What do you hope to accomplish here and beyond? Right now, my here is “Degreed.”

When I was prompted with this question, it was a month after I joined Degreed. Founder, David Blake, led with his curiosity that day and asked us about our hopes and dreams. It’s the kind of question some of us dread (enter: Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation). But oh boy do I ever love this kind of stuff. I have Leslie Knope levels of enthusiasm about it.

One of the reasons I embrace this question is because I ponder similar questions often. Such as: What are my core and peripheral gifts? Which ones are needed for whom and when? The answers to these questions are how I make sure that I’m aligned with my “Why.” The more I understand why I join, serve, labor, or otherwise share my gifts, the more I can bring my full self to whatever I do.

I framed my answer to David’s question with three goals:

1) what I hope to accomplish here (at Degreed),
2) what I hope to accomplish next,
3) what I hope to accomplish before death.

Responses are italicized below:

  1. Hope to accomplish here: Reframe learning for individuals and organizations.
  2. Hope to accomplish next: Untether and experience the world as a digital nomad. City hop and country hop while working remotely until marriage or health forces me to re-anchor.
  3. Hope to accomplish before death (key theme for eulogy):
    • Friend to the forgotten (someone who upheld dignity in the final stages of life for hospice patients).
    • Storyteller-in-residence for my daughter. (someone who coached more than dictated, who inspired more than proscribed. We read together a lot and share a love of stories. I want her to remember me as a guide and not a warden).
    • Hacker of expertise (Real estate broker. Architect. Doctor. And whatever else I reach for next. I want to demystify the cult of hidden titles and inspire others to be boldly curious).
    • Creator of beautiful experiences(Delightful architecture. Global Excursions, Walking Classrooms).
    • A fulfilled Legacy (someone that brings pride to my tribe, here in the states and in my father’s country of Eritrea).

My core gift is to be a herald. Some characterize their gifts by identifying it as a spirit animal, MBTI type, mythical assignment, or divine purpose. After exploring the many paths to self-discovery and being described as a foxy ENTP that might be a “3rd-grade teacher with a secret life,” I simplified mine to herald. I’ll explain.

Goal #1 (Hope to accomplish here) Explained: Each day, I serve to reframe learning for individuals and organizations by heralding the promise of this brave new world of learner-led experiences. I have many assignments in my current role, but I thrive most in those face-to-face or virtual modalities where I can show and share the path. It flows naturally and I could do it for hours on end with unwavering delight. My core gift provides the fuel to perform not from a place of obligation, but from a place of joy.

Goal #2 (Hope to accomplish next) Explained: As much as I enjoy sharing my gifts through my work, I enjoy recharging and soaking up the beauty of the world. Before using the Degreed mobile app, I was missing some visibility into my own curiosities and personal growth. Meticulous as I am, I tried to close this gap by journaling my ideas and learning into a Google form that fed into a Gsheet, complete with quantitative and qualitative questions. The problem with that is…I would only use it once a month or so. Now, when I’m riding in a cab in NYC I can kill time by reading articles in my feed or capture the hours of learning spent listening to an audiobook while on a flight. And the app captures it all for me, making it easy to track and cultivate that habit of learning. Given my love of data, seeing what I’ve learned tracked in one place along with my trending topics and interests offers me exciting insights.

Goal #3 (Hope to accomplish before death) Explained: This is the long view. It answers the question “How do I hope to be remembered?” Without expanding on all the bullets, I’ll end with a story. I received a text a few weeks ago from the volunteer manager at an organization where I normally serve as a hospice patient care volunteer. She needed help with an event. I checked my calendar and responded with “Yes.” I arrived at my post at 7:55am on a Saturday and was charged with directing cars at the lower level of the parking deck until 9:15am. She mentioned that she was disappointed because the other volunteer was a no-show. I was instructed to guide arriving guests to park and go to the lobby where they will wait to be escorted to the rooftop restaurant venue. Not only was I unbothered the other volunteer was a no-show, I was excited. Why? I would have the privilege of being the first person they encountered–to wield the power to set the tone for the guest experience.

