A practical guide to implementing the 5As Framework for making any learning and change intervention in organizations successful.
5As Framework for Increasing Impact of Training Sean Murray interviews Steve Gill about the 5As Framework for achieving business impact from training. This is a 45 minute Webinar with several audience polls and responses to chat room questions from audience.
This is an infographic by Arun Pradhan that explains why and how we need to stop separating learning from work. That might not have been a significant issue in the Industrial Economy, but it is a serious issue in our current Knowledge Economy.
(This post first appeared on this blog on February 11, 2016.)
The most common way in which companies train employees today is basically the same as organizations have been training for the past hundred years (some would say thousands of years). Instructional designers, with input from managers and subject-matter-experts (SMEs) decide what employees should know and then “push” that content at the learners through formal training programs.
That model of training worked adequately in an industrial economy where jobs and equipment changed slowly and executives had relatively low expectations for productivity. Things are quite different now and, therefore, training needs to change. In the new knowledge economy, the pace of change is such that the push model of training can’t keep up with organizational needs and with the way employees learn best.
Now companies need self-directed learners who can “pull” the knowledge and skills required for their jobs, when and where they need it. To be successful today, learners and their managers must work together to ensure that employees acquire the competencies they need to help the organization succeed. They can no longer rely on a centralized training function for this. Managers and their direct reports must rely on each other.
In a learning culture, dependent on pull learning, the parallel roles of managers and learners look like this:
Develop a growth mindset
Develop a growth mindset
Hire for ability & motivation to learn
Be actively learning how to learn
Help learner identify strengths & weaknesses
Identify one’s own strengths & weaknesses
Encourage employee learning
Make it safe to learn
Take risks; learn from risk-taking
Create opportunities for employees to learn individually & in groups
Take advantage of opportunities to learn as individuals & with/from others
Give feedback effectively
Receive feedback effectively
Co-create & co-curate information with learner
Co-create & co-curate information with manager
Convey high expectations for learning
Strive to do best; exceed expectations of manager
Recognize and reward learning
Use recognition and rewards to further one’s learning
The learning relationship starts with a “growth mindset”. Carol Dweck defines this as the belief that people can develop their talent. Without this belief, people will not be motivated to learn and improve. This belief needs to be shared by managers and their direct reports. You need to hire people who have this belief, are motivated to learn and to learn how to learn.
You want employees who make learning part of the way they work. You want employees who are constantly assessing their strengths and weaknesses and seeking out the knowledge and skills that will position themselves to be more successful. You want managers who encourage this and create a psychologically safe environment where employees feel they can be open about their strengths and weaknesses without being criticized, ridiculed, or judged less competent.
You want opportunities for employees to learn, to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills to important work on the job and to do this shortly after learning. Employees can arrange some opportunities for themselves but this requires managers giving permission, making time, and providing the resources to apply that learning.
You want managers to give performance feedback in a helpful and productive way to employees. You want employees to hear and understand that feedback and make use of it to learn and improve their performance. This must be more than an annual performance review. Performance feedback, positive and negative, should be given at every opportunity throughout the year.
Your managers and learners must co-create and co-curate knowledge. The amount of information that is available to employees today is massive. Anything learners want to know is at their fingertips…literally. However, some if it is accurate and useful and some is not. Managers and employees need to work together to make sense of this information, sort out what is accurate and useful, and apply it to their work.
Your managers should have high but realistic expectations for their direct reports. Employees should be clear about these expectations and how these expectations are linked to organizational performance. This gives learners a clear direction and path to performance improvement which motivates learning and application of learning.
Managers should recognize and reward the impact of employee learning on achieving the goals of the organization. This could include public statements about the learner’s success, a promotion, new responsibilities, or special compensation. Whatever it is, learners need to see clearly how their learning resulted in this expression of appreciation.
All industries are undergoing enormous change, mostly due to new technologies, globalization, and a very diverse workforce. For example, in the hospitality industry smartphones put scheduling and reservations at our fingertips, literally. Social media allows restaurants, hotels, airlines, and travel services to market directly to us based on our personal interests. Apps give us car services and meals on-demand – no waiting. These services are competition for established companies and are changing the industry and guest expectations. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and Grubhub are just the beginning. The industry will continue to evolve dramatically.
Any company, faced with these kinds of disruptive forces must keep learning. Employees must learn how to use new computers and new apps, how to operate new, high tech machinery, how to be responsive to customer demands, how to create innovative products and services, how to manage a multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce, how to work effectively in cross-functional teams, and how to plan for a future that is constantly in flux.
