Why It Is Critical To Design For The Entire Learning Experience — Not Just The Classroom Experience

Melitta Hardenberg
Feb 15, 2021 · 4 min read

In a COVID world leaders need to remain cool under pressure, cooler than ever before while at the same time there is exponentially more stress. They are more distanced from their teams, yet they’re called on to create greater connection. There is an enormous need for clarity at a time where there’s more uncertainty. People need more from their leaders today at a time where leaders have less to give.

Leaders are being asked to raise the bar and be more things to more people when they have less capacity to give to learning just how to do or be all of that’s required of them. Leaders no longer have time to sit in multi-day, or multi-hour learning programs. They need what they need, at the time they need it. This creates a dilemma for learning professionals. We must think differently. To make learning sticky, usable, and impactful we must design for the entire learning experience, not just the classroom experience. And that means be clear on what’s critical. Build learning so behaviours can be applied one at a time, over time, and build a system that reinforces learning in the flow of work.

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

Script the critical moves

So when you say ‘aim strengths at performance’ that means:

  • Know the strengths of your team
  • Notice them in action
  • Nudge them towards performance.

Critical moves. Three of them. And that’s how you get there.

Space the learning

To use the example of coaching, consider breaking down the key modules or behaviours required (the critical moves) allowing learners to apply one learning at a time, over time. You’ll see in this example there are three opportunities to practice what is often the most challenging skill — listening deeply.

One learning at a time. Over time. Make it simple, clear & easy to apply.

Build the system

Photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

The question should be how can you build learning into the flow of work? How can you create the social system, the technology or the environmental system that makes it easy to apply?

As one simple example, change your structure of learners. Move from mixed cohorts to intact teams. You instantly create the social system to support learning application. When users go back to their day jobs, they have the social capital and support to experiment with the learning.

Consider technology, how can apps or websites support the learning experience. Keep the same example going with a strengths program. At SEEK we built ‘learning plays’ designed for leaders to access learning where the work happens. If leaders need to change or lift their current conversations, we’ve built ‘plays’ they can find for the specific conversations they need to have e.g. how to nudge strengths towards performance using feedback, or in performance conversation, or weekly check ins.

Plays. Designed for application. Built into the system. Where the work happens.

The impact? In one example we ran a coaching program over 9 months. Every six weeks the leaders would come back to extend and refine their skills for nine straight months. The results? We started with just 53% of our people being coached regularly and moved the dial to 91%. Want to know how we went with strengths? Stay tuned, it’s early days but the indicators are looking good!

What’s your experience? I’d love to know what you’re experimenting with?

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Melitta Hardenberg

Written by

I head up the Learning & Development function at SEEK. I’m also a mother of two fearless & funny little humans & I love nerding out on all things humans at work

SEEK blog

At SEEK we’ve created a community of valued, talented, diverse individuals that really know their stuff. Enjoy our Product & Technology insights…