What the volunteer manager did not know was that I had been hired to greet visitors and deliver presentations at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, VMworld in Barcelona, CES in Las Vegas, CES in Shanghai, Bett Show in London,  to name a few. I was about to show up in that parking deck in the most magical way for these people– for free and with a huge smile! What you learn from working with industry titans at events on that scale is that your message is bigger than your talking points. My mission was not to give the arriving guests a list of instructions on how to get to the lobby. My mission was to surround them with warmth and confirm that “Hear Ye, Hear Ye: We’ve been waiting for you! Welcome!”

Most of the guests who arrived were kinda sorta sure they were in the right parking deck. Each time they tentatively drove in and rolled down the window, I knew why they were there. No one else was hosting an early morning event. But I still let the experience unfold for each person by asking “Hi there, are you here for Missing our Mothers?” Each time, they would answer “Yes.” And each time I would start their journey with “You’re in the right place! And we’re so glad you’re here!” Each time they would smile. Then I would tell them next steps.

That wasn’t on my list of talking points. That was the core gift of knowing the difference between reciting instructions and heralding good news. Each of those women were at this event to celebrate the memory of their mother– mothers they do not have when others are with their mommies on Mother’s Day. No matter whether the volunteer post was to be an emcee (that job was taken by a famous journalist) or to play a medley on a violin or to park a car, every moment of the guest experience at that event was meaningful. We all made sure of it. What an honor it was for me to be their first smile.

Truth be told, 9:15am came all too quickly. Most unexpectedly, when I finished my shift I enjoyed a front-row seat at a reserved table to enjoy the program. All because I said “Yes” and I showed up. That other volunteer really missed out– maybe she thought it was just about parking cars.

So I leave you with this question: What are your core and peripheral gifts?

Consider how you practice using them and what you hope to accomplish with them wherever you are. Continue to build your collection of learning and tag them with skills to look for patterns. And remember that the more you understand about your gifts, the more you can unlock experiences that help you bring a fullness, a purpose, and an enthusiasm to all that you do!

I have been around in the learning space for approximately 25 years and been known to make my share of assumptions, quick judgments and mistakes. I have also been known to be very excited and passionate about learning. I have been privileged to be a part of some incredible learning journeys that had lasting impacts on organizations, and also ones that have been a failure. I am here to share some of my most valuable lessons with you.

One of the common threads in the demise of a corporate learning rollout (guilty!) is a myopic view of communications, course descriptions, and change management approaches.  So much is focused on the corporate initiative and why this will be good for the company and so little is really focused on the employee.

From a learning veteran, here are 3 lessons learning leaders could adopt to be more successful with initiatives.

  1. It’s not you… But it is.

When we roll out new tech, all the employee hears is “another program that we will get excited about for the next several months and then it’s just another program.”  You know you’re guilty of a one-dimensional launch when you hear the dreaded excuse: “I don’t have time for learning.”  Employees are really telling you “I don’t see value in taking time.” It’s the same thing you heard when your High School love broke up with you – “It’s not you, It’s me.”  But really, it is you. When bringing in something new, be sure to highlight the value to the employees. Over and over again.

  1. So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance.

We know it – our employees can be selfish. Most of the time, we’ve got one shot to get it done right. If not, it’s very hard to get them back again.

The solution? Everything you do from the beginning of your learning program needs to be marketed solely to employees. I mean EVERYTHING! The communications and change management efforts but also when you are building out governance. Make sure you focus on the employee in your learning descriptions and /or anything from your program that requires your learner to take action.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • If your life depended on someone opening this course, how would you market it to your learner?
  • Does your course description sound fun and interesting?
  • Does it sound like another corporate learning course that will put you to sleep in 2 minutes and ask you a bunch of irrelevant questions that will make you feel stupid?

Employees are judging the book by the cover but you have the power! You are the one that has the ability to get them to buy what you are selling.

  1. You don’t know Jack. Or Jane.

Research. Ask them. Find out what attracts them, and then do it! “Customer is always right,” right? The success of all your efforts is based on getting them excited about your new program and once it’s not new anymore. Bring sexy back!

The world of learning can be a wonderful place – you just have to open their eyes. I hope this lesson inspired you.

