras on so people can see each other and talk! Don’t squander the time talking at people. Engage and involve them. Include frequent breaks as well as time for people to work on their own and reflect.
Incorporate learning in the flow of work. Give leaders ways to transfer from the virtual to reality. Suggest how they can try new behaviors during their days. Build-in cycles of try – reflect - feedback – adjust.
Our brains need to process and recover. Build rest areas for reflection on the journey. Use mindfulness, thoughtful prompts, and journaling to help leaders internalize learning, adopt new mindsets, and reflect deeply. Keep in mind, self-reflection lowers defensiveness and increases receptivity to feedback.
Coaching and community require, enable, and encourage the use of learning. For situations where your learners are planning strategy, making decisions that impact the lives of people in their care, addressing rooted behaviors and perceptions, growing their emotional intelligence, and adopting new behaviors, consider 1:1 coaching. Good coaches offer support, accountability, and say tough things in positive ways.
We are communal! Foster community! Incorporate collaborative tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams so learners can share ideas, ask questions, and receive social support.
I am confident that if we build phenomenal learning, they will come!
How is your organization continuing to provide learning and leadership development?