We have all been raised with the idea, or maybe even more powerful: with the belief that you have to complete a training course, regularly. Not only to keep up with new developments in your industry, but also to acquire new skills that you would need to climb the career ladder. Managing, communicating, project management, and giving feedback, just to name a few. Managers and HR staff are often more serious about regular training than other, because they know how important it is for people to develop themselves if you want an organization to grow (or to stay ahead of competition). This belief is one that we share with them. 100%
However, what we are not so convinced about, is the effectiveness of many of the training courses available. Have you ever wondered how much of your budget really leads to results? To visible changes in the workplace?
Please note, we are not saying that you have wasted all your training-dollars. We are also not saying that the other training courses are bad. Quite the contrary. We are saying that they could be more effective. Ultimately, you want your people to apply their training in their daily practice. If you send them on training to early, they will have forgotten what they have learned by the time they finally have the opportunity to use their new knowledge. And if you send them on training too late, they, or their colleagues, would have had months, sometimes even years, of trouble with ineffective actions in the office.
Effectivity has a lot to do with timing, but also with the training method. A 'one size fits all' solution, whether customized or not, will always ask for compromises on the side of the students. How can you expect people with completely different backgrounds, ages, skill sets, and experiences to have the same results with the same training? It matter a lot whether you start a Situational Leadership training as a 26 year-old project leader or as an HR employee with fifteen years experience.
Not everyone trains the same
For one, training might come too early, for another, it might be too late. Of course, they both need to take into account the task maturity level of their co-workers and the complexity of their assignment, but that's all. Because what one person finds tricky in guiding employees, may just be a walk in the park for another. And vice-versa. It is an illusion to think that everyone, benefits equally from the same training. Just like it is an illusion to think that every dollar you invest in training, yields the same returns.
Imagine that training can be organized differently. That you can link online training to classical training, that can you sometimes follow a coaching process, and then attend a workshop, or read a book Depending on what you need at that moment. Futuristic? Nope. With blended learning it is all possible, now!
Because blended learning is a lot, and much more than just a part of classical training replaced by one or two online modules. Blended learning is a mixture of various ways that people can use to develop themselves. A mixture that can be made to the needs of a person at a given moment. Individualized tailoring, in other words. Still too abstract? I will explain it a bit more concretely.
Let us take the example of Max, a 26 year-old project leader, who was told by his boss that he could follow a training course in leadership. But he honestly does not know if that is right for him. Sure, he is good in his field, and he definitely wants to develop himself, and yes, he has to guide another colleague, but is that really leadership? Or more coaching? Or maybe just keeping an eye out? And does he even want to lead others? And, if so, which training then?
Realistic questions. Luckily Max also has a realistic boss who realises that a process must proceed the training: Max first needs to determine what it is he really wants. That is why he will follow the online training module 'Me? Lead?'. His conclusion, after the training, is that he indeed wants to see how it is to guide people. He gets to work in practice and takes the first steps of leadership himself, with support from the online training module 'Situational Leadership', audiobooks and his own supervisor.
At a given moment, he nevertheless bumps his head, and wants to work more intensively on his management skills. Time to get to work with a trainer. He enrolls in the classical training, Situational Leadership. An excellent training module that teaches him a lot. But it also brings him to the realization that he should be more assertive. So he follows the online enrichment module, Assertiveness, to master the skill. And when he gets assigned an entire division, a year later, Max decides a little more coaching is needed. Because in theory he knows exactly how it should be done, but practice still makes perfect.
And that is how Max shapes his own learning path. Completely adapted to what he needs now. By combining online modules, classical trainings, coaching, books, etc. in a way that makes it relevant to what he finds challenging at that moment. No 'one size fits all' mentality. But tailored. Call it tailormade. We call it blended learning.
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