4 Questions for Sam Ponzo, Global Practice Leader for Dupont Sustainable Solutions

4 Questions for Sam Ponzo, Global Practice Leader for Dupont Sustainable Solutions

What Role Does Organizational Culture Play in Learning?
We have found that successful learning organizations have three key components within their culture:

>> Learning is given status within the corporation and is not seen as a waste of time or as simply a cost.

>> Employees are given the time and freedom to apply new concepts.

>> Professional progression is clear and transparent.The importance of the first cultural component is clear.

However, the second cultural component has to be coupled with having learning events and material that is clearly linked with the business direction of the company. This linkage makes it natural for the employee to have the freedom to apply new concepts, because it is advancing the goals of the company. The third culture element allows the employee to know which skills and capabilities are valued within the organization.

WHAT KIND OF RESULTS DO YOU LOOK FOR IN LEARNING INITIATIVES?
We look at a few elements to judge if learning initiatives are successful. The key measure of individual success is whether the learner mastered the material. This is measured through testing or skill demonstration. We also try to understand how well the event engaged the learner. Organizational success is harder to measure. With any learning initiative, it is important to establish the expected business results from the effort. This could include an improvement in business metrics such as sales, productivity or cost. It could also include issues like employee engagement, customer satisfaction or alignment. We then work to determine how we are going to measure these metrics and on what time scale. Ultimately, we are engaging in learning activities for a business reason. So it is important to determine if the learning effort had an impact on the business.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT (L&D) INDUSTRY CHANGING?
The availability and accessibility of information is making “just-in-time” learning more prevalent. There are times now where the goal is to teach learners how to find information instead of requiring them to learn the information. We have been working with Quick Response (QR) codes to allow employees to use their phone to pull up how-to videos for tasks that they do infrequently. We have found that this is much more effective than training someone year after year for a task they may only perform once a month.

The other big change we have seen is the switch from pushing learning down to the employee or a learner pulling information to learning based on their everyday needs. So learning and development has gone from anticipating and then providing training to listening to employees to determine what they need to do their jobs.

The whole social media and analytics areas within learning are starting to become more prevalent. Interactivity in learning is beginning to take different forms. Historically, this occurred in the classroom setting. Now, social media, video, webinars, chat, etc. are being used to drive interaction with the learning material, instructors and other learners. Peer feedback through badging, posts and ratings are driving the selection of what types of training are effective. As delivery modes for learning happen more through technology, there is the ability to track abandonment rates, progression speed and question failure rate. Analyzing these factors enables the organization to respond faster to improve training effectiveness.

HOW DOES THE CHALLENGE OF AN AGING WORKFORCE AFFECT ORGANIZATIONAL L&D INITIATIVES?
The aging workforce presents many challenges to an organization. Many of these challenges impact L&D as well. A few examples are:

>> Changes in physical ability may impact the way manual tasks are done. That often requires retraining to show how to do manual tasks in the proper way and to emphasize form and technique.

>> Increase in turnover within an organization. As retirements mount, many companies that have not had large-scale hiring initiatives in decades are now having to onboard large groups of workers. In many cases, they do not have the infrastructure to effectively train large groups.

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