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“When you think about something and don’t really know much about it, you will automatically get information.”Larry Page, Co-founder, Google.
As early as 2004, Google’s visionary founders predicted a future in which people didn’t have to search for information.
While this vision is a close reality in our consumer lives where most answers are only a search away on our smartphone, it still feels unattainable for many in the workplace.
In fact, when an employee is stuck on a process, they will often exit their workflow to search for the right folder for the right document, drill down into the right section to locate the exact paragraph they need to answer the question they have – only to find outdated information. This time wastage is not only inefficient but frustrating for the modern-day worker.
With the ever-changing world of corporate training, many trends have come and gone over the years. Improved methods of classroom training created the trend that became continuous sales training.
Most recently, we saw the rise of new corporate training solutions that implement microlearning to solve for the forgetting curve, the rapid rate at which employees forget information directly after hearing it.
But today, the cutting edge is just in time learning — a trend that’s here to stay and might be the bridge to that vision many of us have been longing for.
What is microlearning?
It’s already very popular: according to one study, “38 percent of talent development professionals currently use microlearning and another 41 percent plan to start within the next year.”
While microlearning delivers bite-sized information, just in time learning takes it a step further and delivers it when and where it’s needed — at the point of friction where employees are likely to make mistakes. Just in time learning embeds bits of knowledge into business processes so that users can find answers to their questions without interrupting their workflow.
Why Just In Time Learning?
Businesses of all sizes need to innovate if they wish to survive. Ability to change is so important that some have argued that rate of change should be the single most important business metric. However, merely deciding to adopt new technologies or change processes is not enough; these changes must also be communicated across the organization and adopted by employees.
Just in time learning gives businesses a key tool to enable corporate change. For the first time, companies are able to instantly spreadMelanie Fellay, CEO Spekit
wordabout process changes to all of their employees, in any workflow, giving them access to real-time information when and where they need it.
As a learning and development tool, just in time learning also encourages the 70-20-10 optimized learning model or a “learn by doing” mentality by embedding knowledge at every turn. Employees are supported with bite-sized pieces of information as they go about their work. The greatest benefit is that this embedded process reinforcement is a very effective way to boost retention.
Designing Knowledge and Training for Just In Time Learning
Unlike outdated techniques such as classroom training, just in time learning complements the ways your employees want to learn (and their short attention spans!). Just as you might search Google to quickly find answers for your questions as they arise, just in time learning delivers bite sized pieces of information in real-time.
Some best practices for just in time learning are: embrace different types of learners with rich content, encourage employees to participate in the process, and measure your results.
1. Embrace Different Types of Learners with Rich Content
You can divide your employees into four primary learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing. Each style prefers to receive information in a different way: Visual learners like graphs, charts, and whiteboards. Auditory learners prefer listening to information – perhaps via podcasts – or talking things through. Kinesthetic learners learn through experience, getting hands-on with projects. Finally, reading/writing learners like to read long-form text (like this blog post!) and to write out notes on what they’re learning.
What does this have to do with just in time learning? Long blocks of written content won’t appeal to an auditory learner, just as a podcast won’t help a visual learner. To be effective, then, you should display information in a variety of different ways. Along with a text explanation, embed images and short videos whenever possible.
To format your knowledge base effectively, think about how Google displays its results to a search query. Instead of simply showing a long block of text, Google displays a mix of results: a short text snippet, some related videos, and a handful of relevant images. Not only that, Google also links to other similar search terms for further pursuit.
Using rich media has another benefit: each form of information reinforces the training. Employees who are primarily reading/writing learners can benefit from a visual infographic that concisely sums up the key points.
One study showed that people typically remember only 10% of the information they read three days later. In contrast, they remember up to 65% when the information is both visual and verbal. In the context of corporate training, where knowledge retention is very important, this is a huge difference! Combine visual with written content to increase retention.
2. Allow employees to participate in the process
As companies change from a siloed, top-down structure to a more flexible, equal model, so too should corporate learning. You may have already heard of Employee-Generated Learning, which is a bottom-up learning model that employees manage themselves. This model is gaining popularity because it is flexible and adaptable to many learning needs.
When designing a just-in-time training program, include a quick and simple way for employees to ask questions. Users should be able to request more information about a term they don’t know, ask for clarification on current training, and connect with a subject-matter expert when needed.
Employees should be empowered to participate in their own learning. They should be encouraged to ask questions, identify gaps in their knowledge, and seek solutions. People learn more effectively when they are involved in the process – turning it from passive learning into active learning.
3. Measure results
As with any corporate initiative, good measurement is key to establishing ROI.
Many modern learning management systems (such as
By tracking the questions that employees are asking most often, leadership can develop new training content that addresses those areas. Over the long term, this strategy can save hundreds of hours of search time as the program’s effectiveness improves.
In addition, administrators can see what percentage of the knowledge is already documented by subject matter experts, giving them a comprehensive view of what knowledge their users have access to.
