Learning strategy: Everything you need to know

Learning strategy: Everything you need to know

What is a learning strategy?

A person’s method of organizing and employing a certain set of skills to learn the material or complete other activities more quickly and effectively in academic and non-academic environments is known as a learning strategy.

What is a learning strategy?

Learning approaches by teaching employees how to learn and how to apply what they have learned to solve problems and succeed, instruction focuses on tactics that support the active learning process.

These tactics include demonstrating how to create a study schedule, keeping track of subject comprehension, delineating the course materials, and assessing student performance. This kind of self-regulated learning, which includes the development of techniques like goal-setting, self-instruction, and self-monitoring, is the secret to effective life-long learning.

The essential components of a learning strategy

1. Business Case 

Clearly states the business goals being pursued, the metrics for success, and the expected effects on the organization. The most frequent omission from learning methodologies is a business case. The key decision-makers in charge of making financial decisions need to comprehend how the strategy will aid in achieving corporate goals, and part of that understanding includes being familiar with KPIs. Successful learning strategies make a strong business case for the proposed training and performance budgetary allocations. Spend some time learning about sponsoring training projects as well.

2. Important Findings and Advice

Include well-informed suggestions for the learning solutions that have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders and subject-matter experts, adapted to the organizational culture. High-level recommendations make it easier for business partners and important stakeholders to understand the ultimate goals and the plan of action for implementing the strategy. Executives without a background in learning can easily appreciate an effective learning strategy’s simple and direct recommendations.

3. Learning-Performance-Support-Solution Map

The essential components of a learning strategy

Solution maps for learning and performance support make it easier to see how performance initiatives are sustained after learning is done. These straightforward maps, which are arranged by delivery method and audience role, provide a visual representation of the audience analysis by identifying the target group for the training efforts, the mode of delivery, and the post-training assistance. A sample solution map is displayed to the right.

4. Architecture Design Curriculum

Give a broad recommendation for learning courseware that outlines principles for more in-depth analysis and design. The advice should be broken down by content area or role. This serves as the basis for a more thorough examination and design of educational software. This provides insight into potential gaps between audience and content and aids business partners in understanding how the training initiatives fit together.

5. Learning Paths

 Role-based learning paths represent the path that students will take toward professional development throughout the learning process. Clarifying the learning path for business partners allows for buy-in for the overall strategy and offers a chance for input. Many learning systems place a lot of emphasis on learning course material while ignoring other aspects of the learning process, such as solutions for performance assistance, coaching, mentoring, and leader support.

6. Supporting Technology

Identify the enabling technologies, such as a learning management system, e-learning authoring tools, mobile devices, social learning platforms, or portals, that will support the development, delivery, and adoption of the learning solutions. Technology is a must for all learning techniques to support the implementation and delivery of learning solutions. The many enabling technology types and their integration into the overall learning and performance solutions must be made very apparent.

7. Evaluation and Measurement Strategy

This explains how the initiatives for training and performance will be quantified, assessed, and coordinated with company goals. An often-overlooked component of learning strategy documents is a training evaluation plan, however, it’s crucial to specify what data will be gathered, how learning will be measured, what will be reviewed, and who will receive the data.

8. Budget and Resource Plan

Budget and Resource Plan

To design, create, and implement the learning solutions, a resource strategy for the training team and subject matter experts is required. Most L&D firms have resource scarcity, therefore build trust in the training and development program by clearly outlining personnel and financial demands. This will make it simpler to obtain the financing and resources required to put the strategy into practice and ensure a high return on investment for training.

9. Plan for Sustainable Learning

After the delivery of the learning and performance solutions, the procedure for maintaining training deliverables will be put into place, but it must be created well in advance. Establish the methods for maintaining training deliverables, assigning responsibility to them following talent development events, and requesting and implementing adjustments.

10. A plan for managing change and marketing

Describe a strategy to reduce the chance that the L&D initiative will encounter organizational resistance in part or full. Key sponsorship/leadership interventions, a change brand, stakeholder communications, organizational design, talent development considerations, and measurement of business preparedness are all part of a strong change management plan.

Understanding business objectives and challenges, working cross-departmentally, including business partners as active participants in the development of learning and performance solutions, and advising key stakeholders on how the learning journey can be translated into quantifiable business results are the best ways to start the process of developing an L&D brand strategy.

How to develop a learning strategy

1) Organizing your approach

Your learning method must have a structure. For instance, the CIPD advises that a learning strategy should include the following three components:

  • A broad plan that won’t be altered too often
  • Learning initiatives that are carefully tailored to the demands, objectives, priorities, and resource requirements of the current business
  • Options for managing the overall learning process

It’s crucial to ask the proper questions at every level.

Consider the following while thinking about your umbrella strategy’s long-term corporate objective: What are the goals and missions of my organization? How do we set ourselves out from the competition? How might learning help us get where we want to be in ten years?

