Establishing a Habit of Learning

In 5 Steps

Establishing a Habit of Learning

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

to Empower Your Learners

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

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.

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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.

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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!

Even the concept of a career wasn’t immune to today’s disruption. People are changing jobs at record rates, working for more companies doing a variety of jobs throughout their career, and they aren’t immediately cashing out and retiring at 60. Likely at the root of the radicalization of the career is a simple, basic fact: people are living longer.

As said by the authors of the 100-year life in an article for MIT Sloan, “If life expectancy continues to grow at the rate of two to three years every decade, as it has done over the last 150 years, then a child born in Japan in 2007 will have a more than 50% chance of living past the age of 107.”

This translates into 60 – 70-year careers. To stay relevant and employed, the workforce will need to deepen their skills numerous times, and might even want to re-skill entirely in new areas.

“Individuals will take an interest in skills with value that extends beyond the current employer and sector. Skills and knowledge that are portable and externally accredited will be particularly valuable,” wrote Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott in their recent Research feature, The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives.

While ultimately responsible, it’s not just the individual that has a role in continuous development.

The most successful organizations are supporting employees for their roles now and in the future, recognizing their best investment is their people. Top talent is likely the most engaged, and thus, retaining (and attracting!) these people will be a key driver of business outcomes and success.

To keep up, Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report suggests chief learning officers (CLOs) must now become the catalysts for next-generation careers. “They should deliver learning solutions that inspire people to reinvent themselves, develop deep skills, and contribute to the learning of others,” states the report.

Gratton and Scott suggest decentralized and flexible approaches to learning that are driven more by the learner than the employer.

So how do we help our employees deepen the skills they need now, as well as support future development?

To enable learning leaders to better target their learning and development (L&D) investments and help companies close skill gaps, Degreed recently announced a major upgrade to its personalization engine with the release of skill plans.

Leveraging BurningGlass data and machine learning, Degreed’s innovative platform automatically recommends a daily feed of learning resources focused on the skills required for a person’s current job as well as their professional interests and career goals.

“Resolving the persistent gap between the skills employees have – and the ones they need to move into new roles – requires sophisticated personalization capabilities. These recent product upgrades are a giant leap forward for Degreed’s ability to help our users build and recognize the expertise they need for the future,” commented Degreed’s CEO and co-founder David Blake.

Skill plans empower organizations in four main ways:

  • Give purpose to learning activity by tying learning to skills, and skills to roles in your organization.
  • Customize these roles with the competencies and skills that fit your company.
  • Assign employees to specific roles, which will automatically link them to associated learning content.
  • Create learning pathways, and link them to roles.

Want to see what skill plans can do for your organization? Create your Degreed profile today.

Learning is changing faster than L&D departments can keep up:

“Fifty-six percent of current workforce skill sets do not match the changes in their company’s strategy, goals, markets, or business models.”  — ATD, Bridging the Skills Gap, 2015  

However, forward thinking CLO’s have found success creating learner-driven organizations that empower workers to share their knowledge and take ownership of their own personal development. This is a new way of thinking, leaving many L&D leaders struggling to identify the right combination of tools and skills within their teams.

As leaders look at upgrading technologies and capabilities within their organizations, there’s a legitimate fear that their leap forward won’t take them to the front — that they’ll continue to be behind their competition.

It’s an important time for corporate learning leadership to take stock of their learning investments, and create the strategies and solutions that will take them through the next decades.

So where can you start?

First, better understand the capabilities you should be optimizing for in The Buyer’s Guide to The Near Future of Learning Technology from Degreed.

 

Sorry to break the bad news. Your degree doesn’t matter. Your BA or BS doesn’t mean I should hire you. Your MBA doesn’t mean you know how to run a business. The name of the school you went to … meh. Your degree doesn’t matter. At least not as much as you think it does.

As a former HR Professional and veteran of HR tech industry, Degreed crystallized something I have always felt but didn’t put words to – your degree simply doesn’t matter. It is true your degree is an important record of your training on the fundamentals (math, history, language, bowling, etc.) and learning how to think critically. It is an important step in lifelong learning but it simply doesn’t matter as much as what you have learned since you graduated. Your BA isn’t as valuable as your recent learning in determining readiness or qualifications for a job. Your MBA doesn’t make you a better manager than someone who has helped grow a business and stays current with reading on entrepreneurship and leadership.

