Field Guide: Performance-Driven Learning: Three Methods to Develop Employee Skills

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1 Field Guide: Performance-Driven Learning: Three Methods to Develop Employee Skills E-learning is already known to be the most efficient and costeffective way to deliver training to a workforce. However, the best way to truly prepare employees for meeting organizational objectives is to focus the training on three major areas of skill development. Using a learning management solution that is capable of delivering optimal training on each type of skill and checking for comprehension by examining the outcomes from other human capital management processes will drive performance within the company as employees develop their soft, functional and compliance-based skills.

2 S 2 Introduction Organizations that want to avoid the fruitless efforts of learning for learning s sake instead consider the strategic vision of developing talent to drive overall organizational performance. The concept of performance-driven learning is key to effective employee development, which impacts your organization s bottom line and gains the highest return on your learning and development investment. E-learning is the right tool to deliver those skills that will enable your company to align human capital resources with organizational objectives. Today, forward-thinking human resources (HR) executives are viewing learning management as a strategic component of their overall strategic human capital mission and leveraging integrated talent management applications as the vehicle to drive optimum employee performance. This field guide details the e-learning approaches to developing the three major skill areas necessary for a fully functioning workforce and the performance approaches behind that development.

3 3 #1: SOFT-SKILL DEVELOPMENT Soft skill development targets the improvement of an individual s competencies and behaviors. These encompass the communication, negotiation, confl ict resolution, personal effectiveness, creative problem solving, strategic thinking and team building skills that govern much of the interpersonal actions inside and outside of a company. While these skills tend to be regarded as less essential than functional skills, they can be much more diffi cult to grasp and generally form the basis for anyone in a sales or customer-facing position. E-learning is an optimal training method for soft skills because of the variety of training sessions that can be created. Using short, self-paced learning modules, employees can view typical interaction scenarios and engage in periodic check points that asses their personal choices. Such trainings can be accompanied by a dynamic repository of frequently asked questions and best-practice answers on the subject matter. The newest and most infl uential way e-learning can aid in the development of soft skills is with social learning capabilities. Because soft skills rely on social interaction, using a learning system where employees can contribute to discussion forums and blogs with other employees and experts about the training materials and real-life situations means they will gain more from the initial training and see how these skills are being applied in the fi eld. Using other strategic human capital management solutions like talent management and analytics can help your organization link sales and customer satisfaction ratings from the field to soft skill development initiatives. These metrics will help your company determine which employees have high competency in certain areas and which should supplement their skill sets with more training. Because soft skills are crucial in management situations, competency in courses could be one indicator for future promotion consideration within a career development solution.

4 4 Soft skill development can be as simple as educating employees on expectations and company culture, or can focus specifically on techniques and scenarios related to the following highly sought skills: Communication skills Interpersonal skills Rapport building Innovation & creativity Leadership Emotional intelligence Management skills Motivation Stress management Business communication Language skills Time management Self-management Conflict resolution Negotiating skills People skills Decision making Personality development Business etiquette Attitude & skill building Art of delegating Change management Mediation Goal management Memory enhancement Anger management Coping skills Train the trainer Interviewing skills Presentation skills Team building Assertive skills Art of influencing #2: FUNCTIONAL SKILL DEVELOPMENT Functional skill development targets an employee s improvement of hard skills such as software skills or accounting. Companies cannot sell or provide products or services if the workforce doesn t maintain the appropriate tactical skills to effi ciently carry out tasks. Often, companies concentrate heavily on such skill development in the time directly following the execution of a new job or task. However, because these jobs and tasks are generally on-going, e-learning courses can provide a variety of functional skill training to supplement experience and stage in the project. Using e-learning to train on functional skills, you can adeptly identify the level of knowledge of a learner with diagnostic assessments and screenings. Then you can assign a special learning program for that employee that may be a series of courses to help refresh existing or develop new functional skills. Because you will be training employees on how to carry out certain tasks, you will easily be able to check for comprehension on what they have learned with interactive exercises or post-training assessments.

5 5 One of the best ways to provide on-the-job functional skills training is with mobile learning. Mobile devices can store and deliver job aids and abbreviated courses, anywhere and at any time. Giving employees the option of mobile learning will help reinforce the methods that should be used in completing specifi c tasks, eliminating stressful situations that arise from uncertainty. These skills are not only important for the smooth fl ow of daily operations in a company, but they make it easy to identify employees that have a mastery of one or a variety of skill sets that would qualify him or her for promotion, succession or a move into other areas of the business. Because functional skills are quantifi able, companies can test their employees during hiring and recruiting and at regular intervals thereafter for improvement. As part of the performance review process, companies will be able to compare an employee s knowledge of certain tasks on the job and their comprehension based on LMS testing. Integrating a workforce management system with skill information from an e-learning solution means that only the people with the necessary skills to complete a task would be scheduled to work on that task. This integration allows managers to avoid unproductive or disastrous working conditions stemming from a lack of functional skill development. Your company probably expects employees to posess or train on a variety of functional skills, particularly if there are several different divisions or activities within the company. The following is a simple list of the aspects a functional skill may cover: Communication skills Interpersonal skills Rapport building Innovation and creativity Time management Self-management Conflict resolution Negotiating skills People skills