Make Time for Just In Time Learning
In summary, just in time learning is more effective than microlearning as a corporate training strategy because it provides knowledge both where and when it’s needed. When employees can get answers without interrupting their workflows, they can move through tasks more efficiently. To create an effective program, follow just-in-time learning best practices like using rich content, encouraging employee participation, and measuring your results.
If you’re looking for content to help you jump-start your just in
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Fact: According to ATD’s State of Sales Training Report, the United States spends on average $1,459 per salesperson each year on sales training. That’s almost 20 percent more than they spend on workers in all other functions. Much of this training is curriculum-based and conducted in person.
Fact: The forgetting curve shows that participants forget almost 70 percent of the information they were taught in this classroom-style training just one day later.
Put those two facts together, and that’s a tough ROI to swallow, especially given the opportunity cost of lost revenue.
So how can businesses keep up with the rapid rate of change and the need for ongoing training? How can they compete in a world where employee quit rates are at a 17-year-high (based on Bureau of Labor Statistics) and remote work is on the rise?
Simply put, sales managers need to give their teams access to the information they need, when and where they need it. Fortunately, new technologies are making this training easier than ever before.
Curriculum-Based Training Isn’t the Enemy
In many organizations, sales training is conducted during a single, one-off, fast-paced information dump where sales reps are expected to memorize new features, workflows, message maps, and sales tactics. This often occurs in a boot camp style environment or during the early stage of their employment with the organization. Another option is at the annual sales kickoff (SKO) meeting where the company reviews the new years’ quotas, any changes in messaging, new products, and so forth. Typically, these meetings also include motivational sessions by prominent public speakers or senior leaders within the company.
There are some clear benefits, including cultural intangibles from an employee engagement standpoint, to providing curriculum-based training through onboarding programs and annual kick-off meetings. It’s a great time to transfer foundational knowledge about the organization and its mission, as well as baseline expectations around things like pipeline and targeted prospects. It’s also an effective way to gather the collective minds of your team in one place to share ideas and best practices that might otherwise get lost in the day-to-day hustle.
Ongoing Training Is Key
A study conducted by IBM on the value of training reports that just one in five new hires will stay at an organization if they do not receive the training they need for their jobs when they join. But what happens when the internal processes or messaging that they learned changes a few months into their role and the annual kick-off meeting or next training session is some six months away?
To maintain its competitive advantage in a rapidly shifting technological landscape, your company needs to prepare it’s staff by instituting effective change enablement and an ongoing training process. It’s likely you’ve thought about requiring your sales teams to complete a certain number of training hours each quarter—where you can re-emphasize the most important information and address questions that may have come up.
Think about that for a minute longer.
While that may be effective as a start, consider how you, as an individual, gain the knowledge you need to get what you want. If you’re like most people, you search online to find bite-sized, contextual, and timely tidbits of information. Rarely do you seek lengthy training sessions.
Now think about how often your organization updates CRM or sales team policies and procedures. How long do team members spend getting up-to-date on those new policies and processes. No matter what your answer to that question is, it likely takes longer than it should. What’s more, every minute your sales team isn’t focused on actual selling is a minute that your competitor could be stealing away a customer.
A New Era of Learning Technologies
It’s not just your business that’s changing at the speed of light. The technological landscape in the sales, knowledge management, and learning space is evolving at an equally rapid rate. It only takes a quick glance at the Sales Technology Landscape, developed by sales technology expert Nancy Nardin, which categorizes 600+ solutions in this space to realize this.
For instance, consider the evolution of learning management systems (LMSs). Most LMSs on the market are cost-effective and relatively easy to manage, while providing end users with easy access to a modern, multimedia learning environment that learning developers can personalize to help drive home the knowledge sales leaders need to make a difference to the business.
The problem? Many of these LMSs live in a portal that’s completely separate from your team’s workflows and processes. So while it may be helpful for a one-time lesson or onboarding, it’s not helpful for the day-to-day application of that knowledge.
As a result, we are starting to see an emergence of new learning and knowledge sharing solutions designed specifically around the way modern day workers learn behaviors in their consumer lives. Need same-day grocery or toilet paper delivery? Click. Need a ride to the airport? Click. Access to what people need, when they need it is easier than ever. Yet in the workplace, employees often will find themselves searching for the right folder for the right document, drilling down into the right section to locate the exact paragraph they need to answer the question they have. Not only does this lead to a significant amount to time wasted, the frustration of constantly feeling stuck can be crippling to employee engagement.
That’s exactly the problem that just-in-time learning and knowledge sharing technologies are solving: small, easily understood, and accessible bites of knowledge embedded directly into workflows or CRM. This approach gives employees road signs, complete with videos and images, every step of the way to ensure that your team has the knowledge they need. Not only does this sort of quick and easy access to knowledge minimize friction during onboarding, it allows organizations to effortlessly drive process changes and maximize productive selling efforts at the same time.