Simply, your degree doesn’t matter as much as your lifelong learning. Jeff Weiner summed it up well at a recent conference, “increasingly I hear this mantra: skills not degrees. It’s not skills at the exclusion of degrees. It is just expanding our perspective to go beyond degrees.” Degreed is “jailbreaking the degree.” Degreed is offering a way to demonstrate the learning that does matter.

Having started my career in Human Resources and having built and scaled global Customer Success teams at several fast-growing companies, I have had the opportunity to interview thousands of people. One of my favorite questions has always been, “Why did you go to college, what did you study and how did that lead to where you are today?” A three part interview question? Cue eye roll, I know.

For me, it had nothing to do with the school, the level of degree or even the subject. That’s interesting, but candidly, has never mattered to me that much. What I do find interesting is the insights into the individual and how they have leveraged that foundation to learn and grow through their career. “Oh… I have a degree in history because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I have always been interested in the Civil War. But after graduating, I …” or “I have a degree in math because I love technical analysis but after graduating I found that I hate being stuck in spreadsheets all day so I ….

The honesty in many of the answers can lead to an interesting discussion. The way candidates connect higher education to their career and lifelong learning is a great indication of what they are bringing to the table. It is an interesting insight into the Why of their career. It is almost rare anymore to find someone who went to school and received a degree in the same area as their current profession. Art History majors celebrate! There is hope.

Even if your degree is perfectly aligned with the job you want, I want to know what you have been doing since.

The problem? Many recruiters and HR organizations are still measuring you by your college degree because that’s the standard they have had to measure learning. I know I am not the only HR professional or hiring manager that knows the degree isn’t an effective measure of your skills and capabilities. I doubt any effective hiring manager is making offers on a degree alone. But that is all most of us have known. Or it was anyways. Now we have Degreed.

Imagine if you could demonstrate everything you learned since your degree. All of the relevant articles, papers, and books you have read that equip you to succeed in your job. Imagine a record of the conferences, webinars, and workshops you have attended that have helped you prepare for the job you want. If you could represent that to your organization, or future employers, wouldn’t that be more valuable than saying you have a history degree from 10 years ago? Wouldn’t you want that Corporate Recruiter to understand what you have learned in since? That’s meaningful and something that I would want to hear about when interviewing you. Meet Degreed.

So what have you been learning since you graduated?

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Our teachers are given incredible responsibility – to grow the minds of our future leaders. And at some point, you may have wondered, how do these selfless individuals get trained for such a big task? It may seem obvious – a college degree and ongoing certifications. But you might be surprised to find out that “most states don’t have certification for computer science so most teachers in K12 have no education in computer science,” shared Mark Nelson, Ph.D., and Executive Director for the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

Despite the demand from the larger economy, “fewer than 10% of schools offer a computer science program,” added Dr. Nelson. This means that many computer science teachers actually come from different disciplines – math, science, continuing tech education such as business or IT, even gym and Spanish.

So how are they finding the resources they need to be effective computer science teachers when some have had little to no training in this space?

Many come to CSTA, a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines at the K-12/pre university level. Recently, Degreed partnered with CSTA to create the first-of-its-kind professional development (PD) platform for K-12 computer science teachers, known as the Continuing Professional Development Pipeline (CPD Pipeline).

The CPD Pipeline is designed to address a key challenge in K-12 computer science education: growing the pool of teachers who are both competent and confident in teaching computer science concepts and practices.

“In capability and philosophy, Degreed and CSTA were a match,” commented Dr. Nelson. “But what struck us was the initial conversations with Degreed made us rethink the whole situation. Our problem wasn’t in providing training, it was a workforce development problem. We needed to make sure our workforce was continually learning, growing and had the skills that matched the current workforce.”

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With a new sense of purpose, CSTA wanted a solution that could supply teachers with 5 core learning components:

1)        self-assessments of skills, interests, and experience

2)        personalized PD roadmaps to guide the process

3)        digital badging, with support from Badgr;

4)        link to the computer science community to connect with other teachers, tackle challenges and celebrate wins; digital portfolios to showcase PD and manage career paths.

