Running out of time is not really possible if you think about it. I am by no means going to dwell into philosophical concepts here, but time is limitless, it does not just end at some point that a person can pass regardless his or her speed. Then again, it’s not really productive to cut the mustard either and yet that is the common idiom to describe a job well done.
In today’s complex and competitive business environment time seems to shrink and there never seems to be enough of it to allow for properly complete tasks. And to make things worse, new challenges arise constantly and workers need to meet expectations in a timely manner.
Expectations are high
The present-day employee expects to get the information and tools necessary to do a job as fast and easy as using a search engine to find the perfect recipe for lava cake. This puts a lot of pressure on L&D professionals.
On one hand, training and development should be a continuous and coherent process, easy to follow, adjust and report on. On the other, the trouble with a formal process is that it may not be exactly what a person needs at one specific point in order to solve a work puzzle and achieve good results.
Training just in time (or ‘on demand’) is the solution organisations all over the world are turning to.
It started on an assembly line
The concept borrows its name from the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. In order to be able to stay competitive after the war when American car factories were thriving, they came up with the idea of reducing the time needed for the production of a unit as well as the response times from suppliers and to the customers.
The concept also brought about a substantial effort reduction and ultimately lead to the automated lines of today where everything happens exactly when it needs to with great precision and accuracy.
Applied to corporate learning, the just in time strategy requires an immediate and relevant response to any educational need of an employee.
It’s necessary to fist build a learning culture
It took Toyota approximately ten years to implement this revolutionary strategy. Companies don’t have that long if they want to stay competitive so just in time training has to become part of the L&D strategy as soon as possible and become operational almost as fast.
Read more: Just-in-time learning in the workplace
The good news is that people are already used to getting their information in concentrated morsels when they need them. It’s easy to incorporate personal experiences and preferences in order to ensure they feel encouraged to learn both formally and informally while doing their jobs.
In HR terms, this means cultivating a learning culture within the organisation and though it sounds like a lengthy process, due to the natural curiosity of people combined with the highly engaging technologies available it can be brought about rather quickly.
Resources and channels should be varied
Learning is as much about seeing and listening as it is about testing and asking questions. It’s important to have a number of channels and venues for the learners to communicate and give feedback. This is the best way for getting to know them and understanding what their objectives, needs and learning preferences are.
The construction of a solid learning culture will have to be followed by the development of rich sources of educational materials that will need to be complex, varied and, at least to some extent, personalized.
In order to make sure everything is valuable and relevant, L&D specialists have to get a good understanding of their target audiences. The analytics features of a good LMS will be of tremendous help in this task.
Content should constantly be evaluated and updated
Once the implementation process moves into the content creation phase, it’s the job of instructional designers to bring their A game and develop meaningful bite-size units that are both brief and informative. And needless to say, online. The time of printed handouts is gone.
Materials need to be accurate, engaging and easy to find. It’s important for the LMS to be easily searchable and have predictive features to help the learner see modules that might be relevant to them. Materials ought to be in various presentation forms, going from plain text to slide shows, videos, infographics, interviews, conference presentations and even the possibility to communicate and get feedback from subject matter experts.
Learners are as different as are the ways they prefer to get their information so it’s best to give them options.
In the end
Just in time learning is the winning strategy in the modern corporate world. Employees want a reliable and easily accessible database that will help them figure out how to surpass complex challenges and give them the most effective methods for completing simpler tasks.
Basically they need to learn how to cut the mustard without running the risk of running out of time.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.