By Subbu Viswanathan, CEO of Disprz, an enterprise skills acceleration platform, 3-time tech entrepreneur, former McKinsey consultant, ITT and ISB alumni.
Conducting corporate learning with a generic approach often fails to capture the learner’s interest. One of the best ways to motivate employee learning is by embracing personalization. A personalized learning approach gives dedicated attention to employees’ personal growth to ensure development and career advancement.
Recent research found that “93% of high-performing organizations agreed personalized learning supports an employee in reaching professional goals more efficiently.” Before we see how to develop a personalized learning strategy, let’s get to the basics and understand what this learning and development (L&D) technique really is.
What Is Personalized Learning?
Personalized learning is an employee-centric L&D approach that tailors training to an individual’s job role, needs and interests. This smart L&D strategy aligns skilling with a learner’s skill gaps and career path.
In a world where everything from e-commerce platforms to movie streaming apps is personalized, providing the same “just for me” experience is pivotal to grabbing employees’ attention. Making personalized learning a part of your L&D strategy can be very beneficial for your organization. Those potential benefits include:
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1. Boosting employee engagement
2. Improving knowledge retention
3. Maintaining a competitive edge
4. Boosting career development
5. Increasing employee retention
5 Steps To Develop A Personalized Learning Experience
Many companies, like Netflix and Amazon, have tapped into personalization to enhance user experience. But how can L&D leaders like you implement personalization for employee learning? Here are five steps to develop a personalized learning strategy for your organization.
1. Set Learning And Business Goals
Before you commence your personalized learning journey, it is crucial to set learning and business goals that act as a benchmark to measure progress. You must be clear about what you want to achieve for a department/role before investing time and effort in creating their personalized learning journey.
To effectively set goals, work with the business heads to understand the objectives for each department and coordinate with the team leads to establish goals for each individual. For instance, a business aims to achieve a 30% increase in revenue in the next year. To link this goal with the teams, you want to set business goals for each department and learning goals for each individual within that department. This can ensure personalized learning efforts are aligned with business outcomes.
2. Create A Skill Inventory
One of the most crucial steps of personalization in learning and development is to bridge the individual skill gaps and improve employee performance. That’s why it is imperative to have a skill inventory that defines the skills needed for each role in your organization. This can give you a bird’s eye view into what skills matter for different roles in your organization.
Here are a few steps to building a skill inventory.
• Based on industry standards, list the skills for every role.
• While creating the list, consider your business objectives, variety of projects and key areas of the specific role.
• Categorize them into technical, functional and leadership skills.
• Use a number scale to grade every skill level. For example:
2. Advanced Beginner
• Manually perform the skill research, or leverage advanced learning technology, like a Learning Experience Platform (disclosure: my company offers this product), that can assist you in identifying and benchmarking skills for each role.
3. Assess Employee Skill Gaps
Assess each employee’s skill level using your previously created skill inventory to detect gaps that are affecting performance. Through self or manager assessment, find out the grade for every skill. This can help you determine which skills are missing and which need to be strengthened. For instance, a bank associate could be graded three on a one-to-five scale for account management skills.
Once you have a grade for every role, connect with the team lead and guide them to have a one-to-one conversation with the employees to give them a visual representation of both the existing capabilities with the skill score and the details of the required skills.
Encourage the team lead to collect information about the employee’s needs, aspirations and goals they want to achieve. This data can help you in mapping out a personalized learning journey that can be embedded into the employee’s flow of work.
4. Tap Managers In The Learning Process
Managers have a wealth of information about their teams. This makes them an often-untapped resource for developing personalized learning journeys. It is important to gain the cooperation and participation of the manager to be successful.
As per LinkedIn’s Report, 49% of talent developers globally reported that “getting managers to make learning a priority for their teams” is one of the top challenges they encounter.
Coordinate with managers and bring them into the flow of learning. Take their input on employees’ strengths and weaknesses. With their help, identify the right courses for creating impactful learning programs that employees would willingly complete to enhance their skills. Unlocking employees’ potential and designing personalized journeys that facilitate career progression can be much easier with their help.
5. Identify The Right Technology To Personalize The Learning Experience
To simplify the learning process and make it more accessible and engaging, you can leverage personalized learning technology, like a Learning Experience Platform (LXP). An LXP links skilling and business impact by benchmarking where individuals stand and tracking their skilling progress—allowing you to make real-time amendments to the learning approach.
The market is flooded with many learning technologies. So how do you determine the right tool for your business? Below are the top three features I recommend keeping an eye out for when choosing learning tech:
1. Capable of identifying and benchmarking role-based skills
2. Includes abundant assessments to evaluate current employee readiness
3. Able to auto-generate a personalized pathway
Personalized learning is an engaging experience that allows employees with a growth mindset to enhance their skills. To fulfill this expectation, L&D professionals should develop and implement a personalized learning strategy by setting the right goals, assessing the company skill gaps, creating a skill inventory, incorporating the right technology and ensuring the manager’s buy-in to drive maximum impact. By following these steps, your employees can receive a personalized learning experience that captures their interest and bridges their skill gaps.