“We are proud and excited for the opportunity to partner with CSTA to transform the way K12 computer science teachers access and benefit from meaningful and relevant Professional Development programs,” shared David Blake, CEO and co-founder of Degreed. “In leveraging Degreed, CSTA will be able to help any number of teachers advance their professional development and certification in computer science, in turn, giving even more students access to the information and knowledge needed to build their own skills and expertise.”

While CSTA is excited about the user-friendly environment and learning pathways provided by Degreed, Dr. Nelson is inspired by what the future could bring. “This could be a new way to teacher certification – this could be huge in terms of rethinking how certification happens in K12,” he said.

We thank CSTA for their dedication to skill development and the future – for all they are doing to educate our teachers and for the significant role they play in bettering the futures of our students.

Interested in becoming a creator of technology instead of just a consumer? Check out the CPD Pipeline here. And if you’re an Association interested in driving member engagement and creating your own learning pathways on any subject,  Degreed can help.

 

Alan Walton is a data scientist at Degreed, but he didn’t start at Degreed with that job title.

Alan got a degree in math, with a minor in logic, and then landed his first job as a developer. Data science is currently one of the hottest jobs in America, but the term “data science” has only recently emerged. It was not a career that Alan had even heard of when he was in school. Like most millennials, Alan tried a few different jobs. His first job out of college was working for a startup where he wore a lot of hats. He worked on integrations, technical support, implementation, and technical writing. Alan started at Degreed as a developer, then worked as a product manager, and now a data scientist.

Alan’s career agility is enabled by his passion for learning. While in college, Alan’s quest for knowledge led him to learn speed reading. But, when walking through the university library one day, a quick calculation led him to realize that even when speed reading, it would still take him 200 years to read every book in the library. He knew he needed an alternative way to focus his learning.

Before Alan started working at Degreed, he stumbled upon Degreed online and became one of its first beta users in 2013. Alan has now accumulated nearly 40,000 points on his Degreed profile, which might make him the highest point earner in the entire Degreed platform. To give you some perspective, I have 12,000 points on my Degreed profile, which is more than most people on Degreed.

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When Alan first became interested in the data science role, he leveraged Degreed to make the transition. He created personal pathways in Degreed with resources from within the Degreed library, online resources, books, videos, and podcasts. He built pathways for data science in general with additional lessons focusing on sub-topics specific to the projects he was working on and the technical tools for his job.

Alan is a member of the data science group on Degreed, follows other data scientists, and follows the data scientist role so the popular articles, videos, and books his data science coworkers are reading plus the resources the organization recommends for this role show up in his Degreed learning feed, which he routinely takes advantage of.

Takeaways

Will Alan be a data scientist for the rest of his career? I doubt it. He says he’s really interested in AI. If you’re interested in gaining the same level of career agility as Alan, Degreed has the development tools to help.

  • Enroll in a pathway on the topic, create your own pathway, or clone an existing pathway and customize it for your needs.
  • Follow experts in the role you are interested in.
  • Join a group.
  • Follow the role, which will automatically link you to learning, pathways, groups, and experts.
  • Interested in learning more about data science? Follow Alan on Degreed or enroll in the Data Science pathway in Degreed.

Already a Degreed client and interested in initiating a targeted development plan at your organization based on roles and skills? For more information, contact your client experience partner at Degreed.

If you’re just getting started, check out get.degreed.com.

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As much as we would like to believe it, and as nice as it sounds, we don’t develop our people out of the goodness of our own hearts.  Businesses have important goals and a bottom line, and in order to hit those goals, they need to make money.  And if they don’t, shareholders, customers, and employees are all unhappy because the business will likely fail.

It might come as a surprise, but employee engagement is nearly as important as the bottom line. Research from Gallup ties engaged employees to better customer ratings, productivity, sales, and higher profitability. These organizations also saw significantly less turnover, shrinkage and absenteeism and quality defects.

But only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.

Enlightened CLOs, like Sarice Plate of Xilinx and Susie McNamara of General Mills, focus on both the development of skills needed to get the job done as well as engaging employees. “When employees are excited to learn, they feel more empowered, engaged and productive, and they become more valuable to the business,” said Sarice Plate, Head of Global Talent Aquisition at Xilinx, at a recent Bersin by Deloitte and Degreed-sponsored webinar.

