Learning and Development Philosophy: Developing an Approach

Do you have formal learning and development philosophy? Before saying you don’t have time, hear why it will help you create a high-impact.

Learning and Development Philosophy

Does this sound like a familiar scenario? Your marketing team has developed a new promotion and informs you about it two weeks before it launches. They are so excited about it, and they want your help in training employees on how to communicate it to and offer it to customers.

You sigh as you realize that you’re in reaction mode once again. You’ve got to scramble to put together training content so you can get it out to employees with enough time for them to digest it and be knowledgeable during customer conversations. You also know marketing is going to want to see results. You cross your fingers and hope that what you end up slapping together will be effective. Why does this keep happening?

Dr. John Zurovchak, Ph.D. and Head of Global Training and Strategy at Restaurant Brands International, Inc. (RBI), asserts that what you need is a formal learning and development philosophy and methodology. But before you shake your head and say you don’t have time, John puts forth a convincing rationale as to why it will not only solve your fire drill problems, but will also help you develop a high-impact learning organization.

Do you have a learning and development philosophy strategy?

Most L&D organizations are reactive and are often brought in too late, which makes it difficult to be effective. You may be doing excellent work in producing materials and getting people trained but you know you could be doing so much more. John recommends being mindful and purposeful in developing a learning and development strategy and an overall employee training philosophy. Without a strategy, you will continue to be stuck on the treadmill of reaction.

What does your organization think about L&D?

Your learning and development philosophy is simply the way your organization thinks about L&D. That may sound obvious to you, but John says that it’s not always obvious to the rest of your company and your cross-functional teams. Formalizing and communicating this philosophy ensures that everyone is on the same page about the importance of L&D to critical programs, initiatives, products/services, launches, etc. across your company.

John offers the framework of the L&D philosophy at his company as an example:

Pillar 1

Apply the science of learning: understand the most effective ways that people can be trained like interleaving or mixing different forms of training to facilitate learning.

Pillar 2

Leverage positive psychology: understand how the brain operates to encourage changes in behavior, the disposition toward the environment, and the ability to learn. Science shows that when people feel positive, they retain more information when they learn.

Pillar 3

Use behavioralism: individual, observable behaviors that can be quantified and measured across proficiency.

Pillar 4

Rely on methodology: having a formal, repeatable process for training and learning.

Learning and Development Philosophy

What is your L&D process?

John says don’t freak out about the word “methodology.” When you’re working with cross-functional teams tell them you have a repeatable process. It’s simply the way that you initiate and implement training and learning. It’s key that you communicate early and often what your process is so that everybody understands the value it brings to L&D programs.

Here’s the methodology his L&D organization uses:

  • Business readiness: In order for L&D programs to be successful, teams need to know what’s coming. Let them know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and when it’s happening.
  • Training strategy and deliverables: This is the content that is the heart of your L&D programs and likely what you’re already doing very well.
  • Role-based support: Make sure those around the employees being trained know about the training. Design the materials for people who supervise employees being trained so they can provide support.
  • Measure success: John’s L&D organization uses Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation model. Be sure to define what success looks like and what indicators you are going to aim to change.

A key takeaway that John emphasizes is the learning and development philosophy and methodology his organization uses is just one example—it’s vital that whatever you use is designed to fit your team and organization. The bottom line, however, is having a formal learning and development philosophy and methodology will be the difference between reacting and impacting.