I have talked quite a bit over the years about how I believe training and development is an essential component of any business. Even small businesses, with limited budgets and resources, can put a focus on employee learning and will reap significant rewards by doing so. It is one of the main reasons we are rolling out our learning management system next year. It is our way of helping our startup and small business clients put an emphasis on employee development.
In recent years, web based training has taken a front seat in many businesses. Anything that allows employees to take a training course when and where it best suits them is important for many businesses with so many mobile employees. Training efficiency has become as important as training efficacy.
For this reason, when I am proposing a new training and development plan to potential clients, I always build in multiple training methods. I find that the best training programs, especially leadership development programs, include a mix of in-person and web based training modules. Certain topics are better suited for an in-person facilitated traditional training setting, while others can be understood just as easily from an online course. The important piece is to understand which is which and more importantly, vary the length of time.
One of the things my team and I are enjoying playing around with and will be adding more opportunities for our clients to use in 2018 is microlearning. In this day and age we want everything at our fingertips quickly. We watch videos instead of reading because we can get to the information quickly. We can get as much out of a 15 minute YouTube video as we can a two hour long documentary if done correctly. That is the idea behind microlearning.
We consider microlearning sessions to be no more than 15-20 minutes in length. They are quick hits of information that can be consumed anytime, anywhere. They supplement the greater training and development strategy by dialing in on a subject that is only touched on in another training sessions.
Let me give you an example.
We created a leadership development program for a startup that is executed for all new leaders coming into the business or being promoted into a managerial position. The program consists of four in-person training sessions on what we consider the big leadership topics: communication, engagement/development, leading through change and leadership style. Obviously in even a full day training session, which these aren’t, you can not cover every inch of these topics. You have to hit the major points and use other learnings throughout the year to supplement.
This is where microlearning come in.
Under each of these topics we created sub-topics. Some of these are going to be the same from company to company, while others are specific to whatever the company may face. These topics can be covered in web based training, but we know that to keep the trainee engaged and wanting to continue the sessions, we must break up the style and length of time. Rather than have a 2 hour session on motivating teams, we can offer a one hour high level webinar and then offer 4-15 minute microlearning sessions which speak to different personality types allowing the leader to pick the ones that most apply to their team.
Employees are more likely to participate in and find value in training that they feel most applies to them. We find that requiring the big training, but then giving multiple options for additional training in the form of microlearning encourages leaders to participate more and feel they get more out of it.
And any training and development program is only as good as what an employee can get out of it and put to use.
Another great thing about microlearning is that they can be used to allow other employees to share their expertise. Employees who may not feel comfortable getting up in front of a group for an hour and training on a topic even if they are an expert, but they may be willing to record a quick 15 minute session via an online service where they don’t have to stand in front of anyone and can get straight to the point.
The possibilities of how you use microlearning are really endless. I’ve talked mostly about web based, but they could be in the form of podcasts or blog reading. Any medium that allows the user to consume helpful information in a few minutes of time can be considered powerful microlearning that adds to the overall learning and development program.
Are you using microlearning in your business? I would love to hear how you are using it and how it’s working for your employees. Leave a comment below or email us directly to tell your story.