Delivering a new kind of L&D

I’ve been heading up a project for the organisation to work towards achieving 100% completion of appraisals (inclusive of review, objectives and PDP). It’s a tough target to achieve, and was set by the board so highlights the seriousness that is given to achieving the target. Cynicism of annual appraisals, and of targets like this aside, I want to share the approach we’ve taken internally in working towards achieving this.

The appraisal period for us spreads over April and May. There are still two weeks left, and we’ve already hit 75% – which I think is quite impressive. We’ve (my L&D Manager, Kate Bowden and I that is) managed to get this far without holding a single person-led training session – be that in person or digitally. (We’re an organisation of about 1200 people.) Instead, what we did was re-think the way we support our managers and staff to access the right resources, make use of internal support and opened access to completion data. Here’s what that looked like, and how we did it.

First, we (I) decided we weren’t going to hold any formal training sessions if we didn’t have to. This isn’t because I believe person-led training is a waste of time or redundant or anything like that. It’s because I needed an effective way to just get people doing things, which didn’t take up unnecessary time, and I was (and am) against the clock.

Instead, I wanted to provide on-point resources that people could access (yes, via our LMS) when they needed, and could answer pretty much any and all questions that people might have had. We produced tip sheets, videos, e-learning and guidance sheets. Anything to do with using the system, about the meeting, having a good conversation, having difficult conversations, setting objectives, establishing a PDP, was all covered.

This set of resources was the essential ingredient needed to provide that support to our managers and staff. Without this, we couldn’t be in the position we currently are – I’m cautious to say this is a complete success, but the evidence to date suggests this approach has been effective and will help us achieve our target.

Next, I needed people in the organisation who I could rely on to support their peers and team members without needing to rely on HR. Some of you will recall a while ago I asked for another name other than ‘champions’. I settled on ‘Advocates’. These advocates were chosen because they were naturally positive people, were good organisational citizens, and would be supportive of helping to achieve the target. I checked in with each of them individually before briefing them on what was expected of them. I made it clear that the support they needed to provide was focused on the support to their peers and to their team members in getting things done. They weren’t experts in systems, or in policies or processes, they were just great managers.

Kate made sure the HR team could handle any system based queries. She needed to be free during this period to be able to address any escalated system issues, and focus more on the internal comms plan that was going to help us (bang a drum) spread messages about appraisals in different ways.

We’ve literally saved hours in avoiding unnecessary training, administration time and really focused on helping people at their point of need with the right set of resources available and the right people to help them.

And if it isn’t obvious, there was (and is) clear leadership on this from our senior leaders. Everyone is tasked with achieving the targets for their areas, so they’re all vested in making it happen. Oh, and we opened access to the completion data so that anyone can access the completion data from the business. In particular this has been useful because senior leaders have taken it on themselves to find out how their teams are getting on without relying on HR to produce reports and wait for them to come through.

In the 6 weeks that the appraisals have been happening, there has been all sorts of system based queries, but very little around the appraisal meeting, setting objectives or PDP based queries. that suggests to me that:

  • people are making use of the resources
  • people are relying on their peers to figure things out
  • people are just figuring things out anyway
  • the advocates are doing a great job
  • some combination of all of the above

Ok, so the title kind of lies. This isn’t delivering a new kind of L&D, it’s delivering modern L&D. I’m cautious to say it’s performance consultancy, and I haven’t adopted a direct 70:20:10 model around the design of this – but it definitely is a modern take on supporting performance at work. There’s work to do yet. That last 25% needs clear support to help them get through to the final point. Hopefully this post helps share a practical example of how modern learning can be delivered with some clarity on the methodology used to get there.

(Oh and if you want me or Kate to come and talk about this at a conference / seminar / other event just get in touch and let me know.)


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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

6 thoughts on “Delivering a new kind of L&D”

  1. Another terms for “advocates” is “evangelists”, which envisions more promoting than just support.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for your comment. Sure, that word could work too. I had a good list of alternative words, and for our purpose and this context, I was happy with the choice we made.

  2. Good to see the sense, maturity and pragmatism in this. The gentle hand of support not the firm fist of compliance.

    Nice work you guys and admirable achievement. Next challenge is the beauty of sustaining this and of people themselves influencing what happens next year…great work though.

  3. I’m currently cobbling together a book loosely titled; ‘Hacking Learning’ and your approach seems to echo lots of my ideas about putting learners in control. Maybe self-directed learning is finally coming of age….hence my word for 2016 is ‘heutagogy’ šŸ˜‰

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