But meeting both short-term needs for performance as well as the long-term needs for development requires thinking about things differently, and creating a new learning strategy – one that’s centered around the learner.

“The first and most important thing is that we are anchoring our talent development strategy to the same strategy we use as a company for everything we do, which is called consumer first,” shared Susie McNamara, Talent Development Leader of General Mills. “So everything that we’re doing, whether we’re trying to meet their short-term needs to ensure that they’re successful in their current role or whether we’re thinking more longer term and ensuring that their development needs more broadly, has the consumer at the center of everything.”

“In re-thinking our strategy, we decided we needed to create an environment that empowered our employees to drive their own development and their careers in a more effective way,” added Plate. “Our learning environment is now learner driven, where employees are able to identify pathways and specific personal development needs, they can consume learning in that timely fashion that best meets their learning style.”

What does putting the learner at the center mean for your software and tools? It means utilizing systems that support natural human behavior like collaboration, ease of use and personal accountability.

“We wanted to inspire our learners and we want our learners to inspire others.  So are allowing learners to start learning groups, to share, to collaborate. But we also needed learners to feel more aligned around our competencies with access to understanding how they can grow those competencies and make connections.”

In both cases, these leaders put learners in the driver’s seat. Want to know more about the Xilinx and General Mills learning strategies? Check out the on-demand webinar, “Let’s Get Digital,” now.

 

 

 

In an effort to continuously honor our commitment to delivering our clients the best experience possible, Degreed recently hired a new Vice President of Client Experience, David Verhaag.

david vHe will lead the post-sale teams including Client Engagement and Client Support. Prior to his employment with us, he partnered with Degreed for 8 months in an advisory capacity. During that time, he learned “first hand about this amazing company and the mission-driven team leading a transformation in the way we think about education. When the opportunity to consider the next step in my career came, joining the Degreed team was an obvious choice.”

He will become a regular contributor to the Degreed blog through the “field notes”  series, sharing both career and client lessons learned. Degreed is proud to have this strong addition to not only our organization but also our client success efforts. A round of applause for his debut:

Start with Why

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” The message is simple. Simon Sinek’s incredibly popular TED talk and framework is an important way of thinking about sales and marketing. Like many people, I love the simplicity and clarity of “Start with Why”. It makes immediate sense the first time you hear it. Until recently though I didn’t apply this thinking to my own career.

Following Simon’s model, from the outside in my career looks like the following: “I build and manage high-performing Customer Success teams. We deliver exceptional product adoption, industry-leading Net Promoter Scores and customer retention. Want to hire me?”

As Simon would say, “Meh…”

This time around, I reversed my thinking to the following: “I change the status quo. I lead customers and my teams to a new way of thinking and operating. I do this by building high performing Customer Success teams that challenge the old ways of learning and managing talent and we provide the partnership and expertise to drive change. We do this by driving production adoption with industry leading NPS and customer retention. Do you want to change the status quo?” That feels better.

Challenging that status quo in talent management has been a big idea for many years. It is the exciting opportunity I was looking for when I moved from my career from being the HR Guy to a focus on HR/Learning Tech and Customer Success. When I originally joined SuccessFactors in 2004, software as a service (SaaS) for HR and the digital performance review was still a relatively new idea. We moved customers from the status quo of paper-based performance management to the innovative idea of digital talent management and ultimately to the breakthrough of SaaS.

In 2013, I joined HireVue to challenge the status quo in recruitment by moving talent acquisition from expensive and time-consuming in-person interviews and sales training to video-based interactions and assessments. The result was millions of people connecting with career opportunities in a way that enabled them to have their story heard.

The idea at Degreed is even bigger! I could not be more excited to be a part of the Degreed team to work with our industry leading customers to challenge a legacy status quo that negatively impacts far too many people and organizations: learning as measured by the college degree.

What are some ways you have challenged the status quo? Let us know.

If we look at a traditional education or career path, they might seem quite linear. Your journey likely consisted of going to college, and you might have even known what you wanted to do, which lead to a certain career ladder, lasting decades within a company. The learning resources were in a classroom, training manuals, one-way disseminations of content being pushed to you. The technology was not as flexible or readily accessible.

Fast forward to today. The average career path is no longer linear and probably looks a lot like mine – horizontal, zig-zag, winding, inconsistent – but full of purpose.

