06 April 2020

L&D leaders: 4 strategies to help you adapt quickly to change

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With many people suddenly finding themselves working remotely from colleagues, it has unexpectedly become harder to learn from each other, exchange ideas and communicate in all the same ways as before.

And yet learning and development remain critically important. Now more than ever, your organisation depends on having a culture that fosters learning and open communication. You need people who are equipped to adapt, innovate, learn from each other, share, and help the business to respond successfully.

But at the same time, resources and leadership attention are likely to be diverted elsewhere over the next few months. You may need to adapt to changes whilst keeping things simple.

 

Four strategies for keeping learning on track

So what can L&D leaders do to respond rapidly and flexibly? Here are four strategies to help you adapt quickly…

 

1. TAKE STOCK

What learning resources do you already have at your fingertips? Do you have materials prepared for face-to-face training that you can quickly and easily share online?

If you’re in the position of unexpectedly trying to get resources online fast, draw on what’s readily available rather than re-inventing the wheel. For now, not everything needs to be perfect or beautifully branded, if it means you can keep learning going. Quickly share those out on your learning management system (LMS).

For any resources you don’t already have and need quickly, there are a number of content providers with different content libraries, and these can easily be made available through an LMS. It’s also a great chance to test these out, so you can improve them in future with more customised versions.

 

2. COMMUNICATE

We all know how critical it is to have good internal communication with staff. Having remote workers makes this even more challenging.

Your colleagues are busy, often overwhelmed with information, and probably grappling with new ways of working. They may have turned to new ways to communicate with each other such as Whatsapp, Teams, Slack, Zoom and the array of other platforms available – find out what these are and how you can integrate with them. Don’t hesitate to use your LMS to post news and popup messages so you know everyone is on the same page.

The chances are that your LMS will give you a one-stop engagement platform that helps with internal communication and alignment, and can integrate with other ways of working, without adding extra budget or new IT systems.

 

3. ENGAGE

Encourage employees to take ownership of their learning. Through technology, people can gain access to learning resources at whatever time suits them, work at their own pace, and adapt to their own needs. In making this work, L&D professionals become enablers.

Understand how to use your LMS to support this – familiarise yourself with features that will help, including ones that may have seemed less relevant to you before now. How can you make best use of those capabilities to suit current needs?

And find out what your learners think. Survey features in your LMS can be used to run quick and easy micro-surveys, gaining feedback fast: Have learners understood key messages from resources? What are they struggling with? What ideas do they have? The LMS should compile results for you, so you can share feedback with managers without wrestling for hours with a spreadsheet.

 

4. MAKE IT EASY

To adapt fast, keep things as easy and painless as possible. What does this look like?

Make it easy for your learners. A sudden switch to remote working is undoubtedly an extra stress for many people. So make things easy for them.

Ensure technologies are intuitive with simple interfaces, and straightforward instructions. And ensure there’s support available. If possible, link your LMS to other systems colleagues are already using like Teams, WebEx, or Zoom. Using single sign-on, such as through Office 365, can reduce the need for IT support too.

Make it easy for yourself. Technology can help you by automating mundane tasks, freeing you up from pouring over spreadsheets and dates, and sending emails to half of the company. It should give you time to focus on more important, impactful tasks.

An LMS can be used to send our training reminders, keep track of who has completed training, check if regulatory training renewals are happening, and much more.

Make it easy for senior leaders. Management are working hard to maintain visibility of their remote workforce. L&D leaders have an opportunity to win points here, by providing reports to managers at all levels so progress can be monitored in real time through the change period.

 

As a final word, avoid jumping into an overcomplex new system right now. If you need to install a new system to respond to this sudden change in circumstances, it’s best to keep things simple. Opt for solutions that are quick to set up, and can be rolled out in a basic version to begin with. If you can set up online learning in days rather than months, you’re in a better position to keep learning on track.

Above all, find smart ways to keep learning at the heart of your organisational culture. Times of difficulty are often also times of innovation, and organisations which nurture and encourage learning and development will likely be those whose people find creative ways to keep their ship afloat.