Learning Pathways are a means to improve business performance. What are these? Are they really useful and is it relevant to your business? Let’s find out here!
Our world is becoming increasingly connected and converged, with business becoming increasingly knowledge-saturated, organizations need to ensure that their performance is consistently turning a profit and keeping up with market changes. Business performance cannot improve without improving employee performance. This means that if your employees do their jobs well, your business does well too. Learning pathways are a means to focus on individuals and their impact on the business, while enabling them to reach their career goals. Employee satisfaction with corporate learning will benefit the employee and the business at the same time. That’s why businesses cannot afford to overlook personalized ‘Learning Pathways’.
Learning Pathways defined:
A learning path can be defined as a roadmap that lists a sequence of learning activities (in various forms), practice assignments, assessments and hands-on experiences that empower an individual to excel in a job or to achieve a predetermined goal (Williams & Rosenbaum, 2004). Traditionally training has been prescriptive in nature, structured and designed for a whole department or even a whole organization. This kind of training is classroom based, run with content that’s been generalized to suit a large and mixed audience. Rather than run generalized training sessions in a classroom setting every year or every quarter, studies by Williams & Rosenbaum (2004), (Šundov & Gregoric, 2014) and others over the years, have shown that creating learning plans helps you achieve much more.
A learning path in an LMS or elearning platform can actually pass the control from the trainer to the learner, giving the learner flexibility in how to experience their learning. Learners are free to choose according to their career goals. Their managers are then able to view their pathways and assign relevant job tasks. They may also suggest changes or alternative pathways in accordance with the learner’s job role and function. Artificial intelligence powered recommendation engines can suggest a number of different learning pathways (i.e. the sequence of courses or learning activities that the learner needs to undergo).
For example here’s a learning path for a new customer service executive:
- Customer Service Foundations
- Customer Service: Problem Solving and Troubleshooting
- Building Rapport with Customers
- Customer Service: Call Control Strategies
- Customer Service: Handling Abusive Customers
- Creating Positive Conversations with Challenging Customers
- De-Escalating Intense Situations
- Customer Service: Serving Customers Through Chat and Text
A personalized learning path will have additional learning resources that are tailored for individuals to achieve their learning goals. For example: a customer service executive with some work experience, but who has had only 50% success with ‘Handling Abusive Customers’ will be given the option to take a more advanced course or set of activities, on this specific topic. The personalized learning pathway accounts for low success rates and provides additional activities to help develop those skills. Additional learning activities such as mock drills, simulation training sessions, refresher videos, or other forms of learning will empower the employee to perfect the skill. This enables the individual to hone their skills in their learning journey to reach their set career goals.
The Power of Personalized Training
- Presenting learning content in a form that the learner is familiar with, such as audio, visual, gamified or other forms, reduces learning time and improves retention. Each learner has a Learning style (visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic). If you take the time to identify each individual’s modality of learning, you will be able to assign suitable forms of training to them.
- Personalization implies that a learner’s strengths, weaknesses, job skills and career goals are assessed in order to create a specialized sequence of learning activities which is undertaken within a time-frame in order to achieve a set goal. In case certain learning activities are not satisfactorily completed, remedial ‘branched’ steps must be worked into the learning path. Succession planning (using tools such as the 9-box grid), cross training, career planning, bridging the skills gap and much more can be mapped for each employee.
- Planned learning often does not require hiring a training agency to physically conduct a training. elearning or using a Learning Management System that utilizes existing and new resources reduces the time taken to implement training for each individual, thus saving time and money.
- Employee-Centric Learning Improves Employee Engagement. LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace learning report shows that 76% of Gen Z employees ‘learning’ as a key to their career success. Employee development plays a vital role in employee retention, and it begins with effective engagement.
- Improves employee efficiency and hence business performance: ROI is positively impacted when your business focuses on individualized training, which results in improved employee efficiency and hence better returns on investment.
Creating Learning Pathways
In order to create learning pathways on one platform, you need a capable LMS. The concept of a learning pathway always begins with the end in mind. What do you hope to accomplish with this pathway? Defining exactly what your goal is – quantitatively if possible, is crucial to the effectiveness of the learning path.
Put together a visual sequence of courses/activities in the learning path. Each step should be a prerequisite to accessing the next learning activity that’s in line. Branched (remedial) tasks must also be built into the path.
The pathway must not be restricted to only one facet of the job. The learning path must be an all-inclusive, cross-functional set of learning activities. It must be role-based and goal-based. For example: training a sales executive should include: compliance training, process training, product specifications training, various sales pitches, proper use of CRM/reporting tools, soft skills, team building, etc.
The trainer or administrator has control over the type of activities, access to users, time frame for completion, etc. He will also have control over the enrolments and exemptions for specific learners. The process must be well laid out and controlled by an effective LMS.
Learning pathways prepare you for the future
As employee experience and performance improves, you’ll also be able to prepare your organization for the future. Getting your employees’ skill sets from where it is today to where you and the employee want the skill-sets to be in the future, is accomplished by employing learning paths. So, a learning pathway is to be designed based on learner’s career goals, business/departmental goals and on future organizational needs. Undoubtedly, ROI and business performance will be on the rise when learning pathways are implemented on a meticulous scale in your organization.