Last week, I had the privilege of hosting a Microlearning® strategy session for local L&D practitioners in Dallas. At the event, I interviewed Jayson Maxwell from Six Flags about his success in identifying and deploying a Microlearning® strategy to solve for his company’s compliance and regulatory training needs. We had a full house, nearly 40 professionals representing multiple companies and industries, and were able to identify many practical approaches for making Microlearning® strategies successful.
For those of you who missed the event, here’s an overview of my three-step Microlearning® strategy and the key learnings from our discussion.
A Microlearning® Strategy in 3 Steps
Step 1: Start Small
Every learning strategy begins by spotting behaviors that help or hurt your company’s goals. Jayson from Six Flags desired to overhaul the onboarding experience for new hires, making it more impactful and engaging. He set his sights on compliance training for new hires. His goal was to apply a Microlearning® strategy by whittling down its required portions. To do this, he weeded out presentations that mostly “talked at” the participants and focused only on the compliance areas with the broadest impact.
Step 2: Stay Focused
An effective L&D solution will target the behavior you identified in Step 1. Just be mindful of competing priorities; dividing your focus may weaken the impact of your initiative. Now is not the time to revise the company intranet and update the onboarding curriculum just for the sake of it. Staying focused on his Microlearning® strategy, Jayson shifted the majority of compliance training out of the onboarding flow to online learning. Further, the engagement of park-level trainers and managers was a big part of making this program successful. Sitting closely with employees, these park-level trainers and managers supported the in-action Microlearning® strategy, driving up engagement and connecting the learning to employee Individual Development Plans (IDPs). They saw a 50% return rate for each lesson assigned: half of employees who completed a required lesson would then choose to browse Grovo’s Library and complete additional, unassigned lessons.
Step 3: Make it Stick
Surround new learning with context, application points, and opportunities for transfer. By increasing the stickiness of your learning strategy, you will change employee behavior and promote a learning culture in your organization. Jayson sought to make new training relevant to each employee by identifying the ways it would support their careers, helping them understand their impact, and tying all learning back to the company’s talent development process. Further, the trainers and managers added depth and context to the learning experience because they were right there alongside the employees.
Key learnings from the event
- Keep it real. The modalities you choose to convey your learning strategy should be varied (to generate those positive learning emotions), but should ultimately be authentic to your organizational culture . Some companies prioritize expertly crafted videos, while others may be satisfied with webcam shots that convey a more intimate and personal connection to the topic.
- Build trust with every click. In virtual learning, you have limited options to build trust with your learners. Think of every “click” as a part of a larger trust contract you are building with your learners. Learners click, then determine whether they got what we said they would get. They then choose to click again or, alternatively, stop clicking altogether. The trust contract is a fragile construct in the virtual learning world. Keep it in mind as you build and deploy your Microlearning® strategy.
- Don’t over-architect. As L&D practitioners, we love to craft a great learning solution. But oftentimes that leads to over-architecting – which can cloud the initial intent of training. Remember Step 2 – and stay focused on your initial strategy that targets that single, concrete goal.
- Make the business case early. And often. You should solidify your business case in Step 1. Moving to strategy deployment without validating its connection to business goals and inextricably aligning it to your company’s priorities is a recipe for disaster. Make the case clearly and concisely, then keep making it to rally others to your cause.
- Don’t underestimate compliance. Chances are that despite your industry or company size, one of your primary learning objectives is to develop and implement compliance training. However, as L&D practitioners, we often emphasize the “get it done” portion of compliance training and overlook the possibilities of revamping this critical initiative . Jayson applied a Microlearning® strategy to his company’s compliance needs. He called this the “Stop Talking” approach – and used it as a barometer to determine whether a training should be included or excluded in onboarding. If a training was included only to accommodate someone “talking at new hires for 30 minutes,” he shifted it elsewhere. By starting with compliance, he was able to win over employees quickly by surprising them with well-crafted content that would naturally encourage curiosity to check out other learning in the Grovo library.