Characteristics of an Effective Learning Program
For an organization to succeed, it must attract highly qualified talent. For an organization to flourish, however, it must retain and develop its high-performing employees. One highly effective method to do so is to provide professional development opportunities for employees to continue acquiring knowledge and learning new skills.
However, for an employee’s continuous learning journey to be effective, his or her professional development should be monitored, guided, and evaluated. One of the most effective ways to do so is to develop an individualized and intentionally constructed learning program specific to the organization’s and team’s requirements and the individual employee’s competencies. While the benefits of a learning program are immense, building one from the ground up requires a significant investment of up-front time and long-term commitment.
The following are some of the shared characteristics of the most effective learning programs:
- Governed – An effective learning program should be monitored by a governing body to ensure that the program addresses the organization’s current and evolving needs. These needs vary in breadth and can include updating curricula and content, instructor management, facilities management, delivery systems, and overall program architecture, as well as preparing the learning program to meet the future and long-term needs of the organization.
- Data-Driven – The best learning programs are informed by data analysis to understand the gap between the existing and optimal levels of knowledge of the prospective participants, learning priorities, and organizational objectives. These data should address both qualitative and quantitative measurements.
- Goal-Oriented – Whether the learning program’s individual elements are directly tied to certification requirements, or other defined objectives, an effective program includes milestones intentionally developed to meet the organizations’ and participants’ goals over time.
- Collaborative – Combining the input of multiple stakeholders — managers, supervisors, employees, subject matter experts, HR professionals, and executives — during curriculum development and design and maintenance helps ensure the learning program delivers a holistic solution.
- Piloted – When releasing any program to a large group of people, it is prudent to run a pilot for a segment of the group to verify the program’s effectiveness and troubleshoot any issues uncovered.
- Evaluated – Once a learning program is up and running, it should be evaluated regularly — by participants, instructors, and leaders — to verify that it continues to meet the organization’s needs.
- Agile – A solid learning program should also be ready to rapidly respond to the changing needs of its audience as well as the larger world in which it exists. There will undoubtedly be changes in technology, legislation, and new priorities that will directly impact the organization’s learning program, necessitating further development. As we understand all too well, unforeseen circumstances can trigger an urgent need to deliver instruction in a new location or format to address new subject matter.
- Evolving – It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when no one had a smartphone. We relied on landlines, phone booths, answering machines, and just stopping by to communicate. While we have seen this evolution of technology impact our lives profoundly, we can be sure that there will be much more innovation to come. Our learning programs must evolve as well if they are to be effective.
- Marketed – To get the most value from a learning program, people need to know what is available to them, how to utilize it, and the specific benefits it offers. It is not enough to build a solid program; its support must include clear communication and often change-management support.
Management Concepts has spent nearly 50 years delivering effective learning programs for federal government employees that exhibit these characteristics. In addition to exceptional training courses, certifications, and human capital advisory services, we have also been very successful at helping federal programs like the National Veterans’ Training Institute (NVTI) realize their dreams of developing an effective learning program.
If you are exploring the possibility of developing a learning program and would like to know more about our approach, please visit our website or call us at 888.545.8571.
Natalie Komitsky is the Content Marketing Manager at Management Concepts. For more than ten years, she has been creating compelling content that tells stories, communicates ideas, and captivates readers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Nonfiction Writing, and Editing from George Mason University.