I don’t believe in eLearnings*.
This might come as a surprise to most, considering my job title is eLearning Specialist.
Doesn’t that mean I spend my days making eLearnings?
Well, yes, I do.
But I also spend a large part of my job talking people out of eLearnings too.
While I think eLearning can be helpful in presenting initial content, I do not think it’s where a lot of learning actually takes place.
For eLearning to be successful, there has to be something else. I believe there either there has to be some sort of group discussion or coaching to reinforce the concepts, and an action item for the end user. That’s when the true learning takes place, when you give someone an opportunity to apply concepts.
I also believe eLearning doesn’t work because of two other key components:
1.) People are sick of staring at their devices for learning. Yesterday people craved just in time training that could be done anywhere, anytime, and thus eLearning was born. But, today people are craving connection like never before.
2.) By nature, eLearning is on a device that makes it really easy to get distracted. Sitting right there with your eLearning is your email, your social media, your Slack, your work projects...etc. It’s hard to stay focused (and motivated) with so much going on around you.
Maybe someone somewhere can make me a believer of eLearnings, but for now, I'll be a believer of blended learning.
*I am defining eLearning here as self-paced/asynchronous “learning events” that take place via electronic media (and are sometimes created with tools like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate).
I have a lot of ideas.
It was recently suggested to me that I should start putting these ideas into a folder.
At first I was annoyed by this comment. Put my ideas away? My ideas are my lifeblood. My ideas are what inspires my work.
But, the more that I think about it, maybe an idea folder isn't a bad idea.
I am realizing that my ideas don't have a lot of impact now. Without those ideas attached to a plan to get them out to the world they might as well not exist. Essentially what I am doing is putting them away by not doing anything with them.
But, the simple act of collecting those ideas into a folder is a good first step in getting them out into the world.
Of course, it is going to take more than stashing my ideas to get them out into the world. I need to take action too, so a couple things I am going to do:
1.) I'll use my ideas as inspiration for posts here.
2.) I'll revisit my ideas when I brainstorm for projects.
If you want to follow along, here are my ideas.
Someone I know just posted an article on LinkedIn titled "Stanford professor: "The workplace is killing people and nobody cares."
The article makes a connection between chronic illnesses, stress, and the workplace. Essentially it says chronic illnesses are caused by stress that are caused by the workplace - particularly by CEOs.
But I beg to differ.
Yes, the stress caused by work can contribute to some real health issues, but this isn't on the CEOs. It's on everyone.
We are stressed out waiting for our bosses to tell us what to do next and equally as bad - how to do it. We need to stop waiting for direction on what to do and instead take the leap to get things done.
We can start with the topic of stress in the workplace. We can stop waiting for our employers to help us feel less stressed and take action ourselves, from right where we are (no quitting or gig starting needed but you might find yourself with those options). Because the act of waiting for your employer to make work less stressful is stressful in itself.
Ask yourself: What can I do at work to feel less stressed? And do it. Insist on not doing the things that stress you out. Encourage your co-workers to do the same. Maybe find an accountability partner. Because once enough people do that, the culture will start to change.
It's not the workplace that's killing people - it's the people choosing to live a life where the workplace dictates how they live it. Take a leap and choose a different path.
The way I've presented myself here, on this blog, is all part of a game.
Businesses and people who are playing the infinite game, a game we play to play, not a game we play to win, are smartest game players.
These people are not in the business of taking shortcuts to make the most profit, but instead taking the long road to serving the community, to contribute to the bigger picture. Profit can be a side effect of that but real gains come from people being impacted positively.
So when I say that I am here to help people live more meaningful lives, it's not because I lack focus. It is because I am extremely focused on what I want to do. So focused that I'm willing to adapt what I do during the daily, weekly, yearly because I'm in it for the long haul.
I am playing the infinite game.
It's a new year so inevitably we're hearing lots of people talk about goal setting so I want to add to the chatter.
One method I've used when goal setting is to develop one big overarching goal, then break it up into smaller goals then break those smaller goals into action items.
When a goal is broken up this way it is much more likely to be achieved. This is because as the smaller action items get checked off you see progress and when you see progress, you keep going. When you build up momentum it is hard to stop.
But what happens when one of your action items doesn't go as planned?
My advice: write down all the reasons it didn't work, then write down another another way, then try it.
Just because one thing didn't work doesn't mean another won't. In fact, finding out what doesn't work might have been just what you needed to find something that does. Don't give up.
After all, we are all just guessing what will work to achieve the larger goal. These are just things we tell ourselves we need to do to reach the goal but I'm certain there's always another way too.