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No matter your journey, each step in our learning and career journeys have a purpose in which we are consuming learning content, gaining skills, expanding our networks and going through applied learning experiences that land us in roles and careers that we are (hopefully!) passionate about.

While less prescribed, the new career journey does not come without a set of problems. As learning and training personnel, we are especially aware of the challenges a 60-year career presents and the need to support our workforce in continuous re-skilling.

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It’s probably good then that the amount of content out there is exploding at the same time as new skills are being required for jobs faster than ever before, movement within companies is shifting on a quarterly basis, and competition for talent is at an all-time high.

And that content is being utilized. Degreed found that 70% of workers learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week, and 53% learn from videos in any given week.

The explosion of both content informal learning opportunities presents new challenges: where are we seeing the skills we are acquiring? Will we be passed up on job opportunities because we can not show, prove or articulate what we know? The list goes on and on.

So how do we solve for this? How do we make this learning we do matter? How do we show what we are learning from all the articles we read, videos we watch, experiences we have?

Meet Degreed. The New Way of learning has been a challenge, but being able to discover, consume, track, share all my learning within Degreed has helped me and millions of others identify passions, career development pathways, and make sense of all the learning that is happening online and offline to define more of my career path.

We all have a learning journey like mine – all over the place – and Degreed helps make sense of that. We ALL are learning all the time, now it is time to get credit, create purpose and love what you are learning and doing on a daily basis.

Be a part of the new way starting today.

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Career development is more complex than it’s ever been. There’s no longer a straight ladder with prescribed steps. Employees are changing jobs at a record rate, and the change can now be lateral, diagonal, up or down, and jobs that require new skills are popping up all the time. 91% of Millennials expect to stay in their current job for 3 years or less, which means they will have 15-20 different jobs over the course of their career.

Here are three ways Degreed helps today’s workforce target their development across the roles, skills and learning they need for the jobs they currently have and want in the future.

  1. More relevant learning. Traditional approaches to development rely on conventional tools of the trade – things like classes, courses, and competencies, which are rarely reinforced, often forgotten or inconsistently applied. Which means lots of waste; 45% of L&D-led learning is wasted. All that wasted time, money and effort add up fast – more than $24m a year for every 10,000 employees for a typical Fortune 500 company [CEB]. To make learning more relevant, you need tools that target learning at the skill level. Degreed connects learning to skills, and skills to roles, giving individuals and organizations the ability to identify what skills they have, what skills they need, and the pathway to bridge the two.
  2. More self-directed learning and coaching. By a 3.5 to 1 margin, people tell us they believe their own self-directed learning is more effective in helping them be successful at work than the training provided by their employers. Degreed connects all the best learning experiences, both internal corporate resources and the world’s largest collection of professional learning content – making it easier than ever to promote a self-directed learning and a learning culture. In addition to self-directed learning, Degreed facilitates the touch points between managers and employees so conversations around development can happen more easily.
  3. More options to enable the lattice approach to career development. Gone are the days of the corporate ladder. Ladder careers had one direction of growth. The lattice career path moves laterally, diagonally and down as well as up. Skills are relevant and common to many job roles, in ways that are not always linear or obvious to the individual, and to the organization. By tracking at the skill level, individuals are able to see career progressions based on the skills they are strongest in and map those to the roles they are also qualified for. Degreed can help employees understand the pieces of parts of the role, help to educate people on what skills are needed for specific roles and then provide them the learning they need to achieve those skills.

Takeaway

When you search in Degreed for a topic like “leadership”, you’ll not only get connected to content like articles but also specific pathways, job roles, and groups where those skills are relevant. You’ll also be able to follow people who have accumulated expertise in those skills and browse providers with content that’s been tagged as relevant. Clicking on roles, like “new manager”, for example, will highlight specific pathways, mentors, and content and related to those roles.

Degreed is a professional development platform that helps organizations and people target learning at their skills gaps — however and wherever they build those skills. Degreed integrates everything your people need to build their skills – internal and external systems, content and experts, including the world’s largest collection of free and low-cost open learning resources – so it can all work better together. Your team can curate, personalize and measure it all. And they can discover, share and track all learning happening across the organization, all in one place.

Interested in practicing a more targeted development plan at your organization based on roles and skills? For more information, contact Degreed.

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