The only thing holding companies back from learning at the speed of change is their organizational culture which, for many, is a barrier to learning. Most companies have a training culture, not a learning culture. This emphasis on formal training is a barrier to learning and change. In a training culture, responsibility for employee learning resides with instructors and training managers. In that kind of culture, trainers (under the direction of a CLO) drive learning.
Whereas in a learning culture, responsibility for learning resides with each employee, each team, and each manager. In that kind of culture, employees, with the help of their managers, seek out the knowledge and skills they need, when and where that knowledge and those skills are needed.
In a training culture, most important learning happens in events, such as workshops, courses, elearning programs, and conferences. In a learning culture, learning happens all the time, at events but also on-the-job, facilitated by coaches and mentors, from action-learning, via smartphones and tablets, in social groupings, and from experiments. Learning is just-in-time, on-demand.
In a training culture, the training and development function is centralized. The CLO, or HR, or a training department controls the resources for learning. When new competencies need to be developed, employees and their managers rely on this centralized function. In a learning culture, everyone is responsible for learning. The entire organization is engaged in facilitating and supporting learning, in the workplace and outside the workplace.
In a training culture, departmental units compete with each other for information. Each unit wants to know more and control more than the other units. This competition can result in short-term gains for those units and even for the organization as a whole (e.g., drug development in pharmaceutical companies). In a learning culture, knowledge and skills are shared freely among units. Everyone is working to help everyone else learn from the successes and failures across the organization. This creates a more sustainable and adaptable organization.
In a training culture, the learning and development function is evaluated on the basis of delivery of programs and materials. Typically, what matters to management is the courses that were offered and how many people attended. In a learning culture, what matters is the knowledge and skills acquired and applied in the workplace and impact on achieving the organization’s strategic goals. It’s less about output and more about impact and the difference that learning makes for individuals, teams, and the entire organization.
Managers play a pivotal role in creating and sustaining a learning culture. They do not have to be instructors nor do they have to be expert in the knowledge and skills needed by their direct reports. However, they do have to hold the belief that people can learn and change, what Carol Dweck calls the “growth mindset”. Managers must care about their own learning, and they must value the development of the people they supervise. If they have these beliefs and values, then managers can contribute significantly to learning in their organizations.
In our book, The 5As Framework, Sean Murray and I describe seven steps managers can take to facilitate and support learning of their direct reports:
STEP ONE: Discuss what the learner needs to learn in order to help your business unit achieve its objectives and the organization’s strategic goals.
STEP TWO: Agree on a set of learning objectives for the short-term and long-term.
STEP THREE: Agree on the indicators that will be used to determine progress toward those objectives and achievement of goals.
STEP FOUR: Describe how the learner can get the most out of the learning intervention.
STEP FIVE: Arrange for the learner to get whatever resources he/she needs to apply the learning to your business unit.
STEP SIX: Plan regular meetings (they may be brief) to discuss progress toward objectives and goals and any changes that would help the learner’s progress.
STEP SEVEN: Make modifications in the learning intervention as needed.
Essentially, managers should work with learners to set goals, clarify expectations, provide opportunities for application, and hold them accountable for making a difference. Learning professionals can certainly help managers with this, but managers are in the best position to facilitate the kind of day-to-day learning that is needed in high performance organizations today.
Managers are essential to employee development in our fast changing world. But the culture of the organization as a whole needs to be supportive of learning. Applying traditional notions of education (K-12 or post-secondary) to the workplace will limit the growth and competitiveness of any company. Learning must be woven into the very fabric of the organization.
“We’re no longer asking everybody to do the next thing right; but to do the next right thing.” -Dov Seidman
Ethical behavior in the workplace has never been more important, yet companies continue to act as if a workshop or elearning program during onboarding is all an employee needs in order to behave ethically. That might meet the requirements of a regulatory agency, but don’t expect your employees to learn “…to do the next right thing.” A training event, classroom or virtual, is no way to develop ethical behavior in a workforce.
BP’s oil spill. GM’s faulty ignition switches. Takata’s airbag ruptures. Volkswagen’s emissions fraud. Simplicity’s crib deaths. Samsung’s phone fires. Wells Fargo’s customer deception. In each of these cases, somebody knew about the ethical violations long before lives were affected significantly, but company culture at the time either discouraged those individuals from speaking up or motivated leaders to sell products even with the knowledge that the risk of failure and criminal negligence was high. They chose sales and profit over doing the right thing.
