When you traditionally talk about communication in the learning & development space, thoughts of the fundamentals skills of learning delivery are brought to the front of the mind. Interpersonal concepts such as voice tone, body language NLP meta models, influencing and questioning skills. Or you may think of the way we communicate through delivery tools such as flipcharts or PowerPoint slideshows.
However, communication has a far broader context in the toolkit of a 21st Century learning practitioner. Engagement with the business and line management within that business is vital for the process of learning to embed itself and create value for the business.
At a fundamental level, communication pre and post a learning event is vital for that learning event to “mean something” or add value for the participants and their team.
Engaging the line manager prior to a learning event is vital, not only to ensure attendance, but to ensure that a) participants know that their line manager is behind them on their learning journey and b) that they will be held accountable for their performance at the event when they return to the workplace.
This pre-communication needs to be both informative of the subject matter, but influential that the manager is enthused about the event rather than focusing upon “losing” their team member for a set period. So the learning objectives of the event have to be communicated in such a way that the manager sees where this learning fits in their bigger picture e.g. organizational goal/current hot topic – aligned learning goal – individual development need – benefit to the manager.
As Kirkpatrick’s model shows, the evaluation of learning does not end in the classroom. If you want to get close to Level 3 or 4 evaluation, the embedding and evaluation of the learning has to occur back in the workplace. Now we know that this has to occur through the line manager, who understands more about the the day-today roles of their team members, and provides a level of gravitas to the evaluation process in the eye of the participant. So before you proceed with delivering your learning interventions, ask yourself these questions:
1) Does the manager fully understand the learning and expected behavioral/knowledge outcomes of the intervention?
2) Have they been provided with tools, documentation and explanation to support the evaluation process?
3) Does the manager have the coaching, mentoring or feedback capability to undertake the evaluation process?
4) What communications are you going to undertake to follow up and ensure evaluation has taken place in the appropriate manner?
So as you can see, the most crucial communications you will make as a learning practitioner is not to your delegates, but to the key stakeholders in the business who will support the delegates in their ongoing development journey.
The pre and post communications around learning interventions are just one form of communication that you need to undertake with your stakeholders in the business. Building an energy and momentum around learning is vital and requires notonly change seminars and workshops, but water-cooler conversations, regular emails (to other electronic communications such as Whatsapp group chats etc), newsletters – different forms of communications that reinforce what you are trying to achieve in he organization through learning.
Take a page out of the corporate account manager’s manual – key account management and keeping your “clients” happy and engaged with your “product” through regular reinforcing communication and “offers” will continually raise the profile, engagement with and support of the learning message in your business.