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3 Ways to Elevate Performance through Continual Learning

Jason Diamond Arnold

December 12, 2019

As many managers are closing out their year by completing annual performance reviews with their direct reports, the performance review conversations happening around this time are often focused on the key accomplishments of the past year. Employees are desperate to demonstrate their value and worth to the organization by citing a list of achievements and contributions that may or may not reflect their actual performance — for better or worse. Managers need to report out on how effective their team and team members were in contributing to the corporate strategy. And while accomplishments and bottom line business results are vital to the success of an organization, one of the most critical conversations that is overlooked and missed during performance reviews is in regards to how a manager’s direct reports developed themselves over the course of their year as they pursued their goals.

For millennial employees and the incoming Generation Z in particular, professional development is a top factor in engagement and retention. Growth and learning is a critical aspect in talent development, but a lot of leaders within organizations tend to place it low on the list of priorities, behind financial numbers and performance metrics.

#ContinuedLearning isn’t just an end-of-year review conversation, it’s an ongoing dialogue. Take charge of professional development in your company with these three tips from @InspireSoftware:Tweet This!

Leaders in today’s progressive organizations are relentlessly focused on cultivating an individual’s desire to grow, while factoring in the company’s overall business objectives. Employee learning and business results are not opposing forces, rather, they continually feed each other by meeting the psychological needs of individuals while producing great business results for the organization. An effective learning and development strategy is a viable business investment for organizations.

There are three fundamentals ways your organization can elevate performance through continual learning:

1. Evolve Your Learning Technology

Although a structured learning management system that is controlled, edited, and managed internally is a critical resource for your learning and development strategy, in today’s data-rich world, you need more than just a checklist of courses your employees have taken; you need to understand how their entire learning experience within and beyond your organization influences their performance. Today’s successful learning organizations are adapting new forms of learning technology through Learning Record Stores, or an LRS.

A Learning Record Store (LRS) is a data store system that serves as a repository for learning records collected from connected systems where learning activities are conducted. It is an essential component in the process flow for using the Experience API (xAPI) that serves as an Open Source eLearning platform that is more advanced than the traditional — and outdated — learning technology standards like AICC and SCORM. The concept of the LRS was introduced to the eLearning industry in the last decade, and it’s evolved the way eLearning specifications function into a more fluid and integrated learning experience. The promise of an LRS is that you move beyond just consuming online learning courses, but also outsourced learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning or YouTube — in addition to tracking podcasts and blog articles that an employee or learner consumes as part of the overall learning process.

Beyond tracking a wide variety of learning experiences, an LRS can also produce data that takes learning to “doing,” even with soft skills. If a learner takes a feedback or problem-solving course, and they use a performance management software, an LRS can link their activities back to key learnings from the online courses. This type of data can be aligned with other critical Business Intelligence and HR analytics such as engagement and retention data to give organizations more insight into not only what employees have learned, but how they are applying it and how it’s affecting bottom-line business results.

The promise of a learning record system is that you move beyond just consuming online learning courses. @InspireSoftware has more about transforming your strategy to #ContinualLearning:Tweet This!

Learning initiatives can be self-driven, guided, or classroom-based, and all are kept organized and up-to-date in a centralized, searchable library in your LMS where administrators can deliver course work, add employees to a particular curriculum, add or update curriculum, and review submissions from employees for new content.

2. Align Learning with Performance

Learning should be intentional practice to build skills that help individuals perform at a higher level in their current role, as well as build skills for future roles that will help that individual better serve the organization they are currently working for, or develop other opportunities beyond their current employer. But just because an employee is interested in a particular skill or topic, doesn’t mean that assigning them any curriculum in a variety of subject matters is going to be effective in their career development — or achieve the business results your organization needs.

Aligned learning is about selecting a curriculum that is consistent with the overall needs of the organization while meeting the needs of the individual — creating a common language between employer and employee to enhance the organizational culture and help elevate performance. If individual learners select courses without guidance on what the organization deems as best practices, you run the risk of having learners exploring learning paths that aren’t relevant to the needs of the organization. Offer learning curriculums that work for everyone, stick with it, and work to align competencies and skills with that curriculum throughout the entire organization.

Bonus Content: Watch the Encourage Learning,
Development, & Upskilling Webinar

3. Ongoing Learning through Ongoing Conversations

Continued learning isn’t just an end-of-year review conversation, it’s an ongoing dialogue about one of the foundational psychological needs of an individual: The need to build competence in their given roles. One of the best ways to do so is to promote a culture of continual learning while elevating performance throughout the organization.

Continual one-to-one performance conversations can help an individuals stay on track toward important business objectives, while discussing ways to develop their competencies toward their roles and personal goals. Managers must take the responsibility to initiate a process that sets individual learning goals that are aligned with their roles — and the skills that ultimately align with organizational needs — but also what the learning journey will look like for developing their future roles and responsibilities. Having regular learning conversations with individuals that are focused on learning initiatives aligned with performance will help them better pursue their goals, maintain motivation, and instill a positive outlook toward their overall contribution to the organization.

Discussing a continual learning plan that is aligned with an individual’s role and their desired future roles during performance reviews is an effective way to engage and employee’s career aspirations while also aligning them with meaningful organizational outcomes. When organizations cultivate a culture of continual learning for personal growth and align their training to the programs that address your organization’s needs, people thrive and business excels.

By re-visiting learning initiatives frequently, aligning them to company objectives, and organizing them in a convenient, user-friendly, adaptive LRS, your employees gain access to an increased sense of ownership in their growth and development, their work, and their future. We’d love to share more about how Inspire Academy elevates performance through continual learning, and we’re happy to help you with your learning objectives for 2020 and beyond.