Develop your employees without paying for training
Founder at The Innovative Crowd
Small companies have employees that require development to become more effective at what they do. However, with limited budgets and operational pressures creates difficulties in sending employees on training courses. I believe this provides an opportunity for small organisations to re-imagine what can be done to develop employees. There are so many options that create tangible results that do not require big budgets or time away from the workplace. There is an opportunity to create opportunities to learn and develop that are specific to your organisation. This can help you avoid buying off the shelf, generic solutions that may not deliver the exact skills or behaviour you are looking for. Here are 5 ideas for developing your employees that require little time or money. I have included some ideas about things to consider that will support their effectiveness and impact. These do not require you to be a learning professional, or to spend hours designing and writing. The criteria used for selecting these are: • Easy to implement • Low Financial cost • Little time away from work • Learning and developing skills relevant to work Elvin Turner, in his book ‘Be Less Zombie’, describes experiments as the rocket fuel of innovation and, let’s be honest, which organisation doesn’t want more innovation at the moment. These allow you and your teams to explore innovative ideas in a way that reduces risk, and again, who doesn’t want to reduce risk Here is how to do it. Every quarter identify one of the biggest challenges or opportunities for your business. It is a good idea to phrase this as a how might we question. Here is a link to a blog to explain how to do that. https://www.theinnovatecrowd.com/blog/tips-on-how-to-frame-a-powerful-how-might-we-question Invite team members to think of ways of answering the ‘How Might We…?’ question. Encourage them to be as creative as possible Then one month after posting the question, ask employees to present their ideas as pitches. Use the Dragon’s Den format for this If the panel like an idea, they can then use a small amount of money to test some of the assumptions the idea is built upon This investment is given to the person whose idea it was to enable them to run an experiment to test their assumptions. To meet the criteria of an experiment it should be: • Small • Cheap • Fast • Designed for learning These experiments ensure that assumptions are tested on innovative ideas at every stage of development. This provides confidence in the potential success of the idea, before investing heavily in it. It also provides information that can create clarity on actions or directions that will not be beneficial to the organisation. This provides the following to you and your employees • Better understanding of the business • Develops leadership and project management skills • De-risks innovation • Helps share knowledge across your business • Encourages collaboration Environmental considerations • Be open to new ideas • Be supportive with the experiments – allow them in work time • Reward and recognise the learning and not the success of the experiment • Help with presentation and pitching skills • Help design experiments and measurements
Work Based Projects and Peer to Peer Feedback Sessions
Work-based projects allows teams, or induvial to work on something outside of their normal work that is important to the business. Projects are ongoing within organisations on a regular basis, and are great opportunities for employees to practice the skills/behaviours identified. These projects can be existing ones, or they can be created to specifically support application of skills/behaviour from a programme, such as a leadership programme. The use of projects can provide an opportunity to review and provide feedback for individuals in a safe space. It enables the examination of company policy and processes and build stronger relationships. What this does for you and your employees • Practice skills in a real environment, not a sterile classroom • Help provide opportunities for in the moment feedback • Provides development and tangible business outcomes • Provides the opportunity to test organisations processes and procedures • Develops deeper understanding of the organisation • Encourages collaboration • Develops leadership skills Environmental considerations • Allowing employees to be involved in projects • Clarity on scope of projects and available resources • Agree outcomes and metrics • Ongoing support and feedback during the project The power of feedback has been well documented, and is an integral aspect of performance management and coaching. However, I would suggest that most of the interactions and observations of our work are with our peers. Peer to peer feedback helps people to develop using feedback from the people they work with the most. It can help create a common understanding of behaviours that the business would like to see. Such as how to deal with customers etc. It provides valid opportunities to identify examples of excellence and areas of improvement on areas sometimes considered difficult to measure. The subject of the feedback can be determined in advance. Such as concentrating on one area a month. This then enables the business the ability to develop positive behaviours in line with desirable business outcomes. How this helps you and your employees • Better relationships • Better recognition of behaviours • Better teamwork • Encouraging specific behaviours across your business simultaneously • Support delivery of behavioural change in the workplace Some environmental considerations • Provide space for the feedback • Support development of feedback skills • Support with guidelines and templates for providing and receiving feedback • Agree metrics and link to recognition and reward
Skills based video channel
Employees want to be able to do what they need when they need it, lack of specific and often little pieces of information can create unnecessary delays. An example may be needing to create a pivot table in Excel. Normally this may require an employee to find someone who knows how to do this and then ask them to show them. This is time consuming and an inefficient method of knowledge sharing. You can create a video channel of the key skills that are often used within your business. These should be short explainer videos. There are tools available to create screen share videos etc. You could canvas your employees to find out who has the skills and ask them to create the videos. This is also a great way to find out about unknown skills that your employees have. This may provide you with opportunities you otherwise would not have been aware of. These videos should be catalogued in a way that allows them to be searchable. This will provide employees with a searchable and accessible resource of skills and information, which they can easily use at the point of need. The content could also be highlighted to groups in their employee life cycle as it may become useful. Such as stock taking just before year end. Some advantages of this L&D activity • Quick access to skills when needed, improving efficiency • Reduce potential delays, improve productivity • Increase motivation and value for those employees selected to provide content • Flexible content that is adaptable to organisational needs • Reduce dependence on training courses, saving time and finances • Reduce time away from work of subject matter experts Environmental issues • Access to appropriate server to host videos and allow organisation-wide access • Review reward and recognition for those submitting content • Provide feedback for content generation • Support of leadership in creating content • Ensure compliance with appropriate copywrite and licensing requirements • Communication of resource
Micro Learning Activities and Overview
Micro learning is all around us and used in everyday life; allowing employees to consume information and learning quickly and effectively. Micro learning is about delivering content when required in a way that is easy to use, and takes little time. These can be scheduled and used as stand-alone actions, or can be used to support other programmes or initiatives. In the ‘Influence to Innovate’ coaching programme we provide individual and group micro learning activities. One example is called ‘Lip Sync’ which was designed to help develop better listening skills. This can be completed as an induvial, or as while team/group. There is a link to this activity, so you can play it on your own, or with your team. It will provide an idea of what micro-learning can look like and achieve. As an example, you can see that this activity can be briefed quickly and the playing of the activity happens within the normal working day. It does not impact on the operations of the organisation and can be completed across specific teams or the whole organisation at the same time. The use of micro learning can help develop learning at speed and scale. How this can help you and your employees • Required skills or behaviours can be develop business wide at the same time • These can be completed within normal work requirements • Develop behaviours in real work environment • Can support long term learning programmes • Improve relationships within organisations • Can embed values at scale and speed Environmental considerations • Support in playing the game • Support to encourage reflection on the day’s play • Facilitating healthy discussions within teams • Link required behaviours to performance management, reward and recognition • Access to activities • Enabling all employees to participate • Management get involved as well Overview This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other ways of helping employees learn and develop. Learning is far more than attending training courses. Creating these opportunities can provide huge benefit to you, your business and your employees. Hopefully these ideas have given you some food for thought, enabling you to implement some of these quickly and easily into your organisation. You may now have some of your own ideas on things to do. The key point to think about, is be clear about what you would like people to be doing differently, and then think about providing the opportunity for them to achieve this. And what support would be required to help them. If you would like to chat about developing learning opportunities within your business feel free to reach out.
Here are some great The Innovative Crowd case studies
Changing the perception of learning
Our mission is to change the perception of learning by supporting L&D professionals to be more influential in their organisations so they can create innovative solutions that add value.