80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week in February. Just 6 weeks after setting a resolution, the vast majority of people quickly realize their goals are unattainable. Setting unrealistic goals can be de-motivating for yourself and the teams you lead. Conversely, setting realistic goals can lead to inspiration and transformative change.

Sometimes it’s not easy to see transformation in-progress. In 2014, I lost 20 pounds when training for a marathon. I didn’t notice the daily changes to my body, but when I saw friends, they noted my weight loss as dramatic and transformational.

Learning is not that different from exercise; both benefit from attainable and clear goals that act as stepping stones throughout the process of change.

Here are 4 pointers to help guide you in setting achievable goals for L&D.

  1. Know the difference between a Point B and a North Star

Many of the organizations using Degreed seek a self-driven learning culture, where learners are empowered to drive their development. We encourage that vision, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Just like a North Star guiding a ship — it’s a directional aim that makes sure you’re headed in the right direction. However, the path to achieving that vision is formed from a series of milestones that transform your organization’s learning culture over time and in manageable increments. To start, assign each quarter of the year a clear milestone that serves as your stepping stones to achieving that greater vision. These quarterly goals are the Point B, Point C, and Point D on your way to a North Star.

  1. Set goals you can control

Whenever possible, set goals that you directly control. When there’s “skin in the game”, no one will work harder to achieve a goal. Things always take longer than you think when depending on other people. Rightfully so — those people have their own goals and priorities. If you’re focused on setting goals where you control all the levers, you can move more quickly. As an L&D team, you’ll likely need to work cross-functionally to enable learning in all parts of the organization. You’re your goals do depend on other teams, you’ll need to work hard to influence and lobby others to prioritize your initiatives.

  1. Attach measurable metrics to your goals and adjust when necessary

Picture yourself at the end of the year or the end of the quarter. You don’t want to come to the end unsure whether you achieved your goals. So before you even begin, establish clear metrics to track against on a regular basis, so that you can tell whether or not you’re headed in the right direction. Those goals should be tracked monthly, if not weekly. The more quickly you can identify whether you’re headed in the wrong direction, the more quickly you can adjust your tactics.

For example, let’s say one of your L&D Goals is to create a more social learning experience. How will you measure that result? You could measure through a survey that queries your learners, but you could also measure changes in takeaways, recommendations, or followers on Degreed as an indicator of that collaboration. Seeing clear increases in the sharing of learning items is correlated to more social learning.

  1. Determine specific tactics and strategies that support each goal.

If the goal is the end result, the tactics are the levers you pull to enable that end result. Most likely, you’ll need to deploy a handful of tactics , and these are the projects you’re going to do in the day-to-day to work towards the goal.

Tying it to learning, one of your goals might be to retain top talent in your organization. One supporting tactic to achieve that goal may be to enable FlexED (Degreed’s flexible spending account) to reward top talent and invest in their learning. A secondary tactic could be to establish a mentorship program, where you pair top talent with executives. A third could be to use skills ratings to show the learners progress and how much they are learning in their organization over time. These tactics support the achievement of the greater goal and are much more actionable. Remember that each of these tactics should come attached with specific measurable metrics. Even your top-level goal should have metrics, by measuring the churn rate of your top talent.

While these four suggestions can help you to start your year more effectively, your goals may shift throughout the year. External factors can cause priorities to shift, resources grow and shrink, so in my next post, I’ll talk through how to recognize when your goals need to change.

  • Do I need to completely change things, or just tweak them?
  • Is the goal wrong or are your tactics not effective?
  • How can I get to the core of why things aren’t working?

Ready to get started? Get going! and stay tuned for Part 2.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide songs being sung by the choir …”

“Oh wait, hang on one sec, I just need to check in on work real quick.”

“Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow …”

“Oh, you know what, I should post this to Instagram. That mistletoe is just perfect.”

“Will find it hard to sleep tonight

The holidays are a special time filled with family, friends, old traditions and new memories. It is a special time filled with the opportunity to connect with one another, to share meals, to share conversation and laughs, to share gifts and the moments that matter.

