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

For a long time, perhaps too long, the HR and training functions have dictated learning for employees. But workers have started taking things into their own hands as they realize their competitive advantage, their employability, is tied directly to their skill set. This shift from relying on L&D to self-directed has left many organizations wondering what their next move should be.

The best place to start is putting yourself in the learner’s’ shoes and examine the human behaviors around growth and development.

At Degreed LENS, Tim Quinlan of Intel shared the value of approaching your workforce, the learners, as consumers or customers.

“I said, “How do you learn today? What do you want to learn about and how do you learn? If you’re curious about something how do you do it?” And [the management team] said, ‘Well, I have this trusted third party I go to or I do a Google search.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my experience as well… I think what I want is something that will seriously complement or compete with a Google search because that’s the learning tool at Intel.”

Degreed research compliments Tim’s story. Almost 85% of survey respondents said they learn things for work by searching online at least once a week, nearly 70% learn by reading articles and blogs every week, and 53% learn from videos in any given week.

HR, training and L&D provide the mostly high-value learning experiences people need sometimes, whereas Google or asking a peer or boss for guidance happens all the time, every day, right at the moment of need and not 3 weeks down the road. Recognizing that learning is happening all the time, not just through L&D offerings, it makes sense that “a new type of employee learning is emerging that is more “consumer- like,” commented Josh Bersin during his presentation at Degreed LENS.

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“Learner-centric” practices are at the heart of what more effective organizations deliver in their learning. Organizations that are more mature and advanced tend to deliver a lot less training through traditional methods and more through experiential, social, collaboration. Learning teams that are aligned with and meeting expectations of the larger organization empower “always-on learning, and a culture of exploration and discussion to enable continuous invention1.”

The most important tool in your kit for 2017? Your workers. “If you’re not focused on the experience of the employee, and you’re focused on what you want to do and the content you want to build and how great it is, you’re missing the boat,” added Bersin.

Want to hear more about how organizations such as Intel and Atlassian are embracing the consumer mindset? Check out the highlight video from Degreed LENS in San Francisco.

For more content from the LENS event, visit the Digital CLO content library!


1 – Predictions for 2017: Everything is Becoming Digital, Bersin by Deloitte, 2016

Digital technology is transforming just about everything, and fast. Yet just 33% of organizations say their top-level managers understand and support digital initiatives. If you’re not working on transforming your L&D and HR function for the digital age, too, then maybe you should.

The reality is, the world is changing constantly. And according to major startup investor Paul Graham, it creates not just threats, but also huge opportunities – if you recognize the signals in time and adapt appropriately.

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The threats that come with being a chief learning officer (CLO), or working for one, are real. Reality is getting more virtual. Intelligence is getting more artificial. Data is getting bigger. It will take a new breed of chief learning officer that can adequately adjust to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Say hello to the Digital CLO.

The formula for success as a Digital CLO in learning and development (L&D) – which is essentially the algorithm for developing capabilities and driving business performance – is well-known:
Alignment + Efficiency + Effectiveness = Outcomes

That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Most CLOs struggle to get or stay aligned. Almost 60% of the workforce’s skill sets don’t match changes in their companies’ strategies, goals, markets or business models.

Many CLOs also have a hard time being efficient. As much as 70 cents out of every dollar invested in L&D is wasted on irrelevant, redundant, low quality or unused training.

Most importantly, too many CLOs aren’t actually effective where it counts. Nearly three quarters of CEOs say that a lack of critical expertise is a threat to their businesses’ growth.

Some CLOs, however, are adapting and evolving – even thriving – in the face of all this digital disruption. To find out what the 3 things are that successful CLO’s do differently, join Intel and Degreed for the Digital CLO “playbook” webinar on January 31st. Register for the event here.

As a CLO, I spend a lot of time talking to learning leaders from a variety of industries, going to conferences and trade shows, reading industry research and blogs. Phrases like “content explosion,” “fragmented learning” get used a a lot, supporting the common sub-text that L&D is experiencing a massive shift in how their employees learn at and for work. It’s important to consider and embrace what’s happening in the marketplace, and organizations that do will see there is a big opportunity to elevate both their talent and L&D’s reputation to one that drives key business performance.

Last week, I wrote part 1 of the 2-part series on the top four trends disrupting the workforce in 2017. The first two trends identified are different generations in the workforce and the rise in digital technology.