6 6 #3: COMPLIANCE DEVELOPMENT Compliance training includes safety training, harassment training, and/or diversity training. While compliance-based skills may include soft or functional skills at the roots, these skills tend to be particular to a company or industry and supports regulatory, as well as legal, requirements. E-learning tracks compliance training and keeps a record for future reference. For some organizations, management of compliance needs is justifi cation alone for automating learning. In many highly regulated industries where compliance training is typically ongoing, e-learning is extremely helpful for creating and reminding employees to take new courses in the allotted time or for versioning existing courses to refl ect slightly new materials. A learning management system that tracks compliance training completions can ensure that the company has taken the proper procedures to prevent costly mistakes and breaches of law. Because compliance training is so important to many companies legal ability to operate, managers can use goal management and benefi ts administration to tie completions directly into employee expectations and rewards. Part of keeping employees motivated to fi nish their tasks is to enable them and incentivize them. Several industies find themselves facing particularly detailed and stringent compliance regulations that require sufficient training and training management to prevent breaches of acceptable standards. Financial Services Public Sector Manufacturing Technology Auto Dealerships Healthcare Non-Profit Leisure / Hospitality Trucking / Transportation Pharmaceuticals

7 7 The Ideal Scenario for Developing Skills The strategic view of nurturing talent includes prioritizing and defi ning development plans based on the needs of both the individual and the organization. The ideal scenario takes into account the following: Key organizational objectives are cascaded across the enterprise Individual performance goals are linked to organizational objectives to ensure focused direction Competencies are defi ned and used as the basis for job profi les 360 feedback from peers and managers highlight competency gaps and additional focus for individual development Skill gaps identifi ed from job profi les and talent profi les highlight other potential defi ciencies Learning priorities and development plans are based on these jointly developed performance goals from the identifi ed skill and competency gaps Learning management includes blended solutions (e.g., webbased, mobile, social) to meet the diverse development needs of different roles Learning content management enables subject matter experts across the organization to easily contribute to learning courseware E-learning includes personalized learning paths to provide the most needed development on demand (just in-time) Taking the cycle a step further, learning and development objectives can be tied directly to compensation and incentive programs to further reinforce the importance of development programs as they relate to key organizational objectives. Learning can also be linked to succession planning to ensure future successors are ready and bench strength is adequate to meet the future leadership needs of the company. The holistic view of organizational learning must be considered a key integrated component of talent management and incorporate a variety of components for learning to play a strategic role in organizations.

8 8 Development priorities must be linked with performance goals and organizational objectives. Courses need to be aligned with competencies for effective learning automation. All behavioral assessments should be linked to individuals and their positions and related through a competency framework. This competency framework is the common thread that provides the basis for various talent management suites to support an integrated process. For example, employees can sign up for courses that relate to the skill gaps identifi ed from 360 feedback assessments or recognized during the hiring process. Managers can then monitor the effectiveness of learning in meeting the organization s goals.

9 9 Conclusion Functional skills are skills where the rules stay the same, regardless of which company, circumstance or people you work with. In contrast, soft skills are self-management skills and people skills where the rules change depending on the company culture and people you work with. Further, companies, industries or agencies may enforce certain rules with which your employees must stay in compliance. Each of these skills needs to be assigned, taught and measured in different ways to achieve the desired performance. Simply tracking learning participation and effectiveness is not enough to meet the CEO s and other executives goals of driving business performance, impacting the bottom line, and increasing shareholder value. Successful organizations are leveraging strategic human capital management solutions to link strategic functions such as goal alignment, performance management, competencies, compensation, development and succession planning. By linking these critical components, your organization can better manage, motivate, reward and improve the skills of every individual employee across your organization. E-learning maximizes the training dollars spent by ensuring that courses represented in the course catalog are relevant to the objectives of the organization and are delivered in the optimal format for employee consumption, such as on-the-job training activities, publications, audio and video materials, online courseware, virtual classrooms, video conferencing, online coaching and mentoring, online collaboration, and other online resource libraries. SumTotal is a learning management provider that supports the spectrum of strategic human capital solutions to help your company drive employee performance with learning initiatives. With more than 25 years of experience, SumTotal has helped to automate and streamline the business processes of companies across all industries, include nearly 50 percent of the Fortune 500.

10 10 MORE INFORMATION For additional information, send an to ABOUT SUMTOTAL SumTotal Systems, Inc. is the global leader in strategic Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions that provide organizations with a new level of visibility to help make more informed business decisions and accelerate growth. Recognized by industry analysts as the most complete solution, SumTotal provides full employee lifecycle management, including a core system of record, from a single provider for improved business intelligence. The company offers customers of all sizes and industries the most flexibility and choice with multiple purchase, configuration, and deployment options. We have increased the performance of the world s largest organizations including Sony Electronics (NYSE: SNE), AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN [ADR]; London: AZN), Amway (KUL:AMWAY), Seagate (NYSE: STX), Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). For more information, or to request a demo, please call +1 (866) (US / Canada), +1 (352) (international) or visit CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS: SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, INC NW 43RD STREET SUITE #150 GAINESVILLE, FL USA PHONE: FAX: EMEA: SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, UK THAMES STREET WINDSOR, BERKSHIRE UNITED KINGDOM, SL4 1TX PHONE +44 (0) FAX +44 (0) APAC: SUMTOTAL SYSTEMS, INDIA PVT. LTD. 7TH FLOOR MAXIMUS TOWERS BUILDING 2B, MIND SPACE RAHEJA IT PARK, CYBERABAD HYDERABAD, AP , INDIA PHONE: +91 (0) FAX: +91 (0) SumTotal Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. SumTotal, the SumTotal logo, and ToolBook are registered trademarks or trademarks of SumTotal Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. 012_0327LS

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