Every learning strategy exists to take a business from point A to point B via an essential new piece of knowledge, process, or behaviour change. To do this, audience engagement and cooperation is vital. While there is no magic button to make people engage with a strategy, focusing on the motivations of your learners will provide a fast-track route to better engagement and status quo change.
With a shiny new initiative to embed into your organisation, it’s tempting to start with the ‘what?’ and develop the solution from there. In the maze that is audience engagement, this is a dead end. Instead, focus in on the ‘why?'. The ‘why?’ is what will drive the change forward and make the difference.
The reason for a learning strategy is obvious to you. X needs to happen so that Y can. Y will benefit everybody because of Z. It’s a simple formula. But are your teams aware of this context? And is X important or even relevant to them? How will a change in process or new piece of legislation impact Craig on the salesfloor?
Let’s look at it this way – if your goal is to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, what changes in behaviour do you need from Craig? Maybe you need Craig to build a relationship with this customer, ensure that he is always the customers point of contact and make notes on their likes/dislikes that he can refer back to before every interaction. Have you convinced Craig that this isn’t just extra admin work in his already busy day but something that can lead to improved sales and performance? He needs to know why he should sit up and pay attention.
Nobody in your organisation is sitting around with time on their hands. We all have busy schedules and a way of working that gets the job done. If the strategy doesn’t align with their priorities, you face an uphill battle to grab their attention and cooperation.
The Audience Engagement Convoy
Imagine everyone in your team is travelling in a convoy. You might know the route to where the business is going but can you say the same for everyone else? For them, the worst-case scenario is that they’re heading into the great unknown without a satnav.
Your shiny new learning initiative is a crossroad on the route. For you, the route is obvious and well sign-posted – you turn right and its straight on until morning. For the team, it’s less obvious – there are three different ways they can go. They can:
1. Turn right with you – otherwise known as strong engagement. People understand where you are going and follow your ‘directions’ to get there.
2. Turn left – otherwise known as mixed engagement. People understand where you want to go but disagree with your route.
3. They carry straight on – otherwise known as no engagement. People perceive your strategy as irrelevant or unachievable and continue as before.
To get people to turn right, your goals must align with theirs. They need to believe that what you are proposing can and will benefit them on a day-to-basis.
The Why Conflict
It’s a hard truth to face but your ‘why’ is not as important to your team as their ‘why’. The why that drives the learning should be driven by the needs of the wider team to support the business strategy. As with Connected Services in this article, why a particular thing is important to a brand or head office can be completely different to why it should be important to your people.
Progress doesn’t happen when one person does one big thing. Change happens when everyone makes changes in day-to-day tasks. When creating the shiny new learning strategy, you have to look at how the change will positively improve their skills and opportunities. Give them trust and power and learners will push both themselves and the business forward.
The Road Forward
So your challenge – should you choose to accept it – is to convince people what they do can and will impact the bigger picture. At RTS Group, this is at the core of every solution we offer and is the philosophy that drives scoping on all projects and briefs. If this is something your organisation has struggled with, why not get in touch and we can discuss how to put your teams at the centre of your learning strategy.
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