Mind the gap – maintaining learning away from the classroom.

Leadership development can be a considerable investment in time and money.  There is often a temptation to extend the perceived life of this investment by delivering programmes over long timetables, with extended gaps between the formal, classroom-based learning elements.  Instantly a 12 month programme becomes an 18 or 24 month programme, and the cost doesn’t seem so bad after all!

Whilst the logic is understandable, it is all too often counter-productive without additional investment in the ongoing engagement of the learners.  When faced with a large gap before they are brought back into a classroom (or any other ‘formal’) environment, the focus on learning quickly dissipates.

Whilst extended spacing of the classroom-based learning elements in a development programme can be successful, consider carefully your strategy for learner engagement.

Support structure

  • Do you have in place a support structure that can be readily accessed by all learners on an ongoing basis?
  • Are you pro-actively and regularly reaching out to offer support to learners on an individual and group basis?
  • Support isn’t just a job for the programme delivery team – are your key business stakeholders engaged and involved?

Collaborative platforms

  • Are you offering mechanisms for the learning community to interact with each other and the programme?
  • Are you actively encouraging and promoting their benefits and use?
  • Are business stakeholders taking an active interest, preferably through participation, in collaboration between learners?

Challenge

  • Are you regularly testing the application of learning in the workplace?
  • How are you measuring the ongoing impact of the learning?
  • Are you using Action Learning Sets or group coaching to encourage peer challenge?

Behavioural focus

  • Does your learning primarily focus on knowledge transfer or encourage actual behavioural change?
  • What are you asking people to do, and how are your responding if they fail to honour their commitments?
  • How are you preparing the rest of the business for the new behaviours exhibited by your learners?  Will they act as a catalyst or barrier to change?

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