What We Have Learned About How Employees Learn

A teacher is reading one of a pile of books to see what he has Learned About How Employees Learn

We’ve Learned About How Employees Learn
We have finally learned about how employees learn.  There’s “old school” learning and there’s “new school” learning.  Learning by the old school method involved a lot of lecture, repetition, memorizing and a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

It worked to a degree.  But we have since learned how employees learn more effectively – specifically about the process of learning that leads to better understanding, lasting retention and measurable on-the-job behavior change.  In a nutshell, effective learning is far more interactive.

Learning Can Be Learned
The good news is that learning is a skill that can be learned.  A recent study found that learning strategies and instructional design approaches are more effective than raw cognitive ability in acquiring new skills.  When it comes to learning new things, your ability to master a new skill is 15% more significant than IQ.

An Example from the Elementary School Classroom
Many parents today are at a loss when they try to help their children through Common Core Math.  Multiplication tables used to be memorized.  Now students arrive at their answers through a new and often  puzzling problem solving methodology.

A recent San Jose Mercury News article states that “The good old days of memorizing math formulas or multiplication tables are gone. Instead, Common Core math requires students to show how they reason their way to the right answer. As a result, many parents say homework is far more complicated than it used to be.”

But today’s kids get it and are far closer than their earlier counterparts to being able to set up their own equations, work with unknowns, and understand what a number array is.

What This Means for Corporate Learning
Those of us charged with developing the talent our company needs to thrive, need to pay attention to what we have learned about how employees learn.

Most now know that to truly prepare workers to learn and acquire new skills, lecture should be at a minimum.  We recommend that it be no more than 30 percent of any training session.  As soon as concepts are introduced, training should shift toward interactive learning…practice exercises, role plays, real-world scenarios, simulation, individual coaching, feedback, reflection, and performance tests.

Far more learning can be carried back to the job if learning is relevant and active…with upfront analysis and real problem solving followed by ongoing reflection and reinforcement activities.

The 5R’s to Help Make Learning Stick
Once you understand how employees learn, don’t forget to focus on skill adoption and retention.   Our learning research has identified five attributes that must be present for the sustainable transfer of skills from the workshop to the job:

  • Relevance – the learning should have high comparative relevance to the learner, their boss and the company as a whole
  • Resources – there should be sufficient time, information, tools, technology, supporting processes, and structures made available to help produce the desired result
  • Reinforcement – you need an environment that will consistently monitor and support new skill and behavior application
  • Renewal – you need to ensure continuous improvement through coaching, refreshers and follow-up
  • Review – it is important to review the effectiveness of the learning intervention at both the individual and group levels

The Bottom Line
We’ve learned about how employees learn. Learning is a learned behavior.  Learners benefit from thoughtful planning, effective decision making, active reflection and experiential practice.  Just make sure the new skills and behaviors are highly relevant to success for the learner, their boss and the business as a whole.

To learn more about effective learning strategies, download The Pros and Cons of 3 Training Rollout Strategies

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LSA Global’s consultant brought a fresh perspective to our behavioral based interviewing strategy for two key executive positions we needed to fill, and their consultant helped us develop questions that produced a much deeper understanding of candidates’ capabilities. I am confident that the two new executives joining our organization have the right skills to add significant value. Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.

Because of the unique nature of our business, Excel is a core application in our accounting organization. After three attempts to find an Excel consultant who is capable of helping our finance team integrate advanced applications into our work processes we found LSA and Alex. He was not only a “Real” Excel expert but was masterful in helping us identify where to use Excel applications in our processes to increase our group’s efficiency.

SPO Partners & Co
Kim Silva, CFO

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

The LSA Global team was very receptive and flexible to our needs every step of the way. Their staff and facilitator demonstrated attention to detail, responsiveness, and professional courtesy. The participants were thrilled with the outcome and rated the communication skills workshop and the facilitator as ‘Excellent’. I’d highly recommend working with the LSA Global team to meet your professional development needs.

John Mastrorilli
FRDP Leader

Intuit

I am very impressed with the quality of work and talent. LSA did a great job of listening to my needs and providing the exact management training program expertise I needed to get the job done.

Don Pryor
Director, Business Planning & Analysis

We have worked with LSA Global for our learning and development needs and have always had great success. They helped us recently with customized Management Workshops that we held for the second time. It was fantastic, and I would highly recommend LSA to anyone that is attempting to get immediate and impactful improvements.

Mary Johnston
HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

Mike Normant
Learning & Development

ebay

We recently contacted LSA Global to assist us with a unique training request. We gave LSA a very short deadline and LSA custom designed a training program to meet our exact requirements within the limited time allotted to them. We found their facilitator to be well versed in the subject matter and very credible; the design provided practical and valuable information to our team of managers. I highly recommend LSA Global, particularly in the area of management training.

Julaine K. Souza
Senior Vice President

In my years working with LSA, it seems like I’ve had a personal consultant at my fingertips to help me identify just the right solution to satisfy our needs. The entire LSA team has become a trusted friend of Actel — assuring we provide state-of-the-art learning to meet our complex, high-tech business and people needs.

Linda Mitchell
Training Manager

We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

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