In my last post, I wrote about how one way we can solve for engagement problems in the workplace is to create a culture of learning where managers empower employees to take ownership of their development and employees have the skills and tools to do so.
Let’s unpack that a bit.
How do you create a culture of learning?
Once again, it’s not something that happens overnight. Instead, it’s through micro steps over a period of time.
But it has to start with creating learner-centric trainings.
What are learner-centric trainings?
They are trainings that are built around the learner. Trainings that before being created ask the question: who is this for? and designing the training for that particular audience.
Learner–centric trainings also focus on key objectives tied to business outcomes you want the learner to be able to DO at the end of it, and providing opportunities for them to do it (discussion, assignments, games, etc.), not things that you want the learner to “understand.”
SIDE RANT: Please, not another “At the end of this training you’ll understand…” Because I have news for you: at the end of the training, your learner isn’t going to understand a single thing (other than that they wasted their time listening to a talking head for hours...) unless you give them an opportunity to practice something. Just because you tell someone something doesn’t mean they understand it.
Get your learner involved, they will learn, they will change, and it will be shown in the business outcomes.
Do this enough and your new super fancy way of training will be accepted by others in your organization.
Soon the days of four hour trainings using branded PowerPoint slides plastered with size 12 font will be gone. People start to like trainings and they ask for more, and more, and more!
From there, trainings become not just a way to learn new knowledge but a benefit to your organization, a key piece to your organization’s identity. People begin to seek out learning opportunities on their own and managers encourage it. People can't wait to come to work because they know every day will be a chance to learn something new - to develop themselves. Now that is engagement.
So how do you create a culture of learning?
It starts with you doing good work. Before you open up PowerPoint to create a training, do the good work of identifying your audience and identifying your goals, which for a little while you might have to explain to a few people, but overtime your work will speak for itself.
That’s called trust building.
And that’s how you create a culture of learning.
It’s around 7PM a couple days after Thanksgiving and I am cuddled up on the couch watching Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer with my two-and-a-half year old son. To my left, a fire flickers in the fireplace, courtesy of my husband, and upstairs our 10-month-old son sleeps soundly. My husband returns from walking our dog and the late November chill slips through door. It’s just cold enough that I am thankful for the fire and I reach for the blanket. Ah, comfortable. All is well.
Then I hear it: “Hermey! Aren’t you finished painting that yet?,” yells the boss elf. “There’s a pile up a mile wide behind you,” he continues. “What’s eatin’ ya boy?,” he goes on. “Not happy in my work, I guess,” Hermey, the employee elf says.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know what happens next: Hermey proclaims (and is shamed by the other elves and his boss) that he doesn’t like to make toys, and that he would like to be a dentist. He pulls out his dentistry book, and with great excitement starts listing all the different teeth. Overlooking Hermey’s passion for something besides for toy-making, his boss declares, “You’re an elf and elves make toys! Now get to work!” Just then the break alarm sounds, and the boss elf yells at Hermey, “Not for you! Finish the job or you’re fired!”
Suddenly, I am uncomfortable.
I have watched this Christmas special at least a dozen times in the last year (a product of having a toddler), and this part never fails to catch me off guard.
I often think about how Hermey’s boss is a real jerk.
But it isn’t just the fact that there is a mean boss man in a children’s movie created in the 1960s that makes my skin crawl.
I feel this way because frankly, this isn’t just fiction. This is still reality in the workplace today.
While labor laws minimize (or are supposed to) hostile work environments, like Heremy is experiencing here, there’s a deeply embedded culture in most workplaces that you do what the boss tells you to do or you’re fired.
But that creates a world of unhappy people because they lack purpose in the work that they do, as they constantly wait for the next assignment from their boss. And when there’s no purpose in the work, there’s no motivation to do it well – or to do it at all for that matter. Creativity and problem solving diminishes. Productivity plummets. People quit. And some of the world’s biggest problems go unsolved.
Some say that this sense of obligation to a boss is a result of the industrial revolution. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that this style of management is not serving our work today. Times have changed and they continue to change. In today’s age of technology, we don’t need bosses screaming orders at assembly line workers while dangling paychecks over their heads.
Look, I get it, the hierarchical nature of business isn’t going to change overnight. It took us years to get where we are today, so it’s going to take years to change.
But we can start with small steps today.
One step to creating change is for businesses to start creating cultures of learning where managers empower employees to take ownership of their development and employees have the skills and tools to do so.
This creates more engaged employees and in turn, better work.
Our lives, and the lives of our children, depend on it.