Something is lost though. Something is lost when the flicker of a screen replaces the flicker of a fire. Something is lost when the bright red alert of a new email consumes our attention instead of the bright red noses of kids coming in from playing in the snow. Something is lost when instead of time spent with family making dinner, our attention is with work, with our technology. Something is lost when we are physically present but mentally remote and connected to our tech.

This isn’t news. We already know this. There are countless articles on the benefits of disconnecting from technology. We already feel the pang of guilt when we check in instead of focusing on our family and friends. We already know that social media detracts from our real-life social lives. We already know that the moments we spend checking in are moments stolen from our families, stolen from our friends, stolen from the memories we will one day wish we had.

christmas-quote-hills

We have all sorts of excuses. It’ll be quick. I need to stay on top of it so I don’t have 100 emails when I get back to work. It’s just one short reply. My family likes it when I post photos. It won’t take that long. We all have our excuses and they are just that: excuses.

So this year, drop the excuses and celebrate yourself. You need a break from the totally connected life, we all do. You understand the value of turning off. And the end of the year is a perfect time to power down and to give yourself a mental break. It will do wonders for you. It will do wonders for your career. It will help you to recharge, to refresh your energy, to reignite your creativity and imagination, and help you start the new year inspired. 

The holidays are a special time. Or they can be. This year, unplug. Give yourself, give your family, give your friends something truly special: the unplugged version of yourself. The disconnected version. The full color, fully present, fully in the moment version of yourself. Give yourself time away from the screen. Give yourself permission to fully experience your holiday. In real-time. There is no better gift. There is no better time.

From all of us at Degreed, we wish you and yours a peaceful, relaxing holiday.

As the year draws to a close, I spend some time reflecting on how I spent the year.  With coffee in hand on a cold Minnesota morning, I consider various things: What did I accomplish this year?  What did I learn? What skills did I develop?

All of this thinking then leads to the anticipation for the new year.  What skills should I develop next year?

Maybe you’ve done something similar reflecting on your accomplishments.  But, why do we wait until the end of the year for introspection?

I suppose it’s because we’ve associated the end of the year with the annual performance review that organizations deploy: filling out forms, struggling to recall accomplishments and skills developed throughout the year and wondering how to put into words what you will accomplish 12 months from now.

Been there, done that.  It can feel frustrating.

Truthfully, the end-of-year annual performance process is an outdated process and many organizations have moved away from the annual review, but many have not.

If you’re lucky enough, you might be employed by a company that has evolved to ongoing feedback and regular development discussions with your manager.  Be thankful, if that’s you!  I hope you’re actively engaged in collaboratively building a skill development plan that aligns with your career goals and growth.

At Degreed, I used our Skill Development Plan feature to create a personal development plan where I’ve identified a few key skills I’d like to develop.  I’ve self-rated my level in each skill and set targets of where I’d like to be with each skill.  I’m beginning to work with my leadership team to coach me along the way.

But if continuous feedback and ongoing mentoring does not describe your current experience in your workplace, please keep reading!  The good news: there is hope. Sure, your manager should be there to help and coach you, but YOU are ultimately in control of developing your skills.

As you navigate through the annual review process and begin the new year with goal-setting, go into it with a new mindset. Initiate your learning and development plans with your manager.  Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Be proactive in building a development plan to improve your skills. This means thinking about and writing down your career goals, or the next role you are interested in pursuing, etc.
  • Think of areas that you want to grow your expertise or think of new skills you’d like to learn about and develop – it doesn’t have to be a long list.  Start with one skill.
  • Ask your manager to help you build a development plan with learning resources you can benefit from.
  • Find and ask a mentor for career development and guidance.
  • Seek and use learning resources you can find on Degreed or elsewhere.

Whatever the case, be proactive in making a personal development plan to build current or develop new skills.

I’ve been lucky to have worked for various organizations and managers who have implemented continuous feedback and development discussions in conjunction with a full year performance review.  The common thread was the honest and transparent discussions with my manager of where I would like to develop my skills.  Start with questions like “how am I doing in my role?” and have an answer for  “where and how do I want to progress in my career?”  The key: build a development plan collaboratively.

