Tech That Teaches: Learning about E-Learning
July 13, 2016 | 1923 Views
Turnover is increasing. The war for talent is heating up. Competition for resources is advancing with year-end budgeting processes. It is no wonder that e-learning and blended learning have taken center stage in training and development discussions. Whether training teams are exploring the option in their organizations, or are evaluating their existing processes, insights and best practices are in demand.
Recently, CHART members and training experts Steve Baker, Michael Freeman and John Krahn shared their background, expertise and wisdom during a panel discussion at the NRA Show held in Chicago in May, 2016. Following are highlights from the direct and helpful discussion.
What are tips for getting started?
- Begin with a business goal in mind and articulate operational solutions with clarity. Evaluate current systems. What is working? What is not working? Where are any bottlenecks in the current processes occurring? What would great training look like, through the eyes of the employee and the eyes of senior leadership?
- Technology is a mechanism, not an end game. Carefully craft learning objectives, outcomes and measurement, then identify how technology can meet these needs accurately and efficiently. Each company’s needs and culture are different, so be mindful to choose solutions that meet the need. Whatever the application, consider it to be an Easy Button for operations, that sets them free from traditional administrative activities that interrupt serving guests and employees.
- Consider whole business solutions. The use of technology in business is evolving, and Training, Marketing, IT, Risk Management and Operations, among other departments, have expanded opportunities in the use of technology. A cross-functional team is critical to ensure organizational collaboration and organizational priority.
What are the benefits of using technology?
- The ability to identify and assess metrics is huge. With acceleration in average wage rates and turnover, the ability to measure how training aligns with performance and adjust accordingly has huge potential impact on the guest experience and the bottom line.
- Access to information on demand or at the point of question is an advantage. Today’s learner has an expectation of “just in time, just for me.” Rather than waiting for a manager or another team member to answer questions or provide demonstrations, well-designed on-demand materials can improve consistency and execution.
- Technology support organizational agility. Because content updates can be made and distributed much more efficiently than in a print-only environment; changes, updates and communication requires less process time between ideation and execution.
What are common barriers to consider?
- Restaurants have a core business. Be mindful to design for the real environment where learning will take place. Consider the pace of the business, access to information, and minimize the possibility of distracting from the guest experience.
- The launch is just the beginning. Following the process through to ensure that the learning is valuable and being properly used, that content is kept current, and that there is a feedback mechanism for continuous improvement and relevance. Just because it is easy to deliver content, doesn’t mean all content should be delivered. The discipline of the managing the content catalogue to ensure processes and communication are streamlined and clear must be carefully managed.
- Checking the boxes is not enough. E-learning is a helpful tool, but successful hospitality operations require engagement, coaching and leadership. Best-in-class organizations have demonstrated that e-learning does not replace training and coaching, but rather is used in a blended learning environment to fit the organization’s needs.
What do you wish you knew when you were preparing to start the use of technology that you know now?
- Don’t underestimate the hardware. With such variety in computers, devices and connection options, hardware should be carefully considered, and replacement costs after launch must also be considered.
- Get it right the first time. It is really expensive to underestimate design and have to retro-fit in hindsight.
- Decide what you want to have happen, and incorporate a road map into the process. Enlist the help of vendors and experts as appropriate, and gain agreement before making a big shift.
Like most strategic initiatives, e-learning requires a thoughtful, planned approach to be successful. Using collaboration, planning and keeping the end user in mind; teams can develop, implement and improve eLearning systems to bring big impact to the business!