Here are the remaining two:

3. Rate of change is moving faster than ever before

Since things are changing faster than ever before, businesses must stay agile. Dutton talked about eBay’s evaluation of current programs since splitting from PayPal, and their decision to start over with their learning strategy. They stopped doing a lot of the traditional learning that they had done in the past including multi-day programs geared just for leaders or top talent. Now, they strive to serve all employees, and  have launched a few new tools including Degreed and Career Navigator. They are choosing to engage with employees and teams using Slack because that’s where a lot of the engineers already spend their time.  eBay is also focusing more on coaching for leaders, having employees and leaders engage in more impactful career and performance conversations.  Learning is being recognized as a journey through talent communities, and the learning organization is adjusting to meet people where they are rather than taking them out of their natural work flow.

4. A new relationship between employees and employers

Gone are the days where people spent their whole careers at one company.  According to Gallup, 60% of millennials say they are open to a new job opportunity, and according to the recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person works for 4.4 years in one job. This is a major shift in work expectations – a shift we as learning professionals have to be thinking about.

During the discussion with the CLO community, we discussed the gig economy, (think freelance workers or Uber drivers) the contingent workforce, (contractors) and how those new models affect the employee/employer relationship.

A recent Forbes article states that by 2020, about 40% of Americans will be part of the gig economy. According to Dan Schawbel, “The trends that have created the gig economy include: the rise of freelancing, the access of technology (especially on the mobile phone), the impact of the recession and the desire to have “side-gigs” and flexibility. For employers, the gig economy allows them to hire on-demand, lower costs and have more competition for talent.”

So when we think about the skills gap and how we are going to help people build their skills for now and the future, we need to think about how employees actually work. Learning can be a big competitive advantage if you are a company that will invest in your employee’s skills regardless of whether they stay one year or ten years.  Career paths and helping all employees develop their skills, even if they don’t stay at your company long term, is a growing and beneficial trend.

These four workforce trends are changing role of learning leaders and it’s important to keep them in mind when thinking about your future learning strategy. eBay, like a lot of other companies, has realized that to keep talent and to help all employees develop skills quickly, they needed to think about learning differently, move more quickly and iterate, and be more agile overall with learning.

At it’s core, being successful in learning today means embracing your workforce – meeting people where they are and giving them learning when they need it. Want to know what your workforce was interested in in 2016? Check out What the World Learned in 2016.

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We know there’s more than one pathway to expertise. We also know that amazing things happen when we use our expertise to solve big problems. 2016 was an incredible year for world discoveries, learning, expertise, humanity, technology, and education. And one thing is for sure- we’re learning like never before.

As we set our sights on 2017 we’re taking a good, hard look at what we learned in 2016. We’ve collected stories, data, and lessons from the past 12 months, and put it all together.

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So, what did you learn in 2016? What will you learn in 2017?

If you want to make all that learning matter, you know where to find us.

The workforce is changing and it’s affecting how we all work every day. It’s also changing the expectations that people have about who they work with, how they work, and where they work. I recently met with a group of Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) and learning leaders to talk about the four trends disrupting the workforce today and how that impacts the way we think about learning in the corporate environment. We uncovered four common trends.

  1. Different generations in the workforce

People have been talking about this for years now, but the reality is that we have many generations working together in the workforce today.  By 2020, 70% of the workforce will be made up of millennials, but in addition, boomers are working into their 70s and 80s.  What does this mean for the workforce and learning?  It means that we are more diverse and have greater opportunity to learn from each other.  As for learning, although it may be true that millennials are digital natives and generally very comfortable with technology, the CLO group I was speaking with agreed that the way people like to learn has less to do with age and more to do with personal comfort level with technology.

Judy Dutton, Senior Director at eBay, shared that there is a large increase of millennials coming into the company. The 32nd most recognized brand in the world according to Interbrand in its annual ranking of Best Global Brands, many don’t know that eBay also does a lot of slick things with technology including big data, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In 2017, their HR function is focused on new ways to attract top talent, especially millennials, by revamping their intern program and recruiting from more diverse universities. Their learning teams are embracing a new digital and in-person on-boarding experience, and completely rethinking their career development and approach to development.

  1. Rise in digital technology

Technology is changing the way we think about both business and learning.  As I wrote in a previous blog, learning leaders need to be tech savvy and include a digital learning component as part of their overall learning and employee experience strategy.

At eBay, a learning technology manager helps drive the ongoing technology requirements for the global Talent and Organization Development team.  This new role has also become more heavily involved with IT, the office of the CIO, and HR analytics since the learning technology need is increasingly prevalent.  But it’s not just about technology; there has to be learning expertise among each employee too.

