Editor’s Note: Srinivas Kulkarni, Head, Learning & Development and Analytics wing, Social Kinnect is the Guest Editor at LI for Feb. The entire month he is going to share his insights on Learning & Development.
Ok, so you have reached my third article in this guest editor series for the month of February. If you’ve read the previous two, then clearly, I believe and hope that there have been some insights that you relate to.
Last time I already mentioned that there couldn’t be a ‘Fixed Model’ for Learning and Development, simply from the fact that we need to focus on individualistic learning. But at the same time, there could always be certain guidelines that’ll help you reach your goals that a ‘Fixed Model’ can’t.
In this article, I’m going to share that roadmap with you, one that serves as a canvas for you to paint your picture on.
So, first I talked about:
- How Learning and Development will help shape the future of Digital?
- Then I addressed the challenges that we Digital Marketers face, when it comes to helping our future do their job better.
- And in my last article, I talked about how we need to go beyond conventional education in order to get our team learn faster and better!
Now, the real question is… HOW?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this. Simply put, you have to find your own pulse, ways and means to carve out a certain methodology. One that is a clear fit for your organization and its culture.
So I decided to identify what were our problems and how would we create a roadmap to help them solve better. By now you’d have known, fundamentally it’s a matter of the desire to overcome dynamicity, the hunger to equip our team members with the right skills and lastly, knowing that we need to go beyond conventional learning.
So eventually I realized, not to be clichéd but, the 3 Ps, as redundant they may be, came back to tease me rather pleasantly, simply because it meant a clairvoyance of sorts! Something that solved my problem as easy as 1,2,3!
So in my case, the 3 Ps that we require to implement in L&D today would be:
With the most importance given to people! My learning has been, that if there’s desire to learn, hunger and curiosity, most folks can be trained if we put in the right effort at the right time. So in my book, for sure it’s No. 1!
Ok, so now, we’ve chalked out some basic framework in terms of what our pain points are and what we shall train our staff on, you might think you’re sorted? It’s just the beginning. That’s when these questions arise:
- What next?
- What’s key under these elements?
- What pedagogy/methodology would work best?
- What tools do I use to train them?
- What content would be relevant?
- What mechanism to measure training effectiveness?
I could go on and on… But instead, I’ll try to list down and focus on each of the P’s to help you understand better in terms of what you should focus on too.
One of the key elements, no matter what in any agency is to drive efficiency in order to ensure quantum of work doesn’t suffer, nor does the quality.
With so much chaos and dynamicity that we deal with and levels of interactions we have, we are bound to F@#k up and that’s a fact! Human errors are a given, no matter how experienced you are, from time to time. It is then, we realize, especially when we introspect, as to why we faced these challenges.
That is when we think to ourselves, ‘If Only…’ This ‘if only’ is what we should anticipate and ensure our team is trained as efficiently on processes as they are on function and skill or products that they’ll use day to day. Be it creating reports, understanding billing, knowing functions of other departments, creating content plans and calendars or for that matter a simple workflow on different issues they’ll deal with day in day out. Keep these simple things to get desired results faster.
- Documentation works best
- Try to use videos if possible
- Step Wise flow, visual representations help even better for some
- Involve stakeholders who own different processes to ensure credibility
- Reinforcement/Reiteration is an absolute must!
This is essentially the beast! Over the last seven years, I’ve probably evaluated, tried, and discarded zillions of products that, getting people trained on them is one of the most challenging aspects for a digital marketer. Why? Simply put the dynamic nature of tools and digital networks we use, changes keep making many of these products obsolete.
Hence, what IMHO would work better, is to keep a track of these changes and rely on the FAQs or the Help section of these products to keep us updated. Be it native tools and products such as Facebook Insights, Twitter Insights, Free tools like Keyhole, Tweetreach or paid advanced analytics and ORM as well as media planning tools such as Comscore, the key is to always keep updated. Some key elements to keep in mind.
- Have regular update sessions for your team with sign off rosters.
- Minor updates can be shared via groups, email, Intranet.
- Sometimes, a best situation would be to have your team take these sessions.
- Open-mic sessions work well for their growth and them understanding as well.
- Key in Product session is hands-on learning. Getting people to use the tools is all the more important than just showing them how to!
- So if you have additional guest IDs, create them and post training, try getting them to actually use tools hands on to solve problems.
Now, what good is having a strong focus and a plan to help our workforce trained on the functional, process and tools when we don’t have a way to tap into the human potential and harness the talent within the entrepreneurs of tomorrow! As rightly said by Sir Ken Robinson in one of his talks, when he referenced to Al Gore’s talk on climate crisis. He says,
“We are facing a second climate crisis. It’s not the crisis of natural resources, but a crisis of human resources!”
Circling back to what I said about how lack of ‘real’ hands-on education is limiting us to build, develop those leaders of tomorrow, it’s equally, rather more important to invest in getting our people trained on skills other than just the ones that they are required to have, in order to do their basic functions better.
What’s important is coaching them on communication skills, negotiation, problem solving, creative mind mapping, time and stress management, situational leadership, lateral thinking. Workshops on helping them achieve, realize their own passion beyond work and or focusing on spiritual or health driven learning are key. All of these are as important to shape their behavior and contribution to our workplace as doing their jobs efficiently. How we can shape this better is:
- Chalk out experts, senior leaders within the organization to pick each piece.
- Keep these trainings customized and small focus group to have higher impact.
- Have strong learning goals and implementation way forward as it’ll need follow ups.
- Try to see if you can invest in experts from the outside or someone who’ll organize for outbound trainings if it’s leaders and potential leaders. These sessions do a world of good to boost your morale and confidence.
While these three P’s that I highlighted serve as broad guidelines, what’s also key is to focus on building a strong structure for your L&D ecosystem and have your own processes in place. These could be the best ways to go about putting that in place:
- Training Need Analysis – A quarterly activity to analyze various Training needs of the organization based on a survey form as well as industry updates that we decide to train the organization on.
- New Hire Training (NHT)- Training process for various new team members, especially who’re new to the industry. This training process will include Process, Product training as applicable.
- On Job Training (OJT) – Post the NHT, the trainer will asses the knowledge base of the employee and while he/she is on job, they will take a couple of hours to be evaluated as well as tested on the work they’re doing. (Buddy system)
- Individualized Product Knowledge Tests (PKTs) – A monthly process to assess knowledge base on various aspects of Digital and or Subject Matter experts to test and figure out how well they are up to speed in their fields.
- Refresher Training – Based on results of PKTs we can decide who needs to go into refresher training of various topics within their domain.
- Performance Improvement Plans – If post PKTs, and in general issues within the organization, then Performance Improvement Plans (PIP) with mentoring of trainers should help them fare better at their job.
- Update Trainings– Identifying updates within the Digital Industry on a weekly/fortnightly basis and rolling it out to the teams.
- Analytics and Insights – Specialized training on Analytics and Insights primarily for client servicing team in order to improvise their campaign, monthly reports and or work on requests from client for detailed analytics.
- Training Feedback Survey – Post the NHT and OJT, the trainees will provide their responses within a detailed Feedback form that will be used to evaluate the training process, trainer within the organization.
I guess, this will somewhat serve as a strong and robust roadmap for most agencies, especially considering the dire need to help grow our scale of learning in the digital industry. What say?