If you don’t have a way to begin to track and measure your skill development, consider signing up for a Degreed account.  It’s free! And if you have Degreed, add your skills to your profile and accurately rate your level of expertise.  Better yet, certify your skills through Degreed Skill Certification.

As you reflect on your accomplishments and your learning and development this year, ask yourself: What did I learn this year?…In what areas did I develop my skills? How do I want to grow my skills next year?  Take 5 minutes right now to put your development plan into action!

I was valedictorian of my high school class. One of five actually – in a graduating class of 44 students. Needless to say, it was a very competitive environment with perhaps a somewhat flawed measurement system. I fought for the achievement, though, and consider myself a strong learner still, priding myself on my curiosity, critical thinking, and capability to make connections between new and existing knowledge.

What I have never been is a very “social” learner. At least not in the sense that was measured in high school and college. I despised having to achieve that part of my grade based on class participation, because to me, the things that helped me to learn – curiosity, critical thinking, making connections – happened internally, and not by sharing my thoughts with others.

It’s a bit curious then that I’ve spent the last 10 years or so of my career tangled in the power of social learning. When I think about why, it comes down to this: being “social” while learning isn’t just about helping me learn, but rather helping those around me to learn, too. And I find it immensely fulfilling to help others to learn.

So what is the big fuss about social learning?

In a few words, it’s powerful and preferred. And really, just starting to take off.

From Degreed’s How the Workforce Learns report:
Workers have more options for development than ever before, but they still want guidance. When they need to learn something new, though, they are most likely to ask their boss or mentor (69%) or their colleagues (55%) for recommendations.

From the same report, we know that more mature learning organizations deliver 13% more learning via social interaction.

hiimp

Human behaviorists have their own body of research on why we learn with and from others. For many people, it is helpful to their own learning when they dialogue with others. If that describes you, you probably naturally gravitate to the social aspects of learning: sharing, recommending, adding comments, rating content, because those are the ways you improve your own skill.

Those of us who reflect internally in order to learn may not immediately see the value of recommending content, leaving comments on it, or providing ratings. Experiencing the value of social learning though, I would now recommend that we internal learners shift our paradigm a bit.

Consider that rather than helping the individual learn (whether the individual person or someone else), these social experiences help others learn, providing value beyond myself and instead to others. Think about it: when you are choosing articles to read, videos to watch, podcasts to subscribe to – do you look at the ratings? Do you read or skim comments from others before making your final selection? I do too.

We can contribute to the social ecosystem even more by creating original content with things like social posts, articles, videos, and podcasts that we upload and share with others. The value of sharing knowledge is great, and the need for perfectly produced products is decreasing, allowing everyone to have a voice.

So as you take the few moments to rate, comment, share or recommend, think about all of the value you’re driving to future content seekers, and the extra learning you may be gaining for yourself.

In high school, it seemed really hard to find that right moment to raise my hand and share my thoughts in front of the entire class. But with this mindset shift, sharing learning today is easy, and that is better than any participation points!

Degreed prides itself on quality – quality team, quality clients and most importantly, quality product. We have an agile development team and culture. When I started the Customer Support team at Degreed, I had to ask myself, ‘how does lean agile development affect customer support?’

What makes an agile development culture different? Product changes occur at an especially fast rate. These product changes need to be conveyed and understood by the client in order for the client to best utilize and realize the value of our product. For this to happen the changes also need to be fully understood by the customer support team.

At most organizations, the customer support team serves as the “front line” for end users – the main group supporting and delivering product updates and changes to clients. Therefore, the most important attribute I look for in my team members, in addition to someone that is customer focused, is someone who loves to learn. We need to continually learn and grow with the product in order to best support our end-users.

It’s no surprise that there are new things to learn about each product release. As a team, we need to understand what is being added or changed, with a deep knowledge of how everything works. One specific example comes to mind: when we changed the look and feel of our profile page. As a team, we had to understand more than just that the profile was getting a face lift. We had to understand the intricacies, and where popular (or not!) items may have shifted for an improved experience.  And it’s a good thing we took time to dig deep because the most popular questions over the following weeks started with “Where can I find…”

As a customer success team, we have to be ready for any and everything, which is why the desire to learn is such an important trait for us. Just the other day, I received a call from one of our end-users asking about the layout of Degreed pathways and if the style was flexible. In the couple years I have been at Degreed, that question had never been asked. But I’ve learned serving in a customer support function means being willing and eager to ask the tough questions, knowing our product inside and out because we can’t anticipate every question that is going to come our way.

