Enterprise e-Learning: Serving Two Masters

talentlms_blog_competitionIf you chose TalentLMS for your enterprise e-learning needs you made the right choice (if we may say so). But to successfully sell it to your organization you need to convince two groups of people: end users and managers.

End users are your “students”. These can be new employees taking an orientation course or senior employees learning a new skill or process. In any case, they, and not their managers, are the ones who will be actively using your LMS platform.

General advice about running an e-learning service (some of which you can find in this very blog) applies to enterprise users too. Advice about course structure, graphic design, content guidelines and the like, for example, is still valid.

We are however dealing with different business needs (literally, in the sense that an enterprise deploys e-learning in order to grow its business).

Where a commercial e-learning offering catering to students is quite straightforward (people register and pay you to learn a new skill), enterprise e-learning can be a little bit more complex, with office politics coming into play.

Your enterprise learners for example might be forced by their managers to learn new skills because the company has expanded into a new sector or methodology (and are usually reluctant to the new developments and afraid of the changes to their routine).

Some employees might be overworked, with precious little time to put into your classes.

Others might feel they know all the things you’re teaching from experience and that there’s nothing new to show them.

Others might struggle with the changes in their workflow and feel overwhelmed (imagine an older employee, hired in the era of the fax machine, trying to understand some newly deployed software you might be teaching).

It’s your job, as an enterprise e-learning instructor to help them appreciate what you have to offer.

First of all, you and your classes should not stand in their way of their day to day work. Take advantage of e-learning’s asynchronous nature and try to plan your courses around their schedule.

If you also need to have physical meetings, picking hours that work for the majority of your learners can be surprisingly tricky: scheduling a class meeting during office hours can be great, as it enables them to get a break from work, but it can also be stressful for those that have pressing deadlines and responsibilities.

Similarly, scheduling classes outside office hours can annoy employees that are tired and want to go home at the end of the day.

So, talk to your users to find out what works for them, but don’t expect a perfect solution.

The key to making your enterprise learners appreciate what you have to teach them, is to show them how it can actually help them in their day to day work.

That means you have to show them concrete examples and practical applications, not merely talk about its theoretical benefits. In order to do that, you’ll have to do some learning yourself: study how they currently work and try to see in which ways it can be improved by following the new skills you’re teaching.

A new technique that will have them get higher quality results is nice, but one that will save them time and manual labor will be even more appreciated.

Then there are the managers.

If they are the ones that asked for the e-learning service to be deployed then your job is easy, as they already understand its value proposition.

But, more often than not, you have to deal with managers that have had e-learning imposed upon their employees from those higher up, and who might see it in a negative light. It’s your job to turn those around too.

For starters, don’t make them feel like you’re wasting their employees’ time. Try to work your class schedules around their deadlines and see that the training doesn’t have an impact in the everyday productivity of the employees.

More importantly, talk with them. Try to make them feel like partners instead of competitors. Ask them if there’s something they think employees should be taught that is not already covered in your classes. Give them a showcase of the LMS platform, and open an account for them in case they want to check it themselves.

Of course the best you can do to win them over is to give them results. This is what makes them look good to their superiors, and what will make your e-learning service looks good to them.

Modern LMS platforms have extensive reporting capabilities to help you keep track of learning progress, skills acquisition and students engagement. Share those with the users’ managers, as it’s something that makes their department look good.

But also try to keep stats of employee performance in work skills related to your classes and compare their “before and after” results. If you can document a concrete uptick in productivity (which you should, unless you’re doing e-learning wrong), then you’re golden.

That’s all for today. Stay tuned for more tips, best practices, e-learning industry news and rants, along with technology coverage.

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