Podcast | How To Turn Your Big L&D Challenges Into Wins

Gary Stringer
May 1, 2024
May 1, 2024

The organisational impact is in the big, scary L&D challenges you’ve been putting off!

Take skills. We do it manually right now and it means it’s too hard - we can’t map and measure them at the speed or scale required.

So we find an easier challenge to solve, to show we solved it. But to have true impact, we need to take on the hardest challenges.

From using AI to mapping skills, and engaging learners to centralising information, learn how in this conversation with HowNow CEO, Nelson Sivalingam.

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0:00 Why we need to tackle the big challenges
6:50 The Engagement Gap
13:59 Mapping and measuring skills
17:26 AI for the long term
27:59 Centralising learning
39:06 AI for L&D
42:11 Demonstrating impact
50:49 Tackling Incomplete data

1. The big, scary L&D challenges often have the most impact

There are still some big, strategic challenges that stop us having impact on our organisations!

And the answer isn’t to get caught up in trends, buzzwords and shiny new tech…

“How can we get an understanding of the skills we have and don't have in our workforce? And how can we do that at the speed at which business and industries are changing? 

“That's a really difficult challenge to solve! And so I think it's trying to bring our attention to let's not do what's easy to do. 

“Let's actually push ourselves out of our comfort zone to look at what are those challenges that are stopping us from having meaningful impact. And let's see where we can use these shiny new things to solve those.”

2. We need to close The Engagement Gap 

We can put out all the great learning initiatives we want, but if people aren’t engaging, none of the other good stuff we want to happen, will happen.

Behaviour change, skill development, performance improvement - it can’t happen without engagement.

And that doesn’t mean it will automatically happen if people are engaging, because they might engage with experiences that aren’t the right fit to achieve these things.

“But engagement is 100% the primary requirement in order to be able to even have a chance  at driving those desired outcomes.”

And the key reason for that Engagement Gap is the focus on content and creating content, over skills and building skills.

So if we start with problems people want to solve and skills they want to build, we’ll build contextual content that drives skills and performance.

“Fundamentally, we're pushing out the wrong learning to the wrong people at the wrong time and therefore we're getting the wrong results. And this often happens because of a very content-heavy focus.”

“But we're ignoring the context in which employees exist, right? What's the overall business strategy? What are the skills they need in order to be able to do their job better? Have you marketed the problem that your solution is trying to solve?”

Every time we roll out campaigns without engagement, we waste time and resources.

And every time we scale things without the context of skills and performance, we raise the risk of scaling things that don’t work.

3. Map and measure your skills, so you can close skills gaps

Organisations want skills, not content, and for us to deliver value, we need to start looking at what we're doing from the lens of skills.

Nelson recommends breaking this process into three buckets.

  1. Understand our workforce from the lens of what skills they need to have.
  2. Do we know what skills they have? What are their strengths and where are the gaps?
  3. Do we have the learning resources to be able to bridge those gaps? 

The trouble is, this is such a manual process for L&D teams right now, that they can’t do it at the speed and scale required.

From working out the skills needed and current proficiency, to keeping it up-to-date and on top of emerging skills - too much manual input is required.

Nelson shared so much great advice on overcoming this, it’s worth watching this six-minute video:

4. “We're underusing the potential of AI… for quite short term gains.”

“Right now, we're using it to Create content faster because it gives us that gratification - we've done something. We're doing it to automate routine tasks. But are we using it in a way where it's going to have that long term benefit?”

Like skills mapping. This typically takes organisations nine to 12 months, and involves a lot of manual effort.

Speaking to managers, working out the skills needed for a role, building a skills taxonomy, measuring proficiency and trying to keep it updated - all for it to end up in a spreadsheet where it goes to die.

“This is where we used HowNow AI to essentially solve that big challenge. Looking at real-time job market data, and then inferring, what are the skills required and what are the proficiency levels required for someone to be able to do that task and responsibility?

“We can also then contextualise that based on the jobs that exist within your organisation, plugging into your HR system, and then combine organisational context with job market macro data to come up with A, a skills taxonomy, and our skills taxonomy has just over 40,000 skills.”

And if you want to learn how HowNow AI helps you measure your skills and generate pathways to close them, check it out here.

5. Creating a single point of access for learning is a HUGE quick win

Let’s be honest, we’re spoiled outside of work. We have access to great consumer products that remove friction and get us what we need super fast.

When we want something, any amount of friction is inconvenient!

“Now you apply that at work where we're already saying we think we're busy, time poor and trying to manage a lot of things. And then you add to that any amount of friction to find the knowledge or learning that I need, I'm always going to choose the path of least resistance.

“And so if it's too difficult for me to find internally, I'm just going to go to Google because it’s easier. 

“Now, that's not a problem for the employee, but it's a problem for the organisation because they’ve probably spent a lot of time and money building or buying learning resources and capturing internal knowledge, but they’ve done a such a bad job of bringing it together that there's low engagement and ROI for those things.”

And it's not about everything having to live on one platform, it’s about creating a single front door to accessing all of your learning, knowledge and skills.

That’s where integrating your learning space with the tools you use everyday really comes into play.

“One of our biggest customers has about 25 different content libraries across the organisation. So get the best provider for everything you need, get the best tool, but you want to have a single point of access. That's the key. 

“The tools don't have to be all a part of the same provider, but the front door needs to be the same. What that allows you to do, it allows you to change the content sources in the background without changing the discovery experience for the employee.”

6. Want to show impact? Measure metrics aligned to your business!

“You achieve what you measure, And it’s a problem if you're measuring a metric that is not aligned to business impact…

“When your go to market function shouts about the net new revenue they've made. Everyone in the business gets that! They're all like, yeah, we made more revenue, we’re happy about that.

“But if you went and shouted to the business that we got 70% course completion rate, don't expect to get a high five from any other function because it's not had a business impact.”

So let's start measuring the things that indicate impact! What does the business care about, and how can we use learning as a vehicle to build those skills and drive that performance?