Luckily, my team proves they are up to the task time and time again. We are available for clients daily while also showing dedication to individual skill development via our internal company leaderboard for most active learning teams. Number one every quarter so far, the customer service team at Degreed is proud to show commitment to both our product and our clients.

So what are some tactics the Degreed customer service team uses for helping the members of our team stay informed and continually learning about the product?

  • bi-weekly product review for the entire company
  • weekly Learning Forum held by the client experience team where we discuss learning topics and ask questions, so we can all stay up to date on messaging
  • weekly team meetings (for my team specifically) where we can ask questions or get help from each other
  • product release review meeting (for my team specifically) where we discuss the release in depth and how it could affect both our users and the team

We are also starting to review upcoming release items from the view of the end user so we can brainstorm what consumers might need and to increase our ability to be prepared.

As I go back to my question at the beginning ‘how does lean agile development affect customer support?’ The answer is simple: we have to value learning.

Vernon Howard said, “Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”  I firmly believe, and lead my team with the same mentality, that if we stop learning, we cannot help our users.

What are some things your customer support team does to continuously learn?

 

In the midst of the learning transformation happening today, we are seeing a new approach to bringing together technology, access to content and people, and dynamic user experiences that are shaped by human dynamics.  These learning ecosystems are supporting the need to be continually learning, filtering in the overwhelm of access to massive amounts of content, and bringing together connections amongst networks that enable learners to share, mentor and develop lifelong skills.

These learning ecosystems of today’s hyper-connected and networked world incorporate the best of all aspects that the latest technologies and support resources can deliver. They also strive to be simple to access, completely intuitive for the end user and personalized.  Although the concept may seem easy to explain, in reality, it certainly isn’t simple to determine the right foundation with the perfect mix of technologies and support resources needed to make it deliver on all expectations.

Building sustaining learning ecosystems requires a shift in mindsets.  It is critical to have an experimental mindset in creating a learning ecosystem in order to ensure it is future proof.  Also having a learner-driven, growth mindset in establishing the foundation based on the principles of human dynamics solidifies that it is grounded and strong enough to withstand the tumultuous changes yet to come. If it is built based on the learner needs, the human dynamics drive the design, then it becomes more than just the latest fad in a grouping of the hottest technologies but rather it becomes a foundational ecosystem that can evolve with the changing systems that operate it and drive the adoption and engagement anticipated.

As Degreed states in it’s Buyer’s Guide to the Near Future of Learning Technology, “Change is fast and increasingly unpredictable, making it a challenge for individuals and organizations to keep pace with the skills required to solve today’s problems.  It’s no longer enough to simply be competent on the job.  Everyone needs to keep on learning – indefinitely .”

What impacts the success and fortitude of learning ecosystems is the foundation it arises from.  Human dynamics, the study of how people work as a whole system – mentally, physically, and emotionally can spur that foundational story behind what fuels an ecosystem.  It becomes the energy source for the “why” and the architecture in building an ideal and sustaining learning ecosystem.  When built from an innovative, adaptable and connected foundation rooted in human dynamics, a learning ecosystem can evolve and withstand the unpredictability of the shifts that rock foundations.

Not sure what to put in your ecosystem? Stop by Degreed booth 3325 at the HR Technology conference. If you’re not at HR Tech, check out the Degreed website to create your own lifelong learning transcript.

Every week. Every day. Every few hours. You’re challenged with immediate problems to solve and issues to overcome. In another hour, something is going to come across your inbox or instant message window and you are going to have to react. You will have to respond. You will have to drop what you’re doing. Some burning item will come up and you’ll need to fix it.

sticky

Urgent matters come in all varieties in the Customer Success and services world. Each one is more important than the last and desperately needs attention. The issue might be finalizing a single sign on integration for an upcoming launch or it could be some metrics needed for a client briefing that snuck up on you.

