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Get Your Learners Back to Work!

Posted by Carla Torgerson, MEd, MBA on July 10, 2018 at 9:30 AM

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Josh Bersin recently wrote something I found particularly profound:

 “In the consumer world we want people to spend more and more time on our content. In the corporate learning world we want them to spend less.” (Josh Bersin, A New Paradigm For Corporate Training: Learning In The Flow of Work)

Of course, as learning professionals, we want to give people the content they need to be successful, BUT we also want them to quickly find what they need and get back to work. They want that too. And wouldn’t you? We all have limited time – busy days filled with “to do” lists and meetings (or some other way that our employer measures our productivity and value to the organization).

There is significant value in providing content that the learner needs, tailored to them and focused on how it applies to their work. We’ve all been in training sessions that lacked that application to our work; they were boring and probably had little impact on our performance. And by focusing on just what the learner needs, we also make it shorter because we don’t tell them a bunch of stuff they don’t need.

I’m working on a project right now where this has really come to light. The training is for sales reps in a pharmaceutical company. Their reps know the complicated chemistry of the drug extremely well; they can tell you why the drug works and the clinical situations where it will make the biggest difference for patients. But those reps don’t understand the nuances of Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial plan formularies to be able to have conversations with providers about when the drug is covered, when it’s not, what it may cost the patient, etc.

That’s a problem. And as you can imagine, it can immediately stop the conversation – before the rep has even had a chance to talk about the drug’s clinical properties, and those patients for whom it could make a significant difference.

Many organizations would jump to providing “training” on Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial plans. They’d take an hour or two, pulling the rep out of the field to cover this. But instead this company is developing ten minute mini-modules on the four most important topics for their reps. The reps will learn about the concept using scenarios that apply the content to their work. It’s one thing to tell them all about Medicare Part D. It’s an entirely different thing to tell them what about Medicare Part D may come up in their sales process with this drug. And by teaching through scenarios and focusing on how it comes up in typical selling situations, learners will see value throughout the module, which keeps them engaged.

More importantly, the modules are ten minutes long (some are even shorter) so the rep can take one any time they have a few spare minutes. We’re not taking them out of the field for this. And if they are in the car, getting ready to call on a provider with a significant Medicare population, they can review the module again as a refresher. We’re also providing a job aid that will provide just-in-time support for these situations too.

Let’s remember that our learners are busy people. They want to learn things that make them better at their jobs, but they also want to get back to that job quickly. And they want to be armed with practical, useful information that they can use immediately in their job. Focus on those things and you’ll make a greater impact in the training you develop!

Topics: Modern Learner, Business Outcome, Sales Training