Don’t tell me when to learn
One of my first jobs was in the deli section in a supermarket. I still remember how excited I was to walk in on that first day to be handed a little paper hat that would eventually become the source of many jokes from my mates for years to come. My first few days were typical for many entering a new business; classroom “training”, forms to fill out and and a middle aged woman telling me how lucky I was to be a part of it. The thing was, after a few days I realised that I knew more about the pattern on the carpeted floor of the training room or the hobbies of my potential girlfriend on the cashier at aisle four than I did about the ideas I was meant to have understood. Perhaps more frightening than that, I had completely missed the stuff I needed to know to stay safe and to be effective in my new role. I wasn’t concentrating. I was distracted. It was my fault, but the result was their problem. In a few short weeks I proved to be pretty good in that little paper hat, but I learned as I was ready.
I’m not incapable of learning, I’m just incapable of learning effectively when your timing doesn’t match my timing. I’ll tell you when I’m ready to learn. Without being able to put it into words, I was telling them that I live in an on demand world.
Fast forward a few years on and ‘on demand’ has become a widely used term that we have all become accustomed to. We have movies and TV ‘on demand’ with Netflix, transport ‘on demand’ with Uber, Airbnb, Airtasker, the list goes on. If we want to know something, we have Google, YouTube, Twitter or “there’s an app for that”. The point is, when we want something, we can get it: and when we don’t want something, we don’t need you to give it to us.
Let’s look at three ways to meet our employees in this on demand world
Meet them Online
In a world where we have access to content wherever, whenever; provide training that they can get wherever, whenever. Let them sit on the couch and flick between Instagram and fire safety training. Trust me, they can do it. Don’t get me wrong, we still need to make our people accountable for their progress with deadlines, performance monitoring and face to face learning opportunities but give them the chance to take charge of their own learning pace and timing.
Meet them in 720p
Use video and don’t make it any good. We consume content through video more than ever before and a growing percentage of it is filmed from a webcam or phone. We have moved towards a distrust of “produced” video and engage more readily with the bearded guy in the shed showing us how to build a chair. This is great news for businesses. All we need is a phone and a Vimeo account and we can create engaging and effective training resources that our employees can consume over and over again when they need it.
Meet them on the Phone
According to Adobe Digital Index, the share of digital videos viewed on a smartphone is up 33% year on year and growing. Australians use smartphones for news more than any other nation according to a study at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. Make sure your people can access your learning resources from the same place they get their news education. If their phone is always with them, so is their opportunity to engage with your training.
I’ll put on my little paper hat and come to work. I’ll even enjoy it. But don’t tell me when to learn.