cocktails representing learning needs
Training & Learning

Shaken and Stirred? How to Serve Up Learning Needs in Two Irresistible Ways

If you follow the hit series Top Chef, you’ll know that the judges insist their contestants stick to preparing each of their dishes in one, unique style. A chocolate mousse should only try and be a chocolate mousse; it’s not its place to show off its citrusy side or throw on a meringue hat, trying to impersonate its cousin, the lemon tart. 

But at 360Learning, we disagree with this approach. We’re more followers of Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix ideology. We think ingredients can be mixed, matched, and experimented with in a myriad of ways, all yielding exciting results.  After all, collaboration often leads to new pairings and breakthrough ideas, and we’re nothing if not strong supporters of collaborative efforts. 

It’s with this idea in mind that we’d like to go past the standard way of presenting one of our signature features, Learning Needs. You probably know the Learning Needs feature as a tool that facilitates collaborative learning by allowing learners to request needs to help them become more efficient and engaged at work. 

We’d like to expand your palette by showing you two twists on the original idea, both in the service of making your lives as L&D professionals a little easier.

Training Needs Analysis Template

Simplify your training needs analysis with our free template

Deep Dish: Learning Needs in the Flow of Work 

Our first variation is a flavorful use of the Learning Needs feature to ensure your employees stay focused and in the flow of work, even when they come up against a skills gap. 

Imagine this scenario: You're assigned a task by your manager. As you start to plan out the work, you realize you don't know some information required to complete the assignment (How do I generate this report? How do I use this software? How do I find out which days we have off?). You reach out to a peer and they also don't know where to find the information. You search several tools and information repositories, but continue to come up short. 

You start to feel a little frustrated. At your next meeting with your manager, you let them know about the blocking issue and they point you in the direction needed to move forward, but you feel like you wasted so much time.  This seems a pretty standard approach, but it has some limitations!

  • It's synchronous.  It requires you to take time with your manager or a subject-matter expert to resolve the knowledge gap.
  • It's inefficient. While you now have the information you need, your team members don't. They may reach out to you in the future, which takes more time to share valuable knowledge.
  • It disrupts the flow of work.  You had to stop working to search for information that only a subject-matter expert had. Coveo published an article recently that said, the average knowledge worker can spend more than 3 hours a day trying to find info on how to do their job. This is not people who are onboarding —this includes people who have been doing their job for a while. This represents one out of every five days! 
  • There's no standard. If the knowledge or process evolves, you and your team may have different understandings, which can cause friction.

How Learning Needs can spice up your day

Let's reimagine that above scenario with Learning Needs activated for your group: You're assigned a task by your manager and as you start to plan out the work, you realize you don't know some information required to complete the assignment (How do I generate this report? How do I use this software? How do I find out which days we have off?). 

You reach out to a peer and they also don't know where to find the information but suggest you look at the learning platform to see if a course can assist you. You search the 360Learning platform for a course, but discover that the course doesn't exist yet.  You declare a Learning Need and ping your manager as a subject matter expert who can create a course with this information.  Your team members upvote the need because they would also benefit from that information. 

Your manager sees the Learning Need and creates a course (the average course creation time is 17 minutes, which is probably how long you spent talking about this in your synchronous meeting in the first scenario!). Your whole team now has access to relevant, correct, and timely information. 

How did that resolve the above issues?

  • Now, it's asynchronous. Your manager could address this Learning Need without needing to schedule a meeting to discuss.
  • It's efficient. Valuable knowledge is available to anyone who needs it.
  • You remained largely in the flow of work. You quickly identified that the knowledge was missing. Rather than spend time searching, you declared a Learning Need, and returned to other tasks until your manager created the course. 
  • Standardized. As the knowledge or process evolves, your manager can update the course to ensure the information stays relevant and useful.

Both the learner's and author's experience is easy, impactful, and learner-centric when you enable Learning Needs for your groups. You know when your pizza has that perfect, deep dish crust. Your learners know when your organization is invested in their development. Like a handful of your favorite toppings, learners empowered to share their needs enriches the learning experience. 

But, as we all know, there’s more than one way to enjoy a pizza pie.

Thin Crust: How to Meet Business Objectives

While ad-hoc requests support learner growth in the flow of work, Learning Needs can also help you establish a process to develop training programs and achieve business goals. Here at 360Learning, we use Learning Needs to develop our quarterly training programs. Our second preparation of Learning Needs is exquisite on its own, or alongside a salad or your favorite soft drink. Please enjoy this sample of how we enable our teams to meet quarterly business objectives. 

Our Sales team works hard to stay apprised of new product knowledge, and they do so supported by our Sales Enablement team using the 360Learning platform. 

Sales team members can submit and upvote Learning Needs at any time. However, in general, the Sales Enablement leader prioritizes upcoming trainings. Each quarter, she assesses the Learning Needs requested by sales and also pings other team’s key stakeholders, including product, marketing, operations, legal, and leadership. The other teams review their priorities and determine what sales will need to know.  Non-sales teams submit Learning Needs requests to the Sales Group in the 360Learning platform for review by the Sales Enablement lead. 

Learning Needs Screenshot
Here’s an example of a cross-team Learning Need declared using the 360Learning platform.

Based on new features, Learning Needs requests from sales, general business needs, and high-level objectives, our Sales Enablement leader develops a roadmap of training delivery for the next quarter. She assigns project leads who outline required deliverables and deadlines for each upcoming course. 

Cross-team stakeholders confirm the project delivery date from the proposed calendar and join as subject-matter experts to work on their assigned activities. Each week, sales reps access updated training. New courses take an average of 20 minutes to complete. With minimal time commitment, the sales team starts each week armed with new knowledge to share with prospects. 

How to get the best of both worlds with Learning Needs

We prepare Learning Needs “two ways” because they flavor your L&D strategy with collaboration and transparent prioritization. It’s easy to upskill from within when you let your learners guide you. So, whether you’re team deep dish or team thin crust (or maybe you want to sample both), go ahead and activate Learning Needs for your groups, and let us know what you think in the comments!