Now is a good time to summarize a year of lessons learned from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on training and development work in Nordic organizations. We at FranklinCovey have asked a number of questions in our surrounding environment via social media, and also compiled experiences from the hundreds of meetings we have had with people who are responsible for promoting development, training and cultures. Here are some of our main conclusions.
Great leap forward for digital learning
Before the pandemic, between 10 and 40 percent of the organizations placed a certain emphasis on using digital media in their development work. Most of them did it “a little bit” – as a complement to various kinds of physical interaction, but there were still very few who considered it to be their main strategy. Between 80 and 100 percent of all training now takes place digitally. The big differences we have noticed are:
- It is now completely acceptable. Whereas digital solutions were previously often seen as being “a cheaper alternative, but at least something”, they are now completely accepted and appreciated by employees.
- “Blended learning” previously meant that we mixed classroom training with digital interaction. Blended learning now involves a well-balanced mix of different digital deliveries – self-study of pre-packaged web-based training modules, facilitator-led online workshops, web-based tests, access to articles and videos online, and chat groups.
- Perhaps the biggest difference we have noticed is in the effect. In the past, a “course” often involved a couple of days at a study center where the participants were flooded with information but much of it dissipated away before it could actually be put to use. The processes are now more spread out over time, more and better modularized and adapted so that they can be used step by step in the relevant situations. This means that the behavioral changes – and thus the return on investment – are actually bigger than was the case with conventional training before the pandemic.
Commitment and execution are key
The goals of different types of upskilling programs and development programs are basically the same as before the pandemic. Most of the people we have spoken to state one of these three categories as the main goals for various development programs:
- Commitment – ensuring employee commitment and focus. In a world where so many people are now physically isolated while working, the need to highlight an organization’s culture and values, and cultivate a sense of togetherness and team spirit, increases. Personal leadership also ranks highly on that scale.
- Execution – how do we ensure that teams focus on the right things and implement the changes that the organization needs to make to achieve future success. The need for clear processes for goal management, focus, and change management has increased, as has the need for sustainable methods for personal productivity and time management.
- Digitalization – the need to both learn new digital ways of working, and also to find good approaches in an increasingly digital world, has increased.
In this guide, we at FranklinCovey have gathered together some concrete tips on how leaders can increase and clarify the team’s commitment to its goals: https://info.franklincoveynorth.com/8-ways-to-boost-your-teams-commitment-to-goals
Increased leadership demands
A clear trend among everyone we have spoken to is that leadership has certainly not become easier. The issues that we have noticed are common, based on the work we have done, are:
- How can you lead and develop talent effectively when working remotely?
- How can you build a trusting environment and a feedback culture when working remotely?
- How can we develop new leaders who can take on new responsibilities – when we aren’t meeting each other?
- How can leaders help employees navigate correctly in a time of considerable change, and not lose their motivation along the way?
In this guide, we at FranklinCovey have gathered together some of our thoughts about how leaders can work with their teams to adapt, change and become stronger in times of change: https://info.franklincoveynorth.com/help-your-team-thrive-in-the-age-of-remote-work
In other words, the summary from the investigations we have carried out is that most organizations are now investing more time and more resources in development. And that the strategic importance of developing talent is greater than before, as well as that the restrictions on in-person meetings have resulted in more efficient development work with more measurable results than before. And that a long-term and well-thought-out learning culture with regular training of behaviors and knowledge in real situations is replacing what we previously called “going on a course”.