These are just two of the four workforce trends that are changing the role of learning leaders. We will visit the remaining two trends, an increasing rate of change and the new relationship between employees and employers, in Part 2 next week.

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Doing more with less has always been one of the hardest things about being a Chief Learning Officer (CLO). “Doing more” has taken on a whole new meaning as CLOs increasingly recognize that learning and career management are critical components of an organization’s employment brand.

But evolving means more than making learning available on demand by upgrading existing content and investing in newer technology. That’s part of it, of course, but the most successful learning leaders are embracing our always-on economy and leaning into the fact that learning happens all the time, all over the place – both with and without the L&D team’s influence. They’re comfortable working in the ambiguity of  “and” – supplying business-led training and empowering self serve learning, leveraging formal and informal, courses and resources.

Most CLOs, however, still have lots of work to do. As McKinsey & Company recently reported, CLOs overwhelmingly think that their organizations’ digital capabilities are too low. 
To better understand what is working – and how – for today’s “Digital CLOs,” Degreed brought over 100 learning and talent executives together at San Francisco’s Dogpatch WineWorks on November 10th.

Here’s what we learned:

  1.    Leverage Digital Tools

Digitization is transforming all aspects of business, including the L&D function. At times it may seem confusing, but we should see this as an opportunity instead of a roadblock. “I’ve got six people, and they’re spread over 19 time zones. Here’s the kicker – I don’t believe we need a bigger team to execute on a really firm strategy. That’s where digitization comes in – I believe that creates the scale we need,” said Sam Haider, Global Head of Talent Development of Atlassian.

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Leveraging new digital tools, organizations can scale while still providing an always-on, continuous learning environment fed not just by content but also by workers and managers.

  1.    Utilize L&D’s New Architecture

Let’s start with a short story.

“So I went to the LMS and looked for Excel and I found a course. It was going to be available to me in two months, and I was like okay, well, maybe two months is too long but if I did wait, what would I find? It was a three-day course and I was thinking crap, I really don’t want to know that much about Excel. I just want to know how to do VLOOKUP… So I went to YouTube and I looked up VLOOKUP and I found a two minute video of exactly what I was trying to do,” shared Tim Quinlan, Director of Digital Platform for Learning at Intel.

Degreed research supports Tim’s anecdote. Just 21 percent of people told us they rely directly on their learning department when they need to learn something new for work, and only 28 percent said they search their employers’ learning management system first.

“The LMS is becoming marginalized” said Josh Bersin. “It’s a compliance system.”

To be fair, we can’t expect a 20+ year old tool that was designed for management, not learning, to meet the needs of learners in 2017. Instead, what we are seeing is an emerging category of learning experience platforms, like Degreed, which are built for the learners, that are augmenting the role of the LMS and other traditional L&D tools.

“It is the age of APIs and it’s clear to see that we don’t need to go with a monolithic architecture of data that feeds different parts of a value chain in one big system,” added Haider.

According to Bersin, this new architecture still includes the LMS as a record keeping system, but the key is a learning system in the center to tie everything together.

  1.    Approach L&D with a consumer mindset

The most common strategy leaders shared at LENS? Embrace design thinking and approach learning as if you were the customer.

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“Design thinking means understanding what your employees are really doing all day at work. Spending time with them, empathizing with them. It’s monitoring. It’s watching. It’s experimenting with things where your employees are and what they’re doing at work and making their work life better. If you’re not doing this, you’re not going to be able to optimize the experience,” said Bersin.

As the people facilitating the learning experiences, it’s important to know their struggles, what they need, what they want from their learning.

“Get involved in the experience. Be the consumer. Don’t think about this from the L&D perspective.  If you think about it from a consumer’s point of view, I think you can do great things in this space,” suggested Quinlan.

As a bonus, if you’re tracking learning, you will be able to generate valuable insight on the value of the experiences, and gauge and determine if they’re meeting the learning needs and curiosity of your teams.

The mission of Degreed remains the same – to make all learning matter – to people as well as to organizations. Degreed LENS was a memorable evening to have so many thought leaders in one room, sharing ideas on how to best support our workforce and succeed in the age of digital transformation.

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Source –  [1] Deloitte University Press, Global Human Capital Trends 2016 – The new organization: different by design, 2016

Technology is seeing a major shift towards open platforms that can connect. This is referred to as a “Platform Strategy,” defined as the ability to create value by connecting interdependent systems, content, or people.

