Multi-phase learning – have you got your ducks in a row?

26th September 2016

E-learning? Blended learning?  On the job?  Which approach to training is the most effective, when it comes to improving the performance of the people in your business? 

As specialists in people development, we are continually researching the most up to date training methods and in the following article offer you some key advice on maximising the effectiveness of your training.

So you’ve read the books on blended learning and you’ve trawled the internet looking for any e-learning solution that is really effective in the long term but when it comes to changing behaviour you’ve drawn a blank.  How can you really improve the effectiveness of your development interventions at the same time as keeping the budget down and really sharing the learning across target groups?

The research we’ve done at BLT points fairly and squarely at adopting a multi-phase, multi-dimensional approach to development, so if you want to maximise effectiveness of your training, to leverage expertise already in your business and drive down budget at the same time, here’s how you can do it:

  1. Start with your objectives – create goals that you can (and will) measure throughout

  2. Develop a learning journey – learning is a multi-phase experience.  That means a number of different chunks of activity.  Any learning theorist will back this approach up – you just need to make sure that there are multiple development activities in your plan that are linked by goal and separated by time.

  3. Create checkpoints – the length of your total learning journey will depend on the complexity of your objectives and what you are trying to achieve, but at the end of each ‘phase’, you need to create real checkpoints which focus on reflection and staying on track.

  4. Include opportunities for trial and error – with chunks of development separated by time, it’s easier to make sure that you’ve included plenty of opportunities for your students to try out and report back on their progress.

  5. Use blended learning – in today’s market, this ought to go without saying, but just in case – make sure that the events that you plan within your full journey are appropriate for a range of learning styles and adopt a multitude of training techniques including e-learning, self-study, peer group working and coaching.

  6. Enable multi-dimensional input – in almost all development, a leader or trainer of some description is recommended in order to facilitate the learning journey and to provide the desired theoretical and behavioural input when required.  However, alone they provide just one dimension to your training.  So in order to provide that multi dimensional input, you should endeavour to develop a learning journey that actively and explicitly includes a role for the Line Manager, a mentor and the participants peer group through a range of case studies, support groups and business challenges.

In the short term, one approach alone is very unlikely to give you the result that you want and in the long term will almost definitely cost you more as you’ll need to repeat the exercise again and again to get your training to stick.  We advocate the multi phase approach because by definition it mirrors the learning cycle and therefore is aligned to the way people learn.  It’s also very much of the moment, because it dovetails with the way businesses want to learn to day:

  • Shorter periods of time out of the business
  • Use of subject matter experts
  • Integrates technology as a way of learning
  • Places the LM firmly in the centre of the learning experience
  • Encourages cross functional, cross team collaboration

Samantha Caine is the Client Services Director at Business Linked Teams.  If you’d like to find out more about how she can help you to develop a multi-phase approach to your development activities contact her on samanthacaine@businesslinkedteams.com