What will these objectives be? Customer satisfaction, revenue growth, cost management, and leadership development are examples of typical company aims.

Other issues need to be addressed, like what is the business now attempting to accomplish, to ensure that you are in alignment with your existing business needs (level 2 of the CIPD three-tier method). How important is training in getting there? What is the organization’s needs assessment?

You should pose more strategic queries about how the learning process will be handled, like what tools the organization will require to help the procedure. How do we combine various training tools, such as coaching, classroom instruction, and e-learning? How should this plan be explained?

Depending on the demands of the present business environment, these issues may alter at this level every year.

2) The Value of Goal-Driven Behavior

Taking their eyes off the goals and letting various training approaches dictate their decision-making is one of the more frequent errors I see organizations make when designing a learning plan.

How to develop a learning strategy

For instance, switching to an online learning environment is not a goal in and of itself. It is the logical outcome of attempting to achieve a particular aim. For instance, e-learning and lower costs for classroom training courses will help achieve this goal in the area of cost management.

3) Comparison of Short-Term and Long-Term Business Goals

The current recession and the accompanying business turbulence have made it more difficult to distinguish between long-term and short-term business goals, such as a first-quarter sales target against a 10-year corporate plan.

As a result of everything they have gone through over the past few years, many businesses will figuratively never be the same again, with permanently altered views toward risk, investment, expenses, and growth.

How can instructional techniques reflect this? Even about the overarching statement that the CIPD referred to in their three-part plan, I would argue that flexibility is necessary for this situation.

A certain amount of built-in flexibility should be permitted, even though one doesn’t want to see a different learning approach or umbrella strategy on a month-by-month basis.

4) Identifying Needs

Any learning plan must start by evaluating students’ learning needs. Fundamentally, it is the connection between organizational performance and personal performance. Where are the learning requirements needed to reach these goals, if we have set them?

Here are some suggestions: Create employee competence profiles and pinpoint any skill gaps so that the training requirements can be informed. Additionally, you might want to conduct some customer research to see how they view skill gaps using methods like focus groups and questionnaires. Line supervisors are a valuable source of knowledge regarding competency levels.

5) Legislative Requirements

Any current or upcoming legislative requirements that might need to be incorporated into your approach should be kept in mind. You must fulfill several specific learning requirements, for instance, to be accredited by Investors in People.

6) Put the learner at the center of the strategy

The key to developing any corporate learning strategy is to understand the relationships between corporate goals and the people who are accountable for the results. This is why the learner of your employees should be at the core of any learning strategy you develop, and the driving force behind its success.

Giving the learner control is vital because an engaged learner will lead to a successful learning strategy. Yet training and, in particular, e-learning has too often been technology-led rather than people-led, resulting in unsupported learners being overwhelmed by both the technology and the lack of a clear training focus.

A central part of any learning strategy is, therefore, to put the learner in control of the process. He or she needs to know where they are now and where they or needs to be at the end of the learning path. This must all relate to the individual’s position within the organization.

Closely aligned to this, your organization needs to create a compelling learner experience. Training, for example, should be stimulating, engage the senses, and be rooted in real-life situations that participants can take back and implement in the workplace. The learner should be able to personalize the training, so they can control progress and learn at their speed.

Also, make sure professional skills are not forgotten. Businesses tend to spend up to five times more budget on health & safety, compliance, and technical training than on professional skills development such as leadership, management, and negotiation skills  which are proven to have a direct impact on the bottom line.

Above all, avoid box-ticking. Learning needs to be a practice that is embedded in people’s day-to-day activities. Send a manager on a two-day course on management skills and they will not become a good manager overnight. Learning must be pragmatic, results and skills-focused and should address the learner’s immediate workplace challenges.

7) The Key to Successful Implementation

We have looked at the importance of developing a structure and goals, assessing learning needs, and putting the learner at the center of the strategy. Yet, all this could be to no avail if you don’t put the necessary mechanisms in place to ensure successful implementation.

The Key to Successful Implementation

Firstly, a learning strategy must be actively supported by senior executives within the business. They will need to support the plan fully and agree to milestones, costs, dates, and deliverables. Managers also need to let employees know about their support.

As well as senior managers, it’s also important that line managers buy into the new learning strategy. With line managers taking on responsibilities that were traditionally the domain of HR, such as recruiting new staff and developing direct reports through coaching and training, they have an important role to play at the interface of any learning strategy.

Communication is also key. Too many managers simply don’t communicate about either the business or strategic learning goals. People must know what is in it for them and how the company’s learning strategy is going to affect their personal development.

A learning strategy cannot be successful unless it is properly resourced. Your budget must be realistic to implement the learning strategy and this often works best from a centrally owned budget. If it is divisional, the budget could get squeezed from opposite directions leading to the danger of a fragmented implementation of the strategy.

