How Cutting-Edge Training and Learning Can Help Transform Your Business


Many companies are investing a great deal of time and money in new technologies and processes to achieve their digital transformation goals. This is warranted at a time when so much emerging and potentially game-changing technology is available, but sometimes businesses miss the importance of investing in their own workforce – the linchpin to making sure transformation succeeds. It’s like buying new tires for your car but failing to fill them with air.

Organizational change management (OCM) is the discipline that offers stakeholder support, targeted communications and training to help ensure teams are ready to maximize the benefits of transformation projects. In particular, continuous learning and training are keys to ensuring an enterprise gets the full return on its investment.

Two principles are especially critical for empowering your employees during times of change:

  • Use the 55-25-20 model for learning and development. This means that MOST learning – 55 percent – comes from hands-on experience while employees are actually doing their jobs. Another 25 percent comes from informal or social learning, such as coaching and collaborating with peers. Just 20 percent of professional development comes from formal training and similar educational events. Understanding this and creating a blended learning approach that takes it all into account will work to your advantage.
  • Make sure users can access learning information while doing tasks. This goes hand-in-hand with the 55-percent figure above. You need to make sure your workers can easily access training materials and other relevant information while they are in the flow of work, on the job.

Here are three ways companies should put these principles into practice to prepare for change:

  1. Train for streamlined processes: If a company needs assistance in preparing its workers for new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and the streamlined processes to go with it, leaders should consider bringing in an OCM team to help guide employees through the changes to increase user adoption, employee engagement and program success. The OCM team should identify the business impacts of the coming change and create a network of change champions and super users to help bring peers up to speed. An OCM learning enablement initiative should also include designing process- and role-specific education courses supplemented with hands-on exercises and business-transaction simulations. The OCM learning team then delivers train-the-trainer courses based on actual roles and scenarios that employees will have in the new systems. The company will then have new custom training materials for both the current project and for teaching future employees to use the new systems. The courses and simulations will also be mapped to specific user transactions in the new systems, so workers can later access content in the flow of work, when they need a refresher on a process or a specific transaction in the system.
  2. Prepare global IT users for a new system: Most enterprise IT groups are tasked with rapidly and aggressively transforming their organizations’ systems through massive, worldwide digital transformations and migrating to applications in the cloud. To prepare thousands of technical users across multiple continents for big changes to everyday IT service-management processes and systems, an organization should put an OCM team in place to address the risks associated with user adoption. These big changes often involve moving from disparate legacy systems, each with varying related localized processes, to one standardized system and new roles. The OCM team should perform extensive discovery, complete a detailed stakeholder analysis, hold change-impact risk-mitigation workshops, and build a multi-level change network, as well as identify and train a team of global super users. An extensive communications plan, including road-show events, train-the-trainer sessions, a user-friendly project intranet site, and an online social collaboration community, can help. Shortly after launch, super users should report their “go to” resource for answers about the project are self-service tools like online frequently asked questions (FAQs), easy-to-access “help” documentation to allow on-the-job learning, and a social community to collaborate and informally learn from peers, instead of costly calls to the service desk.
  3. Enact a learning strategy and training program: Companies that need help training and enabling users when they implement new workplace software must often educate even employees who won’t directly touch the new software. In many cases, some of the company’s other workers also need to understand the related processes designed to better manage the business and automate certain functions. An OCM training team can conduct interviews with the company’s subject-matter experts to make sure they have the right information for the design, development and implementation of customized tools for learning, as well as to understand who needs to know what. For the directly affected users, the OCM team can build courseware and simulations for a blended learning approach of both instructor-led training and eLearning that employees can use on the job and through contextual online help. The goal is to give users easy access to newly created learning materials, including e-books, simulations and printable job aids outlining the new processes, all through a content-collaboration website. Then, broader communications, as well as postings related to these new materials, can be used to educate the rest of the affected workforce.

No matter the industry or company size, the reality of today’s workplace is that employees need to learn quickly while on the job. Rapid content-development platforms help create materials to use for the 20 percent of learning that’s still formalized. Social-collaboration platforms create a powerful form of crowdsourcing that can help with the 25 percent of informal or social learning. For the remaining 55 percent, advances in technology can help employees learn via video, through help buttons in the context of doing work, and with other innovative, collaborative tools similar to how they receive information in their everyday lives.

Change today requires a combination of creative methods to engage workers and quickly get them up to speed. This way, an organization can accomplish its implementation goals to save money, improve productivity, increase operational and budget transparency, create more stable services, and increase adaptability to future needs. With the support of an OCM team, companies will launch change projects with greater levels of adoption, user engagement and success.

This article originally appeared in CMSWire.