Learning Solutions From L&D Managers: 6 Tips
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Pivoting L&D To Add Value During COVID-19 Crisis

The world is in meltdown but the majority of eLearning providers and virtual conference suppliers "have never had it so good." The global shift to providing virtual training courses, the need for ready-made eLearning content, and also the necessity for organizations to deploy a learning platform at breakneck speed have meant that the learning industry is doing okay. However, behind all of the calls, the emails and the online inquiries is an underlying feeling of panic and worry. Some L&D departments are in a state of panic and are not thinking things through—they are knee-jerking. Others have been through that process (i.e., have thought about things) and are now in deployment mode. And some are just outright scared of losing their jobs at some point in time. My message to everyone is to pivot, don’t panic. During the last 3 weeks, I've spoken to scores of L&D managers. I've read so much online too. Here are 6 tips based on what we have heard.

I’m going to list them first to give you a flavor and then I’ll go into more detail:

  1. Create A New Temporary L&D Mission And Purpose
  2. Ask Your People What They Need
  3. Prioritize And Set Expectations
  4. Pivot To Virtual Delivery
  5. Be Realistic Around Your Home Workers Capacity To Learn
  6. Think Scale. Think Capacity. Think Quick Roll Out.

1. Create A New Temporary L&D Mission And Purpose

You've most likely already got some sort of team charter or L&D mission in place but for now, this needs to be revisited. This is going to be a new temporary mission statement, with new values. Think about what your purpose and mission actually should be during this difficult time. Begin with the end in mind. Take a step back. The strategy might go out of the window in favor of short-term tactics. Be crystal clear on this because all of the decisions and actions you take should be taken in light of this. This is a pull-and-push activity.

Ask the business and your key stakeholders what they need during this time and don't forget to...

2. Ask Your People What They Need

Some of the L&D departments we have been in contact with are frantically thinking of solutions to provide for their people. That’s good on one hand, bad on the other! Ask them. Just like any intervention, you’ll get better buy-in if you involve them through the process. A lot of organizations are taking this opportunity to survey their home workers to find out what support they require and in what format they require too. Just because one company is going webinar crazy does not mean it's right for your organization. If you ask your people, you might be surprised.

You can then think about creating some solutions but you'll also need to...

3. Prioritize And Set Expectations

Work out what capacity you have and what can be achieved.

It feeds back into understanding what your people need. Focus on this immediately with the resources you have. Communicate to your learners and set expectations around this. You might only have half a team available due to cutbacks. You might need to buy an eLearning content library if that's what your people need. Get creative with what you have.

4. Pivot To Virtual Delivery

The world has gone webinar crazy! Here are some quick tips if you’re pivoting to virtual training:

  • Be clear about what can be delivered and what cannot
  • Choose your weapons of choice (i.e., Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc.)
  • Practice (a lot)
  • Manage expectations of your learners
  • Make them interactive (polls, Q&As)
  • Invest in virtual training, train the trainer (delivered by webinar)
  •  Focus on progress, not perfection (It's a work in progress!)

5. Be Realistic Around Your Home Workers Capacity To Learn

For some, it’s tough working from home. Some of your people will have their kids at home and have turned into a part-time school tutor! Some will be home working for the first time as well. Then there are the physical and mental strains that they are all under at this moment. This goes for your L&D team as well as your learners. Look after people’s physical and mental health as well as their technology needs. Everyone is under a lot of pressure and most have health, parents, kids and money worries to think of which are chipping away at them each and every day. So think of this when providing learning solutions for them.

6. Think Scale. Think Capacity. Think Quick Roll Out.

If ever you need to be agile, now is the time. You’re going to have to turn on a sixpence! When you make a decision to “Go” on something you need to deploy it quickly, but please don’t be taken advantage of. Don't get suckered into signing long-contract deals with providers that don't meet your needs. Watch out for this. Flexibility works both ways. Ask for short-term, flexible deals to get you over "this hump" and then you should look to renegotiate when things are back to "normal"—whatever "normal" will be after this please let me know! So look for practical solutions that you can turn on and turn off when you need it. Solutions that can ramp up and ramp down without you getting hit over the head with extras fees or extended tie ins. Think about what you need right now. Look for solutions that will help you with this.

We all love L&D strategy but this isn’t a time for strategy. Have goals and an objective for sure, but this requires tactics. Be okay with this. It's guerilla warfare at it's finest and you'll soon find out who has the best soldiers to combat this COVID-19 war.

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