The solution to the dissolution of training departments – Some radical ideas to transform your corporate learning

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In this article, Paul Archer from Archer Training shares with you why traditional training departments are expiring since they deliver training and development in a manner not suited to the future. He then gives you a blueprint that can help you find the solution to ensure you develop your people in this full employment world.

Who is responsible for developing advisers? The fabled training department. They’re almost extinct now. Large firms are making the company training officers redundant and relying on online learning methods. After all firms like page turning eLearning; advisers deplore them. Ask them if you’re in doubt.

No, training departments that we grew up with have long gone or are on death row. The solution is to empower sales managers to do this. Moreover, the FCA should make this a requirement of the T&C sourcebooks. Here’s how.

Gamification
A buzzword and one many in this industry chuckle. Why would our serious financial advisers even contemplate gaming when it comes to the severe issue of self-development? Because it’s the modern way.

Let me explain and show you how to do it:

Why would our serious financial advisers even contemplate gaming when it comes to the severe issue of self-development?

Create the right environment for self-development
Modern learners don’t engage in “sheep dipping” anymore, the days of sending everyone on the same workshop have long gone. This “just in case” style of delivery has its origins in the days before the internet where the trainer or tutor ran a course of instruction because the only other place was in a book. It was easier to create a structured class for tech people, just in case they needed it. So the usuals came out for everyone to attend.

Learners now desire just in time learning. When they need to improve their knowledge or skills because their current job requires it, they learn it. Focused and motivated learners only acquire what they need. They watch YouTube videos, Ted talks, read a book, review a blog, listen to a podcast or audiobook or seek a mentor who can coach them.

I’ve taken care of my self-development since 1995. Each year I determine my learning goals and do it. I spend my own money, I listen to podcasts ferociously, watch YouTube and Ted videos, read a book a month, listen to audiobooks in the gym, attend masterclasses and conferences (usually in London). I own my development and haven’t been sent on a training course for over 30 years, thank goodness.

Modern learners need and desire to take control so let them.
Once you’ve accepted the principle of ownership, you have to let your people get on with it. You can’t force purchase on them, but you can inspire them and create a corporate environment to set them up for ownership. Make sure you do all the general motivation scene-setting:

  • Career paths for everyone, if they want it
  • Access to development if they want it
  • Allow time for development
  • Make the job exciting and enjoyable
  • Ensure your supervision style is right, give them challenges, allow them space to breathe
  • Involve them in decisions, trust them, empower them

Gamify the learning
Drop the term as it inspires a wrong first impression. People might think you’re devaluing it. Just take the principles of game playing and adopt them in your learning strategy. My son Lewis has played games on computers and Xboxes at a very early age and is addicted to them. Games offer:

  • Excitement and variety
  • Real-time feedback on his successes
  • A visceral visual experience
  • Acknowledge of success
  • Varying levels of intensity, achieve success and you move up a level
  • Play whenever you want

Here’s how you can gamify your development in-house.
Design your progression. One client of mine had four levels of progress in their Sales Academy – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum – and outwardly encouraged salespeople to climb these.

Determine how to progress. This is the part you’ll have to think about. How does a salesperson go from Bronze to Silver? You could figure out promotion based on:

  • Competencies attained, for example, an understanding of a primary sales process, how to build rapport
  • Behaviours mastered such as completing the CRM on time
  • Knowledge gained such as a necessary qualification
  • KPIs attuned to according to company standards, excellent customer feedback

You’ll need to assess them somehow, and that might be a presentation of their gains at a conference or meeting. Line managers deal with this not trainers and reward them accordingly with a badge of distinction and promotion to Silver. You may also cross their palm with some silver, so to speak, in the form of a pay rise or monetary bonus, I would.

With each level set out, the next step is to curate their learning opportunities.

Curate the content
This is a significant role for learning professionals. Curate, maybe create as much as you need for the learner to attain the learning they need. They’ll be motivated to pick what they want from your library. You can curate:

  • Videos and podcasts from experts
  • eLearning modules but not 1990’s click to read antiques
  • Online PDF books
  • Access to YouTube and Vimeo on corporate systems and the ability to access the internet in its entirety – trust them. They do the learning on their own devices anyway; corporate networks are always behind the spec needed. It has always been that way. Back in 1995, I had the internet at home way before my company took to it. Nothing has changed in this respect.
  • Twitter updates on sites searched and curated for learners, new blogs, podcasts
  • Workshops that are available
  • Conference live sessions with experts and trainers.
  • Put everything on a learning management system so they can access everything 24/7 home or at work but don’t use this just as verification and audit tool to see that they completed the annual sheep dip for manual handling or health and safety at work.
  • While on the “don’ts” – don’t shadow people or job rotate. Shadowing the top performer is the worst thing you can do for someone on Bronze. It’s a cop-out for the sales manager who hasn’t the time to coach, annoys the top performer who isn’t a coach and just wants to get on with selling. Job rotation is totally unproductive for the business.

Invest in some AI – automated intelligent software – that can crawl the web hoovering up content for your learners to use, advertise this on Twitter or email alerts to your learners. You do not need to reinvent the wheel, but you may want to make it easier for your learners to search for what they need to move to Platinum.

Field coaching
Invest in training for all managers and help them to develop into first-class field coaches. Learners will need to help with their learning. Where to go, how to consume knowledge, motivation and encouragement, on the job feedback and development…just in time. This element is essential don’t forget it. Managers will have their gamified progression anyway, so may it easy for them to learn how to coach.

Broker Case Study
Here’s an example of a mortgage brokerage and how they gamified their learning:

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About Author

Paul Archer is the founder and Managing Director of Archer Training Ltd, a specialist training provider that brings practical sales and coaching skills to financial services firms. Paul has published 8 books and is a regular blogger and YouTuber - www.paularcher.tv and can be contacted at paul@paularcher.com.

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