It’s the time of year when many start considering their organisation’s 2015 capability programmes and setting budgets. As capability and learning professionals, we all counsel others on the dangers of always doing what you’ve always done, so how can we shake up our own plans for 2015? Here’s some inspiration for what will make a genuine difference to the effectiveness of your learning programmes in driving performance.

1. Go see for yourself

‘A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world’ said John le Carre. When was the last time you and your team spent time with your customers, and by that I mean your learners? What are their working days really like? What do they actually use to get their jobs done, who do they talk to when they get stuck, where do they go for support? Whilst you may not be able to talk to and observe everyone, try to meet some of them some of the time, and possibly consider conducting a Learning Culture Audit to supplement your personal observations.

2. Context is king – not just where or what but when

We need to consider the whole cycle of learning, not just the formal part served up to the learner. Performance improvement primarily happens on the job, not in the classroom. What could be done to support more effective and efficient ‘on the job’ learning, delivered at the moment of need? Two stats worth thinking about from a recent report from the Corporate Executive Board Company to support you in re-allocating resources towards sustained, ongoing learning, beyond the formal intervention.

  • 57% of employees expect learning to be more “just in time,” or as needed, than it was three years ago
  • Only 21% of employees expect most of their learning to happen in the classroom

3. Get lined up – the hidden glue

Line managers will make or break a learning programme. Clearly they need to be supportive of the plan, but have you factored in their skill requirements? Will they be able to coach their teams, explain the changes to a process, foster and role model the behaviours for that shift in desired performance? Why not plan a complimenting learning programme for your line managers?

4. Learning to Learn – teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

This is my personal hot topic. In the CEB 2014 Learning Culture Survey they reported that only 20% of employees say they are effective at learning and only 16% of Heads of L&D reported focusing on providing support in this area. We readily accept that people need help learning new skills or improving existing ones, but actually provide little or no support on how best to learn. Learning is a skill in its own right. Just helping people become more aware of how they currently learn, deconstructing the processes and establishing their strengths and weaknesses is a big step in the right direction. Incorporate into your programme ‘Learning to Learn’, either as stand alone events or during existing ones.

5. Future fund

Change is happening within the learning profession and the successes & failures are not always clear or yet proven. Influenced by new technology, changes in organisational ways of working, shifts in employee expectations. Put aside a small innovation fund so you too can test & learn as opportunities emerge during the year. In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing one or two of our own innovations.

So there you have it: 5 tips for creating stronger learning programmes and making your budget go further in 2015. And, as a final tip for you. Don’t forget your own capability needs. It’s easy to focus on the needs of your customers, but what are you doing for yourself and your team as a learning professional? How are you planning to stay abreast of what’s new, exciting and of potential value to the business?

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This post is by Bruce Levi, Learning Excellence Director at Brand Learning