When you purchase a technology solution with a platform strategy, you aren’t dependent on just one solution or tool. You can leverage multiple providers, and pick and choose the best of breed for all your needs. These platform solutions offer pluggable APIs to make the connection between systems seamless.

Starting at the basics, API stands for Application Program Interface. Simply, it allows one software application to talk to another software application. APIs are an important part of a platform strategy because it’s an automated way for two systems to share information without a large IT investment or significant custom code. APIs have made the modern web experience possible. Have you noticed how Facebook and Google maps are connected to everything? That’s made possible by the open APIs these platforms offer.

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Other great examples of successful platform strategies include Microsoft Sharepoint, Salesforce, and iPhone and Android smartphones.

The value of IOS and Android devices far surpasses the value of Blackberry devices in a large part because of the plethora of mobile apps that are available for iPhone and Android. Apple’s strategy wasn’t to make the iPhone a single tool that did everything. They created an open platform that allowed a large audience of contributors to build tools and content that could be added onto their system.

Degreed follows a similar strategy by connecting all the world’s best learning experiences — systems, content, and people — so they can all work better together.

Degreed accomplishes this by being agnostic when it comes to integrating with other tools and content providers. Degreed has a robust set of tools to leverage for integrations depending on the client’s specific technology landscape including xAPI, SCORM, CSV, API, SSO/SAML 2.0. To date, Degreed has successfully integrated with several different LMS providers, HR systems, and a long list of content providers.

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Degreed’s APIs allow you to easily integrate all of your organization’s internal learning content, from your LMS, or other tools. Federate Degreed’s user API allows you to keep your employee list in sync, and allows you to auto-enroll users in groups and pathways, and set default privacy settings.

Takeaways

The age of APIs means you no longer need one tool that tries to do it all. Instead, you are able to pick and choose the best of breed for all your needs. If you’re shopping for a corporate learning solution, make sure you ask your vendor if pluggable APIs are part of their platform. If the answer is no, you may want to consider looking for something new.

Degreed is changing the way organizations approach corporate learning investments by creating a unified learner experience. To learn more about Degreed, visit get.degreed.com

When we talk about the value of learning, it’s commonly linked to increasing the capabilities of the larger organization to drive performance, productivity and business outcomes.

But as the workforce becomes more saturated and diverse, employees are finding out that their ability to get new and improved jobs aka employability, is based on their skills. And to keep up, worker capabilities need to be improving all the time. Rightfully so, workers are demanding opportunities to learn and gain new skills.

The smartest CLO’s realize that if they don’t enable continuous growth in-house, and offer a variety of learning experiences and opportunities, employees will leave.

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At the Degreed LENS event in November, learning analyst Josh Bersin shared that career development and learning are almost 2x more important than compensation and benefits to employees. “When high performers leave your company, it’s usually because they felt they could find a better opportunity, more growth, more development by going to work for another company. It wasn’t for more money; it’s rarely for more money,” said Bersin.

And for those specifically interested in reaching millennials, lack of growth opportunities is the number one reason they will leave your company.

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Though a key factor to employee satisfaction, only 18% of the people Degreed surveyed said they would recommend their employer’s learning and development opportunities to a colleague. This is a big missed opportunity and an important issue.  Building a meaningful learning experience has become more than job productivity –  it’s your brand, your ability to attract people, your ability to retain them.

At the LENS event, Bersin revealed there are 20 different things that contribute to an employee’s sense of mission, purpose and engagement with your company– almost half of them relate to learning.

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“Learning owns probably 30 or 40 percent of the employment brand in your company. The issue of how we learn and how we share information in companies is very essential to the employee experience at organizations,” shared Bersin.

People are a big expense – up to 70% of operating costs in many organizations. Investing in them through learning, keeping the workforce engaged is more vital than ever, and treating L&D as a core part of your brand’s success is essential to making that happen. Take the first steps to making learning part of your brand at Degreed.com.

The average person leaves university or college in their early 20’s and retires in their mid 60’s. For those of you like me that aren’t math wizards, that’s about 45 years where most of your learning happens in a professional setting, i.e. while you’re on the job.  And most of that on-the-job learning happens outside of training classes, in the job-related information you consume and tasks you complete each day.

That’s a huge amount of informal learning over the course of a career. While the lack of formality and classroom hours sound great, there’s a problem. Typically, the valuable time you’re spending growing your skill sets isn’t being captured.

