We’re the ones who bring people together
L&D’s future is answering the questions Google doesn’t know how to tackle, says Adam Harwood, Revolut’s learning and development manager
If you put your users at the front of the queue, whatever you produce is based on the real challenges people are actually facing
We often hear it said L&D should get closer to the business. How should it achieve that?
A lot of L&D has traditionally been top-down. For years, for we had this idea that we knew what our people needed with L&D being the order-takers and managers coming to us to say ‘this person needs communications training’ – so off we’d go and put some training on, thinking it was the right solution. We aggregate lots of needs and turn them into a course, but nothing changes and nothing’s fixed. But if you build L&D from the bottom up and put your users at the front of the queue – by taking the problem and making an assumption about what’s going on, then validating it with the people doing the actual job – it means that whatever you produce is based on the real problems, challenges and situations people are actually facing.
The key is to do experiments, to be nimble and agile. Always ask your audience: is this helping? If I build these resources, will they be useful? You need that constant dialogue. You need to create resources that enable people to find the answer to their problems very quickly, and to do it wherever possible in the workplace.
What sort of initiatives have you put in place that embody that idea?
When I worked at my previous organisation, we really shifted the way we onboarded. We talked to people in the business, we unpacked their real concerns and it allowed us to build resources that ultimately would help people get up to speed quicker.
When you look at what induction is in most organisations, it’s putting people in a room for a few hours, talking at them and hoping they remember it afterwards. We built resources which were focused on the real pain points people have when they start. We even had pre-reading for them before they arrived. We iterated it, making it even stronger and better by continuing to ask our audience. What we realised very quickly by speaking to new starters and managers was that because of what we created, people were getting up to speed much quicker – and that was very noticeable across the business. They were coming into the business with a much better idea of what was expected and what our language was.
Looking back, we could have focused more on the data points we were trying to shift. If our audience said it was helping, that was good enough for us [in terms of evidence]. But sometimes you need to show strong evidence that what you are doing works.
How does working in a tech-enabled business change the way you approach learning?
People are smart. They use technology in their lives, they Google answers all day. Outside work, technology is all about helping us achieve what we want to achieve – whether that is ordering a pizza or getting a taxi. When we thinking about technology inside organisations, we think that putting something into an e-learning module constitutes being digital. But digital is about giving people what they need, when they need it – grab, go and move on to the next thing. You don’t need loads of providers or complex solutions for that.
We are a nation of Googlers. Every time we have a question, we Google the answer. But that provides an opportunity for L&D because the one question Google never answers is: how do we do things around here? If you can unpack that and build it in a way that is easy to find and accessible, you’re winning. Nowhere online or off the shelf can do that for you. That’s L&D’s job. We’re not the experts any more, standing at the front of the room. We’re the signposters, the honeybees bringing people together, sharing knowledge in a way that is consumable.
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