No doubt, business is always evolving. Fortunately, the learning market also is evolving to respond to these changes. Better yet, the number of knowledge sharing tools is rapidly growing. Indeed, 2019 will be the year for just-time-in learning—just wait.
A few weeks ago we tried something new: we ran a poll on Twitter asking our community to vote, based on previous requests from our clients, on which feature they would like to see us include on our roadmap for Spekit. The winning vote? A Print-to-PDF functionality.
We were really excited to see the number of responses and activity around the tweet, but we were frankly quite puzzled with the outcome. While doable, Print-to-PDF felt like a step back from our cloud-based, digital just-in-time learning and knowledge sharing solution.
In fact, two of the driving principles behind our product are ease-of-access and relevancy. Simply put, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for employees to get relevant, up-to-date information and content in the workplace, exactly when and where they need it. On the other hand, PDFs are stagnant and external to a company’s systems and processes. Often times, PDFs and Word Docs are stored deep inside folder storage systems that require employees to drill down into the right section and “Ctrl F” until they locate the exact paragraph or bullet point they are searching for to answer their question. For that reason, a Print-to-PDF feature felt like a step in the opposite direction from our vision. But that was before we spoke to our clients and understood the use cases.
What we hadn’t considered: the Flexibility of Print-to-PDF
Another core value that drives our product is flexibility. Flexibility in customizing to fit your organization’s needs, flexibility to invite both Salesforce users and non-Salesforce users, and now flexibility in format.
We recognize that different employees and roles access and retain information best in different formats. For example, while a sales representative might gain a better understanding of a process by watching a 2 minute video, a developer will grasp it best by looking at a process map or graph.
As such, we decided early on that in order for Spekit to truly eliminate the redundancy of information within an organization and to be the single “source of truth” around a company’s processes and data, it was critical that we provide different ways for users to view and interact with shared knowledge:
- Data Dictionary: Ideal for analysts and developers alike, Spekit allows you to sync to Salesforce, customize and describe your metadata and relationships (mappings, dependencies etc.) in a tabular format with easy searching/filtering to see a full picture of the “data about your data.”
2. Wiki: Spekit’s expanded wiki view allows users to view content in a long-form rich text format, complete with images and videos for easy reading — think flash cards on steroids.
3. Just-in-time learning: While the wiki view may be ideal for your initial “deeper dive” overview of the process, from our own experience, we know that it’s only once you’re doing the process that you will realize what you don’t know. That’s why our integrations allow users to access this same information in small, easily understood and accessible bites of knowledge embedded directly in their workflows or CRM for instant reference.
With that in mind, we realized the Print-to-PDF was no longer a step in the opposite direction, but instead a way to accommodate more use cases and learning styles:
With so many notifications, emails, Slack messages and more in today’s modern work life, it’s hard to stay focused on a single task. It’s no wonder that even some of the most tech-forward executives take handwritten notes and that many people, like myself, still indulge in the pleasure of reading paperback books rather than digital ones: to avoid distractions and disconnect from the digital world for even just a brief moment. By allowing you to generate a printable PDF from any given set of definitions or knowledge cards, Spekit makes it easy for anyone to tune out the noise and focus on a single task: absorbing the knowledge the old pen-and-paper style.
Bootcamp style training
While Spekit’s digital knowledge and just-in-time learning solution may be the ideal tool to accelerate the on-boarding process of new hires in small to medium-sized organizations, in larger organizations or call centers where entire “classes” of new hires are made at once, there are often more elaborate “training bootcamps” in place. Using our Print-to-PDF feature, training managers can create a printed manual within seconds that is customized by role or department and that can be distributed to new hires for note-taking during their classroom-style training sessions.
Consultants: Statements of work
Our Salesforce implementation partners love Spekit because it has allowed them to replace spreadsheets, Powerpoints and 80-page long documentation on their implementation with a single solution for both training and system documentation. Not only does Spekit drive adoption of their implementation with end-users, it simultaneously provides them with an easy hand-off to admins and development teams. Taking this a step further, consultants can now select all of the fields, objects and processes that were part part of their implementation and within seconds, provide the executive Sponsor and client with a document that details “everything we did and why” to compare to the Statement of Work.
How does Print-to-PDF work?
- Using the multi-select functionality, simply select which Objects, Fields, Picklist Values or Knowledge cards you’d like to include in your document. Next, select “Print to PDF” from the Bulk Actions menu to the right of your screen.
2. Next, you have two “Print” or “Save to PDF” options:
- Print Summary: Ideal for training manuals, includes Definition, Business Process, Owner
- Print Everything: Includes all of the details around the knowledge, including any custom metadata.
And done. In just two steps you now have a training manual or statement of work that you can print or use at any time.
Do you have any other neat ideas around features that would facilitate the ease-of-access to knowledge in your organization? Send an email to email@example.com. We are all ears!
Interested in seeing how Spekit can change the way knowledge is shared in your organization? Sign-up here for a demo.