Tech Insights: Balancing Learning Systems vs. Informal Training

Many organizations have sophisticated training departments with complex Learning Management Systems.

I love that, yet I find myself wondering if it matters as much as it used to.

When the typical Millennial wants to learn something, they turn to the web, often YouTube, and see what they can find. The training may not be as good as what the corporate training department provides, but it may be good enough. Even if the LMS offers a ton of e-learning, employees may default to the ultra-familiarity of YouTube to pick up the tips they are looking for.

Differences in formal vs informal training

You have probably already thought of some important differences between scavenged learning and formal corporate training.

For me, two things stand out:

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  • One is that even if your company offers 1,000 courses, it pales in comparison to the tens of millions of learning sources on the web.
  • Secondly, a typical corporate e-learning course might take an hour; in the world of the web people usually spend just a few minutes on a page or video. E-learning is something you schedule into your day, scavenged learning is done on the fly.

Training is not alone in finding the web elbowing into their work.

Recruitment used to rely on a job advertisement to impress candidates. Now candidates glance at the advert then search the web to get the real scoop. Whatever you say about your company in the advert, it will have less credibility than a comment in someone’s blog or a rating on Glassdoor.

What is interesting?

  • Just as bloggers take traffic away from professional journalists, so too amateurs can take traffic away from corporate learning programs.
  • We wanted employees to be self-starting learners, I think many in the younger generation are there.

What is really important?

  • We cannot be blind to how much the foundations to our work can shift. Navigating the shift from classroom to e-learning seemed the big thing; yet maybe the big thing is actually a shift from expensive tailored courses to free scavenged learning. All those skills we learned in writing a great job post will go for naught if the company’s employment brand, as presented on the Internet, is poor.
  • We cannot be defensive about how the Internet is encroaching on our domains. We need to understand the niches where we add value and accept that employee have a choice about where they get learning and insights about the jobs we offer.

David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research, is a globally recognized thinker on people analytics and talent management. Some of his more interesting projects included:

  • Conducted workshops around the world on the practical aspects of people analytics
  • Took business leaders from Japan’s Recruit Co. on a tour of US tech companies (Recruit eventually bought Indeed.com for $1 billion)
  • Studied the relationship between Boards and HR (won Walker Award)
  • Spoke at the World Bank in Paris on HR reporting
  • Co-authored Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan. The book was endorsed by the CHROs of IBM, LinkedIn and Starbucks.
  • Worked with Dr. Wanda Wallace on “Leading when you are not the expert” which topped the “Most Popular List” on the Harvard Business Review’s blog.
  • Worked with Dr. Henry Mintzberg on peer coaching, David’s learning modules are among the most popular topics.

Currently David is helping organizations to get on-track with people analytics.

This work led to him being made a Fellow for the Centre of Evidence-based Management (Netherlands) for his contributions to the field.

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