I am sure this is stating the obvious, but first, you must have organizational goals! In addition having goals, those goals and objectives need to be specific and measurable. Most large organizations have mastered the skill of setting organizational goals. They are pretty good at communicating those goals to the employees. Where the process tends to break down is when individual employees look at those goals and then ask themselves, "where do I fit into this plan"?
Goals are one thing; having a strategy to achieve the goals is another.
In our organization, we have goals to improve our marketing efforts and to communicate more effectively with potential clients. We want to share a specific message that we feel will help clients create more effective learning. Those goals are pretty vague. But they are a start. In our attempt to achieve these goals we resorted to what we already know how to do. We thought an email campaign was a good place to start. So we composed some emails and shared them with a relatively large number of people who have shared their email addresses with us in the past. We write about things we know and what "we" feel is important. We share our thoughts with the network on LinkedIn. We are debating about creating some ads on Facebook or LinkedIn. Twitter was another tool that we thought we could leverage. We wanted to reach out to others on LinkedIn who we felt may want to hear the message. We got a relatively good response to all of the above. But we have no real way to know if what we are doing is yielding results. We get positive written and verbal feedback but are unable to tie any success with anything we doing from a marketing perspective. In addition, other feedback says that the message is interesting, but not compelling and a bit muddled. Employees wanted to share the message but each had their own idea of what aspects of the message were important. And there were employees who simply were not excited about the message.
This encouraged us to sit down and evaluate our approach. The first conclusion we came to was that we did not have a well-defined strategy for marketing our message and to be honest, we did not have a clear message. Our goals were clear, but our message for communicating those goals to our customers and internally to our own staff was lacking. The message seemed clear enough to us because we were close to the project. In addition, we did not define any metrics for success nor any strategy for tracking metrics and making adjustments, based on the results. It seemed like we had a few of the pieces of the puzzle (or the strategy) but we did not have the full picture to see what the puzzle would look like when it was done. We were not seeing the beauty and appeal of the picture. In addition, there was no "what's in it for me" (WIIFM) element for those who wanted to share the picture.
What is so interesting about this story is that this is what we do for our clients. We encourage our clients to start the process of building learning programs with a clear strategy and a message that resonates with their employees. We want the employees to be clear "what's in it for me" (WIIFM). We want them to feel like learning is a tool to help them succeed at work and when they succeed, the organization succeeds. There is nothing more frustrating than being asked to take time away from work to engage in 'training' that, in the minds of some, serves no real purpose. Not only is it not helping the employee, there are times it may not be helping the organization. Even if employees feel like it may benefit them personally, is it helping move the organization closer to their goals? Or on the flip side, is the learning helping move the organization forward, but failing to benefit the employee?
Does your organization take the ad-hoc approach to learning or do they have a strategy that outlines the organizational goals clearly and then ties learning programs to those goals in a way that is mutually beneficial to the organization and the employee?
Back to the story... rather than trying to figure the marketing strategy on our own, we engaged professionals who know how to create a clear message and ensure that all marketing efforts are tied to that message with clear metrics for measuring success and adjusting our strategy, based on the results.
Our efforts to improve our marketing efforts and to communicate a specific message to clients in order to enable them to create more effective learning is now in the hands of the pros as they teach us how to make our goals reality in a way that benefits everyone.
Creating a Culture of Learning is a strategy development program that enables organizations to meet organizational goals by promoting learning that promotes success for everyone. Don't try to do it on your own!