We all know the story about the kid whose dog ate the homework. As adults we sometimes aren’t much better at sticking with completing assignments on time – especially when they are mandatory. The best-designed training programs will fail if people don’t actually take them. So, how do you use your open talent platform to encourage workers to keep their nose to the grindstone and do their homework?
First, let’s hope that your course design and content are interesting and compelling. If you are relying on print-based materials to keep employees engaged, forget it. Today’s workers really do expect their online experiences to be more fully engaging. Try using a virtual classroom to bring people together and if you are demonstrating how to do something, use a video.
Training goes hand in hand with performance management
Second, tie learning objectives to job performance in your system. A talent management system which includes both learning and performance management will keep employees apprised of the progress they are making toward their personal job objectives. When people understand what they have to complete and which skills they need to master in order to improve their job performance rating – and therefore their pay scale -- you would be surprised how many more people participate.
Third, you can tune the system to send out automatic alerts when a staff member has not completed an assignment within a specified time. Everyone has a lot on their plate these days – especially people who are working and raising a family. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to sign in and finish an assignment. An email or text on a mobile can help to focus attention on coursework. Some systems will show the number of alerts an employee has received and this can motivate people too. “Argh, I received five alerts and I haven’t even signed in for days.”
Fourth, it is important that line managers are involved on a regular basis in helping staff members complete their program. As coaches and mentors, line managers can encourage and act as an information resource when employee get stuck. In a sense, the line manager becomes the coach-teacher, watching to ensure new skills are used on the job and helping to model skills when necessary. Line managers can see in the system where people get stuck and need a boost to help them out. Maybe everyone whipped through assignments one through five and then very few people made it through six. This would tell you that perhaps some supplemental tutoring would be helpful with lesson six. If many people are having trouble, organizing a face-to-face session might be the way to go.
Five, just getting through a course does not mean that people have actually learned a particular skill. Managers need to observe in the field whether a staff member is using the skill or not in regular practice. Again, tying the skill to job performance and pay scales will reinforce why taking a course is a good thing in the first place. And, let’s face it. There will always be people who just won’t stick with it. In those cases, maybe they are in the wrong job? For sure, their dog did not eat their homework - unless maybe it got their cell phone.