I’m Glad Millennials Scare Learning and Development Part 2Part 1 discussed how the rush to understand millennials isn’t really about millennials. It’s a crisis of outdated Learning and Development (L&D) practices. This time I want to take a look at five of those practices and why they don’t work.

Practice 1: Treating Learning as a One-Time Event

It isn’t reasonable to expect anyone to remember something from a course they took six months ago and haven’t heard a word about since then.

This is especially true if they had information thrown at them all at once in a single, content-dense sitting. Information overload is not a good thing.

Practice 2: Confusing “Professional” and “Dull”

There’s no requirement that says “professional” training has to be “dull.”

They’re two separate things. Gamification advocate Karl Kapp summed it up nicely, “We have stripped learning modules of humanity and replaced it with policy, terminology and models…It would be a breath of fresh air if our learning modules borrowed from games and put the critical element of emotion back into learning.”

Practice 3: Picking a Solution Before Investigating the Problem

Saying, “Let’s make some training” before looking into the cause of a performance issue is like saying, “My car isn’t starting. It needs a new battery” without even testing it.

You might be right. But if you’re not, you’re going to waste a lot of time and money on something that isn’t going to fix the problem. And then you’ll have to take additional time and spend additional money to actually fix it.

Practice 4: Leaving Learners Out of the Process

You know that awkward feeling you get when someone gives you a gift you really don’t need or want, let alone like? That’s pretty much what this is.

When learners are left out it opens the door to lots of complications. The training might not reflect the reality of a job. It could be downright difficult to use or understand. The list goes on.

Practice 5: Ignoring Problems

There’s probably no better way to make a problem worse than to ignore it.

Not only is the situation likely to keep crumbling, it’s probably going to cause morale damage too. If the people on the ground can see the problem and know it isn’t being addressed, that effectively gives them the impression that the organization doesn’t care. And if it doesn’t care, why should they? That creates a whole new set of problems.

Some of these are intentional practices, but a lot of them “just happen.” Regardless of whether the goal is to do something faster, cheaper, or “the way it’s always been done” an outdated practice is an outdated practice. The silver lining is that this leaves lots of room for improvement for those who are willing to work toward it.

Keep an eye open for Part 3. That’s going to dive into five practices that actually work.


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