Think about it. Almost every day you are reading articles, watching videos, searching online to find an answer. But where are you tracking that time spent or what knowledge you gained? My guess is it’s not being recorded anywhere.

At the organizational level, very little data, if any, is captured on what employees are learning in the course of doing their jobs. Regularly, measurement ends when the course or training program is over, and the details that were captured are minimal – typically only a record that you’ve “completed” the learning.

“This lack of data represents an enormous missed opportunity to increase an organization’s human capital, by tailoring learning resources and initiatives to the specific topics people don’t understand well enough,” said Lev Kaye, Founder and CEO of CredSpark.

Worse, this lack of data on informal learning carries a huge risk for the business.  Organizations can operate impaired, or even close down as a result of bad decisions or investments stemming from knowledge gaps.  In certain industries, if an employee doesn’t understand a critical technology or a regulation, there may be legal, financial, and market implications.  “It’s not just that people don’t know–it’s that they don’t know they don’t know,” added Kaye.

It’s crucial that both the employee and the employer knows which skills, strengths and weaknesses are present in the organization.

The solution is to start assessing and capturing metrics around informal learning.

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“Informal learning by definition demands informal assessment that’s nothing like formal tests for certification, licensure, or hiring,” commented Kaye.  “Rather, informal learning assessment means short, highly-targeted knowledge checks that are used first and foremost to engage people then quickly check their knowledge of these topics.”

It’s important to note that when talking about informal learning, assessments are not meant to be an evaluative tool but another method of engagement to reinforce the learning that’s taking place. These knowledge checks are of highest value to the individual, not her manager or business, because the best learning and growth is driven by individual initiative.

The findings from assessments will provide the learner specific opportunities where they can increase their skill sets, and improved insights into the learning happening and identifiable skill gaps for the organization.

To begin gathering informal learning data and using it to reduce the risk of critical knowledge gaps, visit get.degreed.com.

 

Habits are routine, subconscious behaviors – actions you do not necessarily need to put a lot of thought into. Many of our daily actions are a combination of habits, both good and bad. Creating positive habits is important, according to Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit.” He reports about 40% to 45% of what we do every day feels like a decision but is actually habit. That’s nearly ½ of all our actions!

At the organizational level, habits and culture are closely related. How do people behave, work, grow, interact, and learn when they have the environment or flexibility to make decisions on their own. More than a numbers game, workplace and organizational habits contribute to the bottom line. “A huge amount of whether a company succeeds or fails is based not on sort of the big strategy decisions that people make, but on the habits that emerge within the organization,” added Duhigg.

If you think about your own organization’s practices, much of what we do as employees is the result of history – “that’s the way we’ve always done it” – also known as organizational habits. But what if you had the power to change the status quo?

Ryan Seamons, a Product Manager at Degreed, recently spoke on the value of habits during a presentation at Puget Sound. Here are 6 recommendations he made for things you can do to jump start new habits.

  1.     Start small

Dream big, but start small when picking new habits. If the goal itself is too lofty at the beginning, it easily becomes hard or too time consuming to achieve. A couple examples of starting small include doing two pushups, flossing one tooth, reading to the bottom of the page. These small actions can seem inconsequential, but set the foundation to keep growing the habit bigger and bigger.

  1.     Change your environment

Start fresh. If you want to read more, move the book onto your pillow instead of your nightstand. If you want to take walk at lunch, ask a friend to go with you to hold you accountable and mark the time off on your calendar.

  1.     Reflect

Take the time to evaluate where you currently stand. Ask yourself things like: what do I want to achieve, what has gone well in the past, and what hasn’t, what reward would be the most powerful? It also helps to document your reflections. Set 15 minutes of time apart on your calendar specifically for thinking and write down your thoughts in a dedicated document.

  1.     Find “domino” habits

Find habits you currently do that can propel your new habit in the right direction. A good example is working out. Typically, when someone makes the decision to go to the gym, that sets up the desire to also eat healthy. Try identifying well-established habits to which you could anchor your new habit.

  1.     Reward

Pick a small but meaningful incentive to reward yourself with when you complete the action.

  1.     Remind

Create a trigger, a queue that brings your desired habit to mind. Like ‘domino’ habits, a trigger can help you start the action needed to develop a habit.

Employees have a way they naturally respond to problems and allocate time during their work day. Being more aware of current habits and setting aside time to make an impact on your organization is a key to positively changing culture.

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