Last year, most Americans were strongly disappointed by how the nation’s businesses conducted themselves, according to a study conducted by consultancy StrategyOne. In December 2010, a representative sampling of more than 1,000 Americans was asked to grade how well corporate America did in 2010. Eighty-two percent assigned a grade of C or lower. Consumers and employees alike are looking for a change in business. They want to feel valued and simultaneously see a rise in companies’ earnings to continue repairing the long-impaired economy.
“These are wants that help not only drive how a company is perceived and what their reputation is; whether other people are going to buy their product or service or not; whether they’re going to recommend their services; whether they’re going to buy their stock or want to work for the company,” said Bradley Honan, senior vice president of StrategyOne. “There’s such an opportunity for individual businesses to rise above the occasion and really differentiate themselves.”
Honan said the strategy for corporate America in 2011 needs to be “back to the basics.” Companies need to help get the economy back on track and conduct business ethically, all while keeping employees engaged. Collaboration between all employees and successful learning delivery have the potential to respond to those needs.
“There needs to be a much closer alliance,” Honan said. “Employees are eager for that. They’re hungry to be part of a dialogue. They want to participate. They want to be taught and learn. They want to give it their all. There needs to be a dialogue rather than a dictation from the C-suite.”
The key to all of this is predictive learning delivery — designing learning for specific workforce needs. Organizations should identify specific goals and beliefs to instill in participants and determine exactly what these will look like when put into action by developing quantifiable measures of how employees adopting the target beliefs and goals will impact the business.
According to Dave Basarab, author of Predictive Evaluation, this approach can help companies avoid missteps. “There are times when you’ve already decided when and how you’re going to provide a course and you predict and find you really shouldn’t be doing this,” said Basarab. “You find it’s not giving you the payback that the company demands, expects and is attracted to. At that time, you should either stop the course or not even start it because it’s just not the right thing to do; you’re not going to get the return that you want.”
Learning and the opportunity to develop is what employees want. However, companies must use predictions to make smarter, more strategic evaluations and assessments on various delivery methods.
“Once you start looking at the predictions based on intention, adoption and impact, you may redesign the delivery method of the course because what you initially had is not going to produce the results that the company is looking for,” Basarab said.
According to Basarab, the prediction process must be based upon mirroring the path that trainers take to produce superior performance and understanding. The methodology is based on intention, adoption and impact. Intention is determined based on the level of motivation an employee has to apply what he or she has learned back on the job. Employees should be asked to manifest their intentions with written goals and action plans, which should be compared with learning leaders’ predictions of the employees’ goals.
“Then we say, ‘If we’ve got the right intentions and the right belief structure, what would employees adopt back on the job? How will those goals and that belief structure manifest itself back on the job in terms of real work?’ Basarab said. “We predict that.”
This is followed by another question. “‘If they actually produce the adoptive behavior predicted, what kind of value or business results will that drive us to?’ That’s the impact statement,” Basarab said. “Then you can come up with a predicted and later actual dollar amount this will result [in] for the company. Then we put the financial forecast together that tells us whether what we’re delivering is being done right.”
By using a prediction strategy, employees will receive the learning and engagement they desire in a way that is efficient and economically secure for the company. Learning leaders can ensure that the learning delivery tactic they’ve implemented is the right fit before investing in a program that’s neither beneficial for employees nor the organization’s bottom line.
Ladan Nikravan is an associate editor for Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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