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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

Why We're Doubling Down on Knowledge Sharing Over Training

According to Gallup's Workplace research, "the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary -- and that's a conservative estimate."

The equation for that loss is complex. The cost of losing an employee is impacted by everything from hiring costs to blows to team morale and of course decreased productivity as they try to integrate a new team member who has to learn the organization, their processes, their clients, and their culture.

There is an immense amount of learning that takes place on the job. When an employee leaves, the institutional knowledge lost can be devastating to an organization, particularly one that is small with specialized roles.

At the same time, formal training is wanted but also not demonstratably effective in many cases.

In 2016, a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, they found that 75% of a participant group of 1,500 senior managers reported that training was NOT critical to business outcomes. Some notable examples pointed out that even in instances where employees thought the training was engaging, longitudinal study of on-the-job performance didn't support that it had been effective. In some cases, fatal errors were still being made.

Now, I know that one training experience isn't going to change performance forever, but many of my non-L&D counterparts do not.

And clearly, the general default to elearning modules and vILT isn't serving anyone. Significant scrap learning continues to be reported, though the exact numbers are anyone's guess post-pandemic.

Bluntly said... the focus on efficient delivery has pushed L&D to revert to templatized learning to support complex learning needs, and that is minimizing its potential to support performance on the job.

This is why we've decided to shift away from training as a primary offering here at Your Instructional Designer, and if you are at all responsible for learning at your organization, I would encourage you to consider the shift as well.

The Bet

We're doubling down on knowledge sharing supported by digital transformation.

I previewed my initial vision on LinkedIn. In case you missed that post, here's a snippet:

Your ID is NOT a training firm. We are a learning & people development agency. That means, as I develop packaged offerings, I’m leaning away from “level 1-4 eLearning” or “60 min vILT” types of solutions and into what I see as more meaningful solutions, which will likely include:

- Social learning networks

- Knowledge bases

- Learning “events” in virtual spaces

- Search-friendly curated & created content channels

- Internal storytelling and story sharing

- Templates and toolkits

I’m sure formal learning will still be a part of the work we do, but only when it’s necessary and context appropriate.

As someone who's made a career from teaching and building courses, I know there is value in formal learning, but that valued is watered down when we start creating courses and presentations or simply focusing on content as the solution for everything.

And it's further watered down when it fails to account for the reality of business:

  • It can be messy.

  • No one has time to do extra that isn't necessary.

  • People / departments can become siloed.

  • Change happens rapidly.

Formal training needs to be saved for the moments when it is necessary, which is, admittedly, not often.

We should be replacing training with knowledge sharing opportunities: peer to peer, top-down, formally documented, off the cuff, serious, fun, all kinds.

With the right learning solutions in place, you can create a shared sense of workplace culture and community while allowing people to find the right information at the right time, to upskill when it's appropriate, and to feel invested in both consuming and creating learning at your organization.

An Example

Let's say you work at an IT firm, and your senior engineers have to train the junior engineers, but no one has time.

Occasionally, new hires will get to shadow, but it can be difficult to schedule, so no two new engineers have exactly the same experience, but they likely-- at some point in their tenure with your organization-- have the same questions pop up.

Do you use formal training, like courses, in hopes that you'll cover it all, that someone will have the time to update (things change quickly in the IT field), and that the new hire will remember when it's time to actually use it in months from now?

Doesn't sound like a very convincing solution, does it?

Well... what about a searchable database of tutorials and work out loud sessions recorded by senior engineers on the job-- one that could be accessed at the point of need?

What about an easy to find knowledge base full of checklists, workflow maps, and project notes that lays out the step by step basis for how to complete the job?

What about a social flashcard system that helps team members collaboratively study for certification tests?

What about stories from senior engineers about their biggest lessons learned on the job?

Sounds a bit more effective, right?

If you agree, then you're already seeing the value in knowledge sharing.

How to Support Knowledge Sharing

What I love about these solutions is that they encourage team members to take ownership over the learning and for all parties-- not just L&D-- to organically contribute to capturing and sharing institutional knowledge. It serves to build a more collaborative work environment and more positive work culture overall.

But of course, knowing how to get started, knowing how to structure the learning ecosystem to encourage positive organic growth, creating frameworks and models for content development, these are the things not everyone knows how to do.

And that is where Your Instructional Designer steps in. We design the experience for impact, support our clients through implementation, and consult as needed to make sure they're successful in using these non-traditional approaches to L&D.

To wrap this up, I'll leave you with this...

If you're in implementing these knowledge sharing solutions, you can do three things to set your organization up for success:

  • allow for a significant needs analysis -- What structures, systems, and tools will best suit your organizational and learner needs?

  • audit available content -- What can you leverage? What do you need?

  • find your internal influencers -- Who will be your change agents and champions?


If you're ready to embrace a more effective, efficient model of learning and development at your organization, we're ready to support you.

Contact Your Instructional Designer to kickstart knowledge sharing.

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