I’m sure all of those companies include ethics in their employee training programs and list ethical behavior among the values in their employee handbooks. The problem is not with training compliance; it’s with the way people learn about ethical behavior and the way that behavior is supported by the culture of their companies.
Companies that make ethics a priority, need to be managing minds, not hands. It’s not about getting the task done; it’s about doing the task with integrity. You don’t learn this in a training program, even a highly interactive and gamified program. This means that managers must become facilitators of that learning. People need to learn ethical behavior in the workplace, with all of its ambiguity, tension, pressures, and consequences. People need to be faced with an ethical dilemma and learn from working through that problem in a real life situation, and receive feedback from their managers during the process.
Doing “the next right thing” is also dependent on having a learning culture that supports development of an ethical employee. This is a culture in which managers have the support of corporate leaders who make ethics not only a marketing tag line but also model this value in everything that they do. If leaders are condoning behavior that crosses the line, whether explicitly stated or not, employees will interpret that as permission to behave badly. If the only measure of success is number and amount of sales at the end of the month, people will do whatever they can, ethical or not, to hit those targets. If employees see their male bosses treating women like second-class citizens, they are likely to do the same. We need managers to show employees that ethical behavior in what they say and do every day is an essential aspect of being a successful, respected, 21rst Century company.
Instead of jumping off the January 1st starting line, we decided to wait and see what other people are predicting for corporate training and learning in 2017. Here’s a partial list from our 2017 Crystal Ball Scorecard:
The New Year will bring a wider adoption of mLearning
All companies will be dong more microlearning
There will be much wider use of xAPI and Learning Records Stores (LRS)
Learning apps will become ubiquitous
Gamification will be for everything and everywhere!
2017 is the year of adaptive more personalized learning
Content curation for learning will lead to better learning
Look out Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) coming up fast
Finally, training will focus on performance and not on smiles
Any of these predictions about technology and trends may come true. We won’t know until we reach the end of 2017. We just believe the prognosticators are doing what they always do -- looking at the future through the wrong end of the telescope.
Before we tried to see into the future, we studied the past. For over 100 years, during the first Industrial Economy, work meant using your hands to produce things. Training and learning were predicated on the need to manage all those hands. Business schools focused their management practices and principles on managing hands. Today, despite the desire some of us have to pile into The Wayback Time Machine, most of us produce work with our minds. We have been transported into the Knowledge Economy so rapidly that many of us are still not sure what happened. Even in the workplaces where hands are still making things, minds are hard at work using the digital technologies to work faster, better, and smarter.
All this means we need to make an abrupt turn and change our whole approach to the way we manage people, training, and learning. We know from experience that change is hard. We tend to grab onto the past and use it to design the future. It’s is a profound failure of imagination. That’s why so many predictions on this year’s list feel so disappointingly similar to last year’s. They are based on a managing hands model that is well beyond its shelf life. It’s just pouring "new wine into an old wine skin".
The future is no longer about looking for continuity with the past and choosing shinier versions of existing technologies and trends. Sometimes there needs to be a disruptive idea that lights up the crystal ball and makes us look at the future in a new way. We believe that future starts with a simple prediction: We will transition training and learning from a managing hands world to one in which we are managing minds. And managers will be at the center.
Managers will think very differently. Training and learning are no longer the primary responsibility of someone else like the L&D Department. The primary role managers will have will be helping people continuously learn, equipping them with the tools and technology they need, empowering them to work together, constantly collaborating, openly communicating and figuring out what they need to know, and know how to do so quickly and effectively. Managing minds is now their responsibility and they will need to rethink and relearn what to do. Managers will need to look for people whose EQ is as high as their IQ. They will need to post on their walls and carry in their wallets what Arie de Geus said when he headed the Royal Dutch Shell’s Strategic Planning Group. “The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”
Employees have their own work cut out in this new economy. They will need to learn to “pull” the information they need from a variety of resources rather than wait around for the information to be “pushed” to them. The artificial and archaic way we separated learning from work will be replaced by the idea that work is learning. If employees are not continuously learning, finding what they need when and where it’s needed, they aren’t improving, creating, innovating, competing, or keeping up with change. In this new managing minds world, they need to be able to rapidly curate the information coming at them from all sides, take risks applying that information to their work, and quickly deciding what is useful. They will need to be able to communicate in every way, reflect on actions and decisions, and learn from everyone’s experience.
