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Learning leaders must be skilled in on-the-job implementation

For learning leaders, transforming textbook learning to on-the-job implementation requires skill and know-how. In an excellent article that appeared in the November/December issue of, Ed Emde, president of Wilson Learning Corp identifies six universal best practices for ensuring effective learning implementation. In last week’s blog, we discussed the first three of these practices. Outlined below are the last three.

  1. Integrate skills and tools with work processes. Experience has shown that learning must be an organic experience. It cannot be considered an add-on to what is already practiced, but must be restructured at the outset, integrating only parts of the existing work process that are relevant. Emde cites tools and skills as “the scaffolding that supports employee learning and speeds time-to-proficiency on the job.”
    [1] This integration of both tools and skills must become a familiar or natural part of the culture.

Some learning experts have made a practice of including tools and skills lingo in their daily communication with employees. They found that this makes it easier for recently hired employees to familiarize themselves with new terms.

Lean learning takes learning implementation a step further by inculcating the workplace with meaningful concepts, such as kaizen (constant improvement) and kata (recognizable patterns of behavior), that are integrally linked to practical application.

  1. Ensure manager preparation. To ensure workplace effectiveness, learning implementation of tools and skills must begin at the top. This doesn’t happen automatically, but requires instruction, coaching, teaching materials and guidance. Managers must become competent coaches who can handle even some of the most complex situations.

Follow-up coaching becomes a vitally important part of the learning implementation procedure. Lean learning principles provide a built-in Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process of learning reinforcement. Effective on-the-job learning implementation requires that managers take the same course as their employees, with an added day of teaching coaching skills.

  1. Drive coaching and reinforcement. Although most organizations now include reinforcement and coaching as part of their protocol, often learning leaders fail to follow through after initial learning sessions have occurred. Necessary reinforcement requires concrete coaching plans, recorded accountability, application and sharing. Lean learning builds several practices into its on-the-job implementation protocol, including the following tools: After Action Tools (AAR), Coaching Conversation, Control Point Regulation (CPR), Employee Engagement Surveys (Evaluation), and the Five-S Program.

Use of the six best practices for successful learning implementation should provide a fail-safe method for bridging the gap between classroom and workplace. Yet even when an organization prodigiously follows these practices, often they find themselves facing too many challenges that could easily have been solved during coaching, training and hands-on sessions. Stay tuned for next week’s blog that discusses this issue in greater depth.

[1] Emde, Ed. “Learning Implementation.”, November/December 2016.