The coffee smells fresh and it is hot. It has just a spoon of milk and the flavour is sensational. It is just the way you like it but… you cannot drink it because of the e-mail you have just received from your manager. Out of the blue, he’s asked you for a 121 meeting about the training you’re about to go and as preparations, he asked you to answer these questions: “What do you want to learn or improve after participating in this development program?” Your reply, containing key words like “learning new things, improve my abilities… better performance… “made your boss calling you immediately: Can you be more specific? And after that, his questions continued to punch into your defense: how would you evaluate your performance? What is your best developed ability? The second best? What about the least developed one? Considering your job, what is the key ability that you need the most? And when is critical to apply this ability or skill? If you would improve that specific skill with 50% and apply it in those specific moments, what is the impact over your performance? Please think about these questions and get back to me with an answer. ASAP.
The coffee is getting colder… and the idea of having a face-to-face conversation based on these questions is not very appealing, so you open the e-mail with the invitation and this time you really read the agenda for the first time. You are familiar with the subjects: setting objectives, time management, feedback, motivating people, managing performance, team routines… it is clear: you are invited to a Management Academy. But this time, instead of 3-4 days of training, the program is 8 weeks long, with a 2 hours online workshop every week. For each workshop, you have to read in advance the theory and solve some problems, that require more than copy/paste actions. You estimate the time – reading a one-page material, watching two 5 minutes long videos and answering 5 questions… sounds like 30 minutes work. Maybe 40 minutes, an hour maximum, but no more than that. And there is something new: you’ll have to work on your own or with other colleagues to solve some of the missions. There are other promises such as practical work on case studies, continuous feedback, coaching sessions and peer evaluation sessions… using an online platform. And in the end, they ask you enroll in something that they call it – High Performance Learning Journey.
I have been telling you for too long about the miracle called HPLJ and how people’s abilities and performance goes skyrocketing after attending such a program. I even called Columbus ( The Learning Journey) to testify how important is the (learning) journey versus the objective, so today I will provide an example, based on our practical experience. It is a Management Academy program, developed and delivered for one of our customers. One last mention before I give you the details: the learning journey looks completely different depending on the perspective: trainee or business owner, so I will cover both.
Here is the context: remember when you had to work from home, due to March – June isolation? Our customer is relevant in the beauty industry but selling shampoo and skin care products during lockdown was not a necessity, so the business was shrinking. A lot. Turnover, profitability, market share… all of 2020’s objectives were in jeopardy. After the needs assessment, our customer agreed that a change of focus at management level, becoming better people managers, would be a good solution – so we developed a Management Academy. The participants had 2-10 years of experience in management and for many of them, it wasn’t the first program of this kind. Due to poor business results, the engagement level was low, and that’s why, the first step was to take top management onboard, in order to motivate people. They had to evaluate participants’ managerial skills and then to invite them to a 121 discussion over the objectives for this program. Some of them chose to challenge their people – like in the beginning of the article, others chose to provide a higher level of support. All in all, every participant had this initial discussion with his / her manager.
This is usually how an HPLJ starts from a participant’s point of view: an invitation to create an account on the PROMOTE platform and a meeting with his manager. Having his manager involved in the development process it is the most important factor in motivating a participant. Also, setting clear expectations from the very beginning removes a lot of barriers concerning time, or applicability, later in the development process. Remember, we call this part “commit to the journey” (The Learning Journey). What about the business owner perspective? The program, regardless on the topic, has to be business relevant. That’s why we established a clear line connection between what participants learn and business outcome by answering these questions:
Business linkage – what are the strategic goals that this program is aiming for?
- Achieving 2020’s initial business turnover and profit objectives
- Creating a high-performance oriented work environment/culture
- Becoming the first choice in the beauty industry for customers and re-sellers
Performance outcomes – what are the KPI that measure the impact of this program?
- Improve the performance management process focusing on people development
- Increased motivation level for managers
- Increased employee’s engagement
- Reducing employee’s turnover
- Increased performance for the team and individual employees
- Moments that matter – when is critical to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in training?
- Setting team’s and employee’s objectives on yearly/quarterly/monthly basis
- “Selling” the objectives to the team’s members
- Creating a trust-based relationship among team and employees
- Creating a performance-oriented environment by transforming conflicts into debates
- Planning and prioritizing decisions
- Building team short- and long-term strategies
- Motivating and developing people using feedback, coaching, mentoring
- Evaluating performance using a standardized and objective approach
- Creating a career path for every employee
- Creating a succession plan
Learning outcomes – what are the key knowledge or skills that participants will acquire?
- Manager’s role
- Objective’s setting
- Time management: prioritizing and decision making
- Task management
- Conflict management
- Motivating people
- Developing people: delegating managerial tasks
- Performance management
- Talent management
This is exactly how the Performance Path (The learning journey) looked for our customer, with all its details. At this point the two perspectives, manager and trainee are put together so we are about to begin the learning journey. What about the results? While the theory states that an HPLJ program will improve abilities up to 60%, what were the results for our customer?
- During the program, it was the first month since the pandemic, when the sales team reached their objectives both for turnover and profitability.
- 4 months later, the company extended its business in two more countries, as planned for 2020.
- We continued the development process with consultancy on performance management
- We continued the development process with a sales program, designed for salespeople
What about the participant’s perspective? What is the difference with an HPLJ? Can we, as providers of development to maintain the engagement level throughout the entire program? Yes, we can. Can the participants manage the business and time pressure for two months? Yes, they can. More than 2/3 of the managers voluntarily enrolled in the sales program providing feedback and motivating the participants. Half of participants were open to coaching and 8/14 people enrolled in new learning journeys for the next 5 months. Just think about that: employees working and learning on a daily basis for 7 months in a row.
In our previous articles, we highlighted the necessity of business transformation and as a consequence the necessity of reskilling people (Whim or necessity). Our goal is to change the paradigm for people development: from 2 days of intensive training to continuous learning journeys throughout the year. Is it possible? Just read one of the feedbacks that we received for this program, from a participant: “The information from the Management Academy wasn’t new for me, but the approach changed everything. I didn’t feel that I was in school listening to what the teacher said. I was the business owner and I had to identify both the problems and the solutions. Before getting the right answer, I tried and failed several times, without being ashamed because it was a safe and supportive environment created both by trainers and my colleagues. I found out a lot about my colleagues and I can say that we are a team now!”
It is natural to ask for more details, so we’re open to dialogue and to think how your business would improve with learning journeys for your people. Just give us a call or reply to our message. Until then, stay tuned for the next article in the HPLJ series. We will go deeper in the trainee’s perspective, and zoom in on a specific topic, demonstrating how we engage people and produce results.
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