The only certainty about the future from here on out is that it won’t resemble the past. We no longer have the luxury of time to define, design, develop, deliver, manage, and measure formal courses. Survival will require people who can navigate a rapidly-changing maze of policies and procedures, products and services at high speed. They need to find their own curriculum and courses, figure out an appropriate way to learn, and get on with it. It’s cliché to say it but employees will have to learn how to learn in this new environment. And management will need to support self-learning, not direct it. We discovered it is already happening in companies around the world, an unknown yet powerful trend.
So our prediction for 2017: The future of learning is managing minds.
For a more in-depth look at what this all means to managers and employees look for our forthcoming book from ATD titled “Managing Minds, Winning Hearts”.
Tom Friedman, in his recent New York Times column titled From Hands to Heads to Hearts, advises us that “the relentless march of technology” is making human-to-human connection in our work more important than ever. Even high tech jobs need what Friedman calls “STEMpathy”, combining knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math with empathy, the ability to understand and have compassion for the experience of others, such as a boss, coworkers, suppliers, business partners, or customers.
Economies get labeled according to the predominant way people create value, pointed out Seidman, also author of the book “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything.” So, the industrial economy, he noted, “was about hired hands. The knowledge economy was about hired heads. The technology revolution is thrusting us into ‘the human economy,’ which will be more about creating value with hired hearts — all the attributes that can’t be programmed into software, like passion, character and collaborative spirit.”
So the question for me is, “What is a manager’s role in the technology revolution? How can they manage people to get the most from their heads and hearts?” In a December 6, 2016 blog post titled “Managing Minds, Winning Hearts”, I wrote:
…workers will have to be smarter, more agile, and more innovative than ever. As automation and robotics improve, the demand for globalization increases, and communities become more diverse, any organization's competitive advantage will be in its collective knowledge and expertise. This means managing minds. The primary role of managers will be helping the people they supervise to become more competent, capable, and engaged in contributing to the success of the organization.
Friedman and Seidman remind us that the heart matters, too. In addition to increasing job competency, we need people who can develop the compassion and empathy and caring to collaborate, cooperate, and communicate with their teams, across their companies, and with partner organizations.
But businesses cannot find and hire all of the sufficiently smart, compassionate people that they need. Managers have to develop these employees. Training programs are not the answer. In the knowledge economy, or, as Friedman calls it, the “human economy”, people need to learn continuously, on the job, in the flow of their work. And they need to be technologically and humanly proficient.
As my co-author David Grebow has said, "The point being that successfully managing minds means being able to get the best from people - their talents, thoughts, creativity, ability and willingness to cooperate and collaborate, trust and more that we can’t anticipate as technology advances. This requires managing hearts as well as minds. In the industrial economy, you could hate your boss and your coworkers and your job and have a low EQ and still crank out work with your hands. Playing well in the sandbox was not a prerequisite. Try that in the knowledge economy, in a company that needs you to be producing with your mind in concert with others with whom you work, and you'll soon be out of a job.”
…the traditional, instructor-led, face-to-face classroom continues to play a crucial role, and it was still the delivery mechanism for 51 percent of learning hours used in 2015.
The percentage would be considerably higher if the ATD study had included all push training, such as elearning programs and attendance at conferences. Which is to say that most learning in organizations is still delivered using formal, structured, leader-centered training methods.
This change requires, in part, engaging managers in helping to facilitate the learning of their direct reports. Managers have a key role to play in employee learning, but it means that managers must shift from “managing hands”, a twentieth century way of being a manager, to “managing minds”, a twenty-first century way of being a manager.
For more about managing minds, look for David Grebow and my forthcoming book to be published by ATD in the Spring of 2017, tentatively titled, Managing Minds, Winning Hearts.
Today, work is more about having a keen mind than it is about having a strong back or skilled hands. This has profound implications for how we manage workers and how we facilitate learning in the workplace.
It no longer makes sense to use formal training as a solution to every performance problem nor to assume that workers will learn everything else they need to know on-the-job from the people around them. Rather, employees need to know how to learn, how to get the knowledge they need when and where they need it, and be accountable for results, not for attending a training program. In a blog post that David Grebow and I wrote for ATD titled, Changing the Way We Manage Learning in the Knowledge Economy, we said:
In the 1920s, the average lifespan of leading U.S. companies was 67 years. By 2013, the average lifespan had dropped to 15 years. The new environment is increasingly aggressive, hypercompetitive, and constantly driven by surprises, innovation and technological changes. And it’s all happening at an unprecedented, increasingly faster pace. We have no choice. We need to stop managing hands and focus on managing minds.
