It’s no secret, especially to learning and development professionals, that organizations investing in leadership development are 2.4 times more likely to meet their performance goals. The benefits of delivering leadership learning programs to employees are wide-ranging. However, creating engaging, measurable, and sticky experiences can be challenging.
Challenge #1: Keeping Learners Engaged
Learning and Development professionals have always been focused on creating immersive, highly engaging experiences, however, delivering those types of experiences has become more challenging with the shift to virtual and hybrid work environments. While learners and participants have become much more adept at operating in a virtual world and have rapidly transitioned L&D programs that were once delivered solely in person to virtual deliveries, figuring out how to keep learners engaged in this modality has become a new priority.
Meeting this challenge head-on requires a two-fold solution. First, incorporating cohort-based learning into your L&D program has been proven to increase learner engagement and satisfaction. When employees learn together as a group, they build trust, enabling them to have more honest and open conversations about accountability. Another key benefit of cohort-based learning models is the opportunity for networking, collaborating, and building support structures at work.
The second part of addressing the challenge of keeping learners engaged comes down to technology. The good news is, as virtual learning has evolved to make it as effective as in-person learning, the development of innovative new technologies that support the learner experience has kept pace. The limitations of virtual environments like Zoom and Microsoft Teams in creating engaging cohort-based learning environments with the feel and flexibility of in-person classrooms have made L&D leaders evaluate new platforms, including the metaverse.
While they are still in the early adopter stage, metaversal platforms are uniquely suited to transform virtual deliveries of learning programs. The metaverse combines the functionality of video conferencing platforms with the visuals, interactivity, and flexibility of a physical learning space. When incorporated into learning programs, the metaverse environment is better suited for keeping participants engaged, offering opportunities for more meaningful conversation and interaction, and mimicking the most beneficial parts of in-person learning.
Challenge #2: Measuring Impact
When it comes to proving the value of your learning and development programs, measure what matters most. Whether it’s engagement, satisfaction, participant promotions over time, or employee retention, finding effective ways to track the metrics that directly relate to your program goals is the best way to measure program impact.
Eric Levos, Senior Director of Learning & Development at XPO Logistics, uses retention as a key metric. To that end, he views cohort-based learning experiences as an important way to help his new leaders build a workplace support system, noting that a critical factor in employee engagement is having a best friend at work.
While collecting data to measure the impact of your L&D programs is a must, consider layering the quantitative data you capture through post-experience surveys with qualitative data. For example, Levos called out the need to capture learning and development program outcomes through stories. When learners share how their learning experiences have impacted them on a day-to-day basis months after their program completion, that story can be as powerful as quantitative metrics.
Rachel Brozenske, Vice President at Allison Partners & Adjunct Lecturer at the Darden School of Business, echoes the power of learner stories in measuring L&D program success. She says that everyone has moments of deep learning, including the senior leaders and decision makers who are choosing to invest in L&D programs. Reminding decision makers what the environment was when those moments were happening for them makes it easier for L&D professionals to explain and connect their goals with decision makers’ beliefs about what learning is.
Challenge #3: Creating Continuous Learning Journeys
An important part of a learner’s journey is ensuring they pass along their newfound knowledge and skills to others in the organization. As Sr. Manager of Global Talent and Learning, Terin Duell says The Mosaic Company makes it a practice to look at how L&D program participants take their learning and pay it forward. Are they sharing their knowledge with their teams, peers, and direct reports?
Developing ways to facilitate this type of post-program action is important not only to foster learning that sticks, but it is also a great way to prove the value of learning programs to stakeholders across your organization.
Four considerations for continuous learning:
- How do managers/leaders hold learners accountable to using their new skills?
- How are learners held accountable to making actionable changes?
- Do cohorts continue their interactions after the program is complete?
- Are learners offered additional L&D opportunities to continue knowledge development in other areas?