Deputizing Departmental Training: The Next Big Challenge In Learning & Development

men-in-meeting_600x400_aFor more than a decade, a wave of new eLearning tools have helped free organizational learning and development professionals from repetitive classroom trainings. Instead of standing in front of a conference room of employees each quarter, trainers can now deploy curriculum in the form of online video presentations and check for comprehension with interactive quizzes and games.

Not only has eLearning made the work of L&D professionals more scalable, it has also made the content they produce better. By making lessons available on-demand, they have ensured that employees can review whatever content they need, when they need it. From software training to regulatory compliance, eLearning has transformed the way companies train.

But as learning and development professionals know, designing courses that will span the entire organization is just one piece of the training puzzle. While a great deal of the emphasis for training professionals tends to be on onboarding new employees and communicating company policies, procedures, and culture, there is also a need to produce a wealth of training curricula for individual departments and physical locations.

Departmental training at scale: the next big challenge in employee development

When departmental job functions are scalable, spending L&D resources on training materials makes sense. Customer service representatives, HR coordinators, and inside sales representatives — any job function that needs to be executed consistently by dozens or hundreds of individuals — are all great candidates for specifically targeted onboarding and training content.

That opportunity, however, creates significant pressure for training teams. From interviewing subject matter experts to identifying the right andragogy for the content and audience, it can be a real challenge to develop curricula tailored for individual departments and job functions.

Worse, even where training materials exist, what happens when someone on the team finds a better way to do their job? A small, iterative improvement might mean hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars saved when multiplied across an entire workforce. How does your organization ensure that those tidbits of knowledge can be captured and shared for the benefit of all, without waiting until the next round of curriculum redesign?

Empowering training within departments

Today, eLearning tools are increasingly available outside the walls of the L&D department. This is great news for corporate trainers. By extending the tools of the trade to subject matter experts within a department, L&D professionals can deputize their colleagues, employing the benefits of on-demand training materials in an expanding number of applications.

Onboarding New Hires

Beyond the blanket onboarding process common to every employee, functional teams have a host of new information to share with new hires. From communicating the roles of other individuals on the team to navigating a labyrinth of corporate resources, every department will need to explain the tools, techniques, and team members that will be critical to their new hires’ success. Content like this doesn’t usually need to be designed in through a sophisticated and rigorous curriculum design process, it just needs to be clear and accessible, and to be able to adapt as team processes, tools, and people evolve.

Capturing the Knowledge of Outgoing Team Members

For smaller teams, where one individual’s deep institutional knowledge is key to the whole team’s success, turnover can be a nightmare to productivity. When someone leaves, they take their knowledge with them. It is only in the weeks and months after their colleague’s departure that teams take notice as they struggle to do without the knowledge they once had. Taking steps to document the knowledge of outgoing employees can help maintain the team’s workflow, creating a knowledge base that existing and future employees can rely on to guide their continued work.

On-Demand Skills Training

In most all professions, there are specific skills and tools that employees will need to master in order to perform their jobs successfully. From specialized software — think CRMs in sales or EHRs in medicine — to homegrown mechanical skills and even effective customer interactions, companies rely on their employees’ ability to master the tools of their trade. While some of these tools and processes will be so common that on-demand learning materials and training workshops will be offered by their vendors or private training companies, others will be hyper specific to an individual company or department. Giving employees inside those departments the ability to record a screen share presentation of a piece of software, or model great in-store customer engagement, allows individuals to share their mastery with their colleagues for the benefit of the entire team.

Sharing Best Practices and Process Feedback

In business, no process, technology, or team structure is permanent. Development professionals want their colleagues to keep learning, and so do the companies that employ them. Whether it comes from an article in a trade publication, a tip from a friend, a presentation at a workshop, or even an epiphany by the employee themselves, learning can come from anywhere. Once a better way to do things resides within one person, shouldn’t everyone else on the team know it too? The sharing of best practices and the solicitation of advice from colleagues is a process that has existed as long as humans have been able to communicate with one another. Known as social or informal learning, this process ensures that teams will keep moving forward together.

Making video authoring accessible throughout your organization

Today, L&D departments can do quite a bit to deputize their colleagues all across their organizations to better train within their teams.

Leading L&D teams have already mastered video as a curriculum authoring tool, leveraging the technology as an effective and intuitive way to replicate interpersonal learning activities across time and space. And whereas years ago this entailed a substantial investment in specialized AV staff and technology, today that requirement no longer holds.

Modern enterprise video platforms have made it easy to extend eLearning tools to every desktop in the organization if a company so chooses. Today video platforms like Panopto run easily on any PC or Mac, and enable anyone anywhere to record virtually anything, with the webcam, camcorder, mobile device, or specialty tools of their choice. Videos are automatically uploaded and formatted, indexed for search, and centralized for convenient sharing (whether through email or an enterprise social network like Jive or Salesforce Chatter). Without the need for dedicated specialists or processes, these tools can make recording and sharing a targeted training video even faster than typing up an email — and make the content itself exponentially more engaging.

Panopto has already been used by L&D organizations to empower their colleagues to embrace training at the department level, and to help teams in every industry better onboard new employees, capture knowledge from outgoing employees, and foster social learning. To learn more about how Panopto can help you build a culture of learning at your organization, contact a member of our team to schedule a demo or request a free trial today.

Published: July 21, 2015