Human hands are being replaced by robotic hands. And managing robots is not a job that requires hands-on managers. This trend towards automation is not stopping. The book, Impact of Emerging Digital Technologies on Leadership in Global Business, reports that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are likely to be automated. This is will change the nature of work in all industries. Robot hands can now thread a needle. As the steel fingers of automation reach even further and grab more of the work once done by human hands, an almost unimaginable future begins to appear.
This future is one in which humans no longer need to make things or fix things or sell things or provide basic services. It is a future in which workers will have to be smarter, more agile, and more innovative than ever. As automation and robotics improve, the demand for globalization increases, and communities become more diverse, any organization's competitive advantage will be in its collective knowledge and expertise. This means managing minds. The primary role of managers will be helping the people they supervise to become more competent, capable, and engaged in contributing to the success of the organization.
We want smart phones, smart cars, and smart refrigerators, but we do not want smart employees. Or, to say it more accurately, our organizations are designed to ensure that smart employees act stupidly. This is what Andre Spicer and Mats Alvesson have concluded from their research on organizations. They write:
For the past two decades, management theorists have been convinced that organisations succeed or fail on the basis of their specialised knowledge. However, our close look at the corporate world showed quite a different picture: many large corporations seemed over-run by stupidity. What’s more, this stupidity is not just the accidental result of a few corporate buffoons. It is often intentionally created. This is much more than taking advantage of the various inbuilt cognitive biases with which behavioural economists are so obsessed. Rather, it involved organisations purposefully creating a kind of collective mindlessness.
What they label “stupidity” is the tendency to follow unproductive rules and regulations without questioning their value, speaking in meaningless jargon to sound smart, and doing whatever everyone else is doing just because everyone else is doing it. In other words, being stupid about one’s work. Companies that Spicer and Alvesson studied, hired smart people but then these people, because of company culture, were discouraged from using their brains.
…whenever human beings are faced with any issue that contains significant embarrassment or threat, they act in ways that bypass, as best they can, the embarrassment or threat. In order for the bypass to work, it must be covered up…Organizational defensive routines are actions or policies that prevent individuals or segments of the organization from experiencing embarrassment or threat. Simultaneously, they prevent people from identifying and getting rid of the causes of the potential embarrassment or threat. Organizational defensive routines are anti-learning, overprotective, and self-sealing. (p. 25)
In the past, maybe a company could survive without employees using what they know, by simply doing what they’re told. This is what David Grebow and I call “managing hands.” However, in this era of rapid technological change, automation, globalization, and a multi-generational workforce, organizations can’t afford a culture that makes organizations stupid. Rather, companies need smart employees who use their collective knowledge to make their companies smarter, encouraging continuous improvement, creativity, and innovation. This is what Grebow and I call "managing minds." In our forthcoming book for the Association for Talent Development (ATD), we explain this shift from "managing hands" to "managing minds."
Every worker learns differently given the task, content, and circumstances. Yet, we continue to try to educate, train, and develop everyone in the same way. Maybe it’s time to turn our workplaces into learning labs. By experimenting with different methods of learning and evaluating the process and outcomes of these methods in the workplace, we might discover what methods are best for which workers under what circumstances.
Michael Noble, in his post for “Chief Learning Officer” titled, How to Build a Learning and Innovation Performance Lab, suggests that learning professionals should start looking for workplace opportunities to try out new ways of learning. Of course, he recognizes the obstacles. He writes:
The biggest challenges may not be cost, time or talent, but corporate preference for transactional rather than consultative support. With some initiative and determination, both leaders and learning practitioners can move from being learning producers/providers to strategic advisors.
Noble argues that the day-to-day activities of an organization provide opportunities for innovation in learning. The workplace can be a lab for experimenting with new methods of learning and performance improvement. The key is to be intentional about learning from these experiences, to be willing to try new methods and to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.
The real trick is creating a business model innovation factory where technologies and capabilities can be remixed in new combinations to deliver value. The imperative is to do R&D for new business models. Not just concepts on a whiteboard or in a consulting deck, but R&D in the real world to explore the viability of a new business model in real market conditions. Not just tweaks of the current business model, but entirely new ways to create, deliver, and capture value. Organizations need a business model innovation factory to explore new business models unconstrained by the current one.
Substitute “learning model” for “business model” and you can see how you can make the workplace a learning lab. Kaplan recommends experimenting with innovation projects separate from the main business activities but close enough organizationally that effective changes can be easily and quickly adopted by the whole business, government agency, nonprofit, or educational institution. We need to do more of this with learning. That is, create experiments in the workplace to try out new ways of learning fast and learning well.