Many of your HR and Learning & Development peers are presented with similar challenges. Their situation might be about a deliverable getting off track on a timeline or a group of people not completing their past-due compliance training.

Meanwhile, your “To Do List” is getting longer and longer on the other side of your desk. The important projects you have been setting aside, the ones that will require planning and work across functional lines are not kicking off. And you’re not strategically advancing the big things that matter most.

What are you going to do? How do you manage what is urgent versus what is most important?

Solving this daily challenge takes planning. It takes finding the right balance on how you allocate your time.  Dedicating time to strategic efforts takes rigor and discipline. Always attending to the most pressing topics (and putting off the important ones) doesn’t let your organization efficiently progress at achieving larger goals.

This is what works for me and how I deal with what is most important.

MakisChart

I usually go outside with pen and paper for the focus part.  I unplug and change the scenery.  It works every time.

Now it’s your turn to get it done.

Urgent requests are not going to stop. Look…there’s another one that just came in on your phone. Carve out the time to plan ahead before you don’t have time at all. Focus on what will lead to the best results. Strengthen this behavior by making it a habit. You’ll be more successful by committing time to the important things and your customers will be better off for it.

Though in learning now, I started my career in Direct Marketing and Loyalty Card Marketing and Product Development (yes, apologies for calls interrupting your dinner and your exploding mailbox…) I pivoted into HR and led the L&D Technology Products and Implementations for a Fortune 500 Bank. Having to re-invent myself and learn rapidly, I’ve become both fascinated and intrigued at the parallels of marketing and learning. More importantly, I’ve become convinced that L&D could use some marketing love!

But what marketers figured out (and where L&D professionals could benefit) was how we used data to get the right offer to the right customer at the right time while delivering an aspirational customer experience. The result? Engaged customers, changed behavior, and customers coming back for more.
Everyone in L&D and HR is currently obsessed with employee engagement. This has only been increased by everyone trying to figure out how to capitalize on both digital and social transformations, and their impact on employees, work and the workforce. Despite this, nobody is buying what we’re selling in L&D. We need to appeal to our learners, but “appealing” is a marketing problem, not a learning one.

Deloitte data says that nearly 7 out of 10 people they surveyed indicated they’re having a hard time getting workers to engage with L&D offerings.

engagement1

I believe the key to achieving success is treating our learners like customers, and then understanding just who they are – the demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, and buying experience/behaviors. You then use that knowledge to cater the message and experience – delivering compelling, relevant offers and products that are meaningful and aspirational.
To understand your customers, I suggest you start by creating learner personas by segmenting your learners based on demographics, goals, motivations, frustrations, daily activities, learning needs and touchpoints. Google definition of a Persona: A persona, (also user persona, customer persona, buyer persona) is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of a specific segment.
You might have 2 personas, you might have 10. But the goal of a persona is to group your learners into categories around goals, challenges and how they operate.

Here is an example.

tucker

Here are 5 marketing practices you can use to increase engagement after defining your customer.

  1. Brand – develop a compelling aspirational brand and value proposition that is relevant for your employee segments. This includes compelling creative (look and feel), communication and messaging. (Think Nike!)
  2. Design – personalize the experience and make them want what you are “selling,” and make it personal. (Think Apple!)
  3. Market – target, make the offer and sell. And make them want to come back for more. (Think about the last time you went to Amazon to buy those killer heels. It starts with serving up relevant experiences, and more expensive shoes with each interaction!)
  4. Listen – get feedback, measure, and use the data collected to adjust. (Simple as thumbs up or down!)
  5. Loyalty – build a continuous relationship with your employees by communicating regularly. (All the retailers above do that well!)

The results
Understanding your customer, the employees, are the key to ensuring you deliver the right experience and get the engagement you expect for your L&D programs and technologies — and a return on your investment. Feel free to check out my recent ATD Webinar on How to Think Like a Marketer. It provides several specific marketing techniques learning practitioners can leverage in their daily work.

So, what are you doing to better understand your employees and encourage them to engage with what you are selling? We would love to hear your ideas!

Page 1 of 212
Menu