Our collective challenge as learners is no longer a scarcity of information. This was made clear at the 2017 ATD Tech Knowledge conference in Las Vegas. Rahaf Harfoush, a keynote speaker, made a compelling case that data abundance is overwhelming us at work, and as any good keynote can do, this really got me thinking. We have an abundance of content, yet many exhibitors and the learning sessions at the conference almost exclusively focused on techniques, disruptions, applications, and methods of better delivering content. I’d like to see a shift away from what and how we are delivering content, and towards how we can unlock learning potential in organizations. (And I saw pockets of this conversation starting at the conference.)
With all this content and with more and more flashy ways of delivering it, we heard that stakeholders from all perspectives are seeing a gap in learning that happens in organizations:
- 45% of employees believe that learning offered to them in their organization is not applicable to their day-to-day, while 33% of them also don’t believe they have the skills they need to get promoted
- 43% of employees are bored at work and 80% of those believe that the opportunity to learn new skills would increase their engagement.
- 94% of CEOs are looking for results from their learning and development efforts and only 8% are seeing what they need.
- 59% of managers are not rewarded for developing their team.
I do not believe the gap is the graphics, the length, or the delivery medium of content. In fact, it is in our commitment to content that is most getting in the way of our evolution. I believe learners will seek out the information they need to do the jobs we ask of them and/or the information for topics and situations that interest them (even better!). What we need to do in the learning and development profession is to find ways to enable and support them in:
- Reflecting on their own performance and potential;
- Practicing what they want to get better at; and
- Cultivating feedback from multiple sources on their performance and progress.
It’s in these three activities that I believe we will hit performance targets, beat boredom, and fight feelings of being overwhelmed at work.