Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Enterprises seeking to add the human factor back to training

One of the things that has been coming out of some recent customer conversations I've been a part of is how to leverage employees' "tribal knowledge." This is a fancy way of describing their experience and history at the organization. How can we share that with new, younger employees?

For example, I was talking to a customer who has been told explicitly by the younger crowd that they often learn more from their older, more experienced colleagues through live classroom training sessions, compared to taking e-learning courses by themselves.

They're finding in-person teaching is a more effective way to share, gain, and retain knowledge than the individualized, more "self-taught" approaches that you get from e-learning programs.

Our customer's concern is that the industry's transition to solo e-learning-style training will hamper knowledge transfer overall. Some of the risks they see include resistance to change; elimination of most of the social contact and interactions; lack of direct mentoring, coaching, and leadership; and increased sense of remoteness and disconnect.

About 10 years ago, we saw the pendulum swing from a focus on classroom-based instruction, to a focus on e-learning-based instruction. This removed live, human interaction (or human factor, as we've referred to it on our blog). Now customers are asking us how they can get that back.

Meanwhile, they have tightly managed travel and venue budgets, and/or their training facilities have been recently shut down or turned into cubicle farms.

It's clear that trainers are seeking to put the human factor back into training and add socialization to the classroom, while putting a lid on travel costs. Effective knowledge transfer and knowledge retention simply can't happen without the human element.

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