Learn how to assess your audience so your learning solution moves their development.
- I have two big critiques of our industry. The first is that a lot of learning is just misaligned to the needs of the organization and the people it's supposed to be serving. If it's not solving real problems, then it's not a good use of anyone's time. My second is that a lot of learning is just not sophisticated enough for adult learners. In our attempt to create the one-size solution we often oversimplify things or gloss over the sticky issues, but that's exactly what we need to focus in on. And don't get me started about facilitators who that being perky and high energy is how you create engagement.
The secret to delivering great learning and development lives in your ability to assess your audiences and meet their needs. You have different audiences, one group is your stakeholders, the leaders in your organization who have business issues that need to be solved. We've already talked about how to be a strategic partner and asked great consulting questions. The second key audience is the learners who will use or attend to the learning solution, and whose behavior you're trying to shift. It's vitally important that you spend some time understanding your audiences.
This will become the data that will help you build and impactful and effective solution. I'm going to walk you through my process using a real example. Recently, I've been asked by several organizations to help them with change. Specifically, they want their managers and leaders better equipped to lead people through change. In order for me to deliver the right solution, I need to know a few things. First, I need to understand current state of their skills and abilities and where they need to get to. I can get this information through asking great consulting questions.
I first get the view of the leaders who are requesting my assistance. In this case, the newly hired chief technology officer for a large organization is in the process of completely overhauling the structure and services of the group. He needs his managers to get their directory ports on board for these changes and then execute them over a 36 month period. We've identified that the key skills are communicating the change plan, keeping people motivated over the long haul and executing the plan. Second, I need to understand the perspective of the learners, in this case the managers.
As part of my design process, I speak to a few of them using the same consulting questions. I cannot tell you how helpful this is. It's always the case that the leader's view is somewhat different from the what the folks on the ground are experiencing. Neither is right or wrong, but my solution must solve for the gap. The learners view is crucial for giving me the complete picture, and in this case I discovered that their employees are already overwhelmed with their current workload and not sure how to fit in more.
In addition, the teams have a lot of cross dependencies and are not necessarily collaborating well across the groups. And finally, many are concerned that they don't have enough staff to pull off the leaders expectations. Some staff are new and others are burned out or overwhelmed. After gathering all the information, I spend some time mapping both perspectives, because the truth is, I need to solve for all of it. The participants will need to find value in the training or they'll just tune out.
And if I don't solve for their real pain points, I cannot ultimately accomplish what the leader needs. Now, this may seem like a tall order, and it is, yet it's the truth of the situation. In fact, it's the truth of every L and D situation, yours included. If we really want to solve for the organization's needs we have to address the real stuff, the issues, the context and the people, or else it will ultimately be unsuccessful. Based on these conversations, I know I need to create something that promotes awareness and dialogue across the groups and gives them tools they can use immediately.
Because all change is an emotional process, I need to give them some emotional intelligence skills and some strategies for mapping how the team is doing and executing the plan. I propose that offer six hours of training spread out as three sessions of two hours each. That way, they can practice and tinker in between as they apply the learning to their day-to-day work. Since they all work in one location, we schedule it as an in-person training. As you can see, taking the time to thoroughly assess your audiences will help you build the most effective learning solutions.
- Identify the six stages of organizational development.
- Describe how to recognize your organization’s L&D stage.
- Explain how to create a culture of learning in an organization.
- Summarize important aspects of adult learning theory.
- Recall the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
- Recognize the importance of assessing your audience prior to training.