Rethinking Training and Development- Agile Learning is the Key to Employee Speed to Competency


In days’ past, year-end planning and reporting was the order of the day as organizations took time to review their accomplishments, measure against goals and objectives, and prepare to execute new plans.

Looking back is simultaneous with moving forward. Work doesn’t slow down and projects don’t wind down at the end of the year. Instead, projects gear up. Or, they stay in high gear right through year end. Companies must be agile in everything, including developing and training their associates.

The acceleration of change is at an all-time high. The market demands more. Employees must be equipped to be agile in everything.  So, learning must be agile as well – and fast.

We used to develop training for clients that were five days long and took employees away from the regular duties for a full week. Today, we’re being asked to develop training that increases speed to competency of their staff. Employees are being developed to take on new roles, new projects and they need new skills to keep up with the demands of new initiatives.

People are entering the workforce with more skills than ever before, and yet the need for development is not only desired but expected.  Fast, but thorough.  Speedy, but special.

Learning and development leaders must be agile in their approach as well. Agile Learning results in greater employee engagement, better retention and accelerates the speed to competence. And yet, the desire for community learning has resulted in more workshops, more experiential events and trainings that hit the mark and allow employees to quickly practice what they’ve learned.

Agile Learning  refers to an approach to employee competency that focuses on speed, flexibility and collaboration.  Here are 6 tips for developing an agile learning culture.

1. Create a Vision

When looking to create any learning culture, including an agile learning culture, leaders need to be on board and help create a vision.

2. Support Peer Learning

Peer learning doesn’t usually occur via trainers at an institute but from peer experts. If you have employees with specialized skills, you can ask them to train other employees. 

3. Make Space for Teams

Many companies are learning that employees learn better when they learn together. Setting up team projects with certain tasks can help team members learn new skills and also learn from each other. They also form stronger working relationships in the process.

4. Know Learners Needs

Market strategy should include knowing the skills needed for the next level of growth to reach sales and service objectives. And, be sure to ask your folks – surveys, focus groups, and conversations will enlighten leadership on skills gaps.  

5. Personalize the Learning

Employees lose interest in learning if they are forced to learn something they already know or that has no interest to them. By personalizing learning, employees can get exactly the right kind of learning.

6. Use a content vendor with a large catalog of options

Even planning for employee learning needs in advance won’t always allow you to respond as quickly when a business need requires rapid development and delivery.  Always be prepared with “off the shelf” content that can be customized very quickly.  Develop a relationship with a content solution vendor that provides a wide variety of content, delivery methods, and assessments to ensure you are prepared to to provide the quickest, best in class learning solutions.

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About the Author:

With responsibilities that include growing Change 4 Growth, diversifying our solution offerings, and helping to get the right folks in the right place at the right time, Carla Cole enjoys the pace and the challenge. She serves a team that includes dynamic organizational change management, human resource and leadership development professionals, stellar project management folks, as well as, a great recruiting and staffing team.

Having extensive experience in sales, building high performing teams, training and organizational development and staffing, she has been involved in technology implementations and process change initiatives in healthcare, banking, finance, insurance, manufacturing, and distribution.

Carla’s commitment to serving clients and associates sets a high bar for increased organizational optimization and alignment, with measurable results and client delight. She loves what she does. The fact that every day is an adventure is just fine with her!