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From Training Academy to Training Ecosystem

Ailsa Carson

May 14th, 2024

 

I recently undertook ‘onboarding’ training with a software company. They provided access to numerous tutorials, video’s, live tutors, and live events. No doubt it saves them time and money in providing this level of resource. Software providers such as Salesforce, Nintex, Cvent and numerous others have led the way in creating these training ecosystems that deliver valuable training for their employees, but also their customers, suppliers and channel partners. It got me thinking and reflecting on my own experience of learning in these environments, how effective they are, and how this thinking can be leveraged to build training systems that support business change and transformation agendas. 

At S A Partners we have supported numerous organizations build their own training academies for Lean, leadership and transformation,  so we thought we would share our 6 simple steps to build a training ecosystem that delivers real results: 

  1. Assess Training Needs

Often called a TNA (Training Needs Analysis) you must identify Skill Gaps: Begin by conducting a thorough analysis of the existing skills of the workforce and identifying gaps that could potentially hinder the achievement of business goals, you should at this point also consider the needs of customers, suppliers and partners to ensure you are considering your entire training ecosystem. This could involve skills audits, employee surveys, customer surveys and consultation with key stakeholders. In a nutshell, if you want to transform or drive a change agenda, then what do you need your people to actually be able to do? And also ask do they currently have the hard and soft skills to do that most effectively? 

Also consider what standardized training you need to provide for legislative and compliance purposes (i.e. Diversity & Inclusion; Health & Safety Training) 

  1. Strategically Align with your Business Objectives:

Ensure that the training programs are aligned with the strategic goals of the company. This alignment helps in prioritizing training initiatives that offer the most significant impact. This also helps you frame training results by way of impact on business outcomes, rather than just capability or training metrics. 

  1.  Design the Learning Modules

Customize Content:  If you have ticked off points 1 and 2, then you will quickly realize that an out of the  box training solution will rarely meet your TNA or strategic objectives exactly.  Develop tailored training modules based on the roles, responsibilities, transformation objectives and career paths of employees. This personalized approach makes learning more relevant and effective to the employee and the business 

 Incorporate a mix of learning approaches such as e-learning, instructor-led training, on-the-job training, and blended learning to cater to different learning preferences and requirements. Most learning is realized in practice, so make sure you think about where learners will practice their new skills and give enough time to do that. 

  1.  Leverage Technology

Implement a Learning Management System to deliver, track, and manage training activities more efficiently. An LMS can help in scheduling training, administering content, tracking learner progress and certifications, and tracking associated business results (i.e. improvements from projects). 

Use advanced technologies like AI to create adaptive learning experiences that adjust the difficulty level or suggest resources based on individual learner performance and preferences. 

  1.  Engage your Teams

Your Training Ecosystem will only deliver results if you create a culture of learning within your organization. Consider: 

  • Leadership Involvement: Encourage senior management to actively participate in training sessions, as learners, facilitators and sponsors. Their involvement can significantly enhance the learning culture by setting a precedent. 
  • Recognition and Incentives: Establish a recognition system that rewards continuous learning and application of new skills. This could be in the form of badges, certificates, or career advancement opportunities. 
  • Certification by an accredited organization such as LCS or Shingo will add gravitas to your program and value to those that take the courses. 
  • Consider the artefacts you could use to encourage engagement (badges, lanyards, certificates etc.) 
  1.  Sustain your program by building in Continuous Improvement & Governance

Seek regular feedback from employees regarding the training they receive and the business regarding the outputs this is providing. This feedback is vital for assessing the effectiveness of the training programs and identifying areas for improvement. 

Treat the development of the training ecosystem as an ongoing process. Regular updates and iterations based on feedback and changing business needs are essential. 

Set your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and measure the effectiveness of the training programs. Common KPIs include completion rates, learner satisfaction, and performance improvements, but to get a full ROI on training, it must be linked to business KPIs and results (ideally aligned to point 2). 

Use data analytics to gain insights into how training programs are performing. This data can help in making informed decisions about future training investments and strategies. 

By fostering a culture that values and promotes ongoing professional development and continuous improvement, companies can enhance their competitiveness and retain a highly skilled workforce. Implementing a well-thought-out training ecosystem is not merely an investment in employee development but a foundational element of long-term business success. 

A training ecosystem is more than just a suite of training sessions, it is a whole system of learning that is designed to develop people and deliver strategic business results, be they employees, customers, suppliers or wider stakeholders.  

Please do reach out if you would like to discuss your Training Ecosystem 

Ailsa.Carson@sapartners.com  

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