On the subject of money, with the current economic backdrop, thought should also go into how to get the most bang for the buck. There are several means of doing this and incorporating cost constraints into the learning strategy.

For example, learning specialists, at Knowledgepool estimate that you can cut as much as 30% of your learning costs through areas such as improving supplier management, greater automation of administrative expense costs, and a refocusing on learning away from the classroom.

What is important, however, is that you don’t look at crude cost-saving measures which can directly impact the success of your strategy. Nearly half of companies who invest in staff training end up saving money in the long-term, according to a report by Cranfield School of Management and the Sector Skills Development Agency that says companies that don’t bother with training at all are two and a half times more likely to fail.

So although it might be tempting to start immediately cutting budgets, this is often a mistake.

8) Quantify! You must measure!

Any learning strategy must include the measurement of return on investment (ROI), and it is crucial to establish ROI metrics upfront so that the effects of training on the development of the individual and the organization can be monitored and assessed.

But measurement is still incredibly challenging. Understanding what you are measuring in this case the impact your learning is having on employees’ contributions to business performance and attaining business objectives is crucial.

Your measurements should be industry- and business-focused as well. Customer satisfaction, for instance, is a crucial statistic in the retail sector, whereas productivity throughout the asset team in the oil and gas business, where there is a growing worker shortage, is crucial.

It shouldn’t be just the HR and L&D departments’ job to establish metrics that connect learning to business results. To ensure that the value of learning and training within an organization can be measured in terms of the impact on business objectives and the bottom line, line managers, finance directors, and senior management must be involved.

9. Prizing instructional strategies

Offering real-world prizes to learners is a great incentive to engage with courseware. Whether it’s rewarding the best performer(s) or the fastest performer(s), student engagement and effectiveness will increase. Note that it’s often more effective to offer many small rewards (shopping or coffee vouchers for instance) rather than the opportunity to win one larger prize.

Examples of learning strategy

Peer Learning

Nobody knows your organization’s practices better than your employees. Any lessons they create are going to be highly engaging and relatable from the perspective of colleagues and so it’s one of the great instructional strategies. Templates mean that anyone can easily create a lesson (or at least do so with minimal assistance). Take advantage of and mix different learning styles to improve learning experiences and general collaborative learning.

Mobile Learning

With mobile phones nearing ubiquity and with younger generations rarely out of their device’s presence, it makes sense to distribute training via smartphones. Courses can be distributed (globally) via the cloud which means they can always be kept up to date.

Just-in-Time Training (JITT)

If your knowledge is delivered just minutes before it’s required, it has a good likelihood of being retained at the crucial moment. Small microlessons can easily be consumed within minutes and if they’re distributed straight to a learner’s pocket (via the cloud) right before they’re needed, then you have one of the most agile instructional strategies around.

Integrated translation

Examples of learning strategy

Many organizations have sites in multiple countries with employees who speak multiple languages. Translating courses can be an expensive and time-consuming affair. However, thanks to Google Translate, it’s now simple to create a course translation with an 80+ percent accuracy rate, for most global languages, with a single click of a button.

Accurate and reliable knowledge and learning content

Your learning materials are the backbone of your knowledge and learning management, which is why it is integral to curate them based only on reliable information and data points. Equipping your employees with accurate and valuable knowledge will help them make smart and timely decisions in the future, and most importantly, deliver accurate and consistent services to their customers and clients. All things considered, this strategy will greatly benefit your company’s bottom line and bring your business toward long-term success through critical thinking and problem-solving.

Storytelling techniques

Storytelling, while often ignored, is one of the most effective formative ways to impart knowledge to your employees. By incorporating anecdotal evidence and case studies or transforming content into a relatable scenario, your employees can easily remember a message or lesson and effectively apply their acquired skills and knowledge in their work. This is because stories put meaning into your information and data points, making them easier to grasp and understand.

Knowledge and learning progress

The only way you can check the effectiveness of your knowledge and learning management plan is by keeping an eye on your employees’ learning progress. Apart from checking whether or not they have already completed their learning materials, knowing how they responded to your content will also give you some useful insights. Say your team took a little longer to finish their courses, then they might need some extra coaching or more problem-based learning exercises. It could also indicate that the topic may have come a little difficult for them, or the learning approach isn’t exactly working as expected.

Online training simulations

An online training simulation is a training method that creates an immersive learning experience with learning technology and through activities that simulate real-life scenarios. This allows your remote workforce to experience realistic simulations in a virtual environment. Online simulations replicate scenarios that are typically demonstrated in traditional training through in-person demos.

Training web conferences

The shift into virtual learning environments led to more webinars and video conferences in training sessions for some companies. With the lack of physical interaction or active learning, it can be a challenge to keep learners engaged – especially during long sessions. One way to actively engage the learners is by turning traditional, boring presentations into interactive presentations. This helps engage and promote knowledge retention among learners during live virtual training sessions.

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