How to Stay On Top of L&D Trends: Crystal Hyde Interview

KPMG Learning expert Crystal Hyde shares in this interview how to stay on top of L&D trends and have a fruitful career in learning and development.

Published on 22 March, 2016 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
Welcome to the Future of LD 1

For Crystal Hyde, corporate L&D is more than a profession: it’s a calling.

In the midst of a master’s in teaching, Crystal started as an instructional designer at AT&T in 2008 and knew immediately that, “L&D was absolutely the place for me.” The feeling was so strong that she called her school to change her major to focus on the corporate educational world.

By 2014, she was named an Emerging Training Leader to Watch by Training Magazine. Now she is an Associate Director for Learning & Development at KPMGUS, leading in the energy and industrial manufacturing sectors.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Crystal and find out about her passion for L&D.

How did your starting point as an instructional designer help as you moved to a role with more fingers in the pot?

I came in at the bottom and have worked my way up. As an instructional designer at AT&T, I pushed vendor-produced shared content objects (SCOs) through an assembly-line process. We would capture information from SCOs, put together what we called storyboards based on the content, create assessment questions based on the learning objectives, and then set it up into a proprietary learning content management system. Each small piece could be used as part of a larger course that could then be customized by using different objects within the repository.   After that project was finished, I moved to a more traditional instructional designer role where I updated existing eLearning modules created in various tools including Adobe Captivate, facilitated virtual Lunch N’ Learns using Adobe Connect, and created and updated Facilitator and Participant guides for Instructor Lead Learning solutions.

At that point, I was seeing my cog in my wheel but I couldn’t see the L&D machine as a whole. It is really helpful to have had that experience because now I can understand the perspective of instructional designers when I work with them.

In 2011, you moved to an instructional designer role at BP. How did the new company change your perspective?

The position at BP really opened up my world into learning project management from end-to-end, including working directly with the business to understand needs and proposing fit-for-purpose learning solutions. I began utilizing  performance management principles.  I was asking more about the problem and exploring various techniques that could be utilized to stop gaps, not just training.Then I’d go back to the client to gain buy-in for solutions and oversee the implementation and evaluation.

At that point, Crystal sensed that there was more she could learn about the L&D world outside of the office. She decided to join and contribute to a local professional chapter and pursue her CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance). Through that learning experience, she was pushed to step into the role of every member of the Learning Function (LMS Administrator, Course Facilitator, L&D Manager, etc.) to understand the terminology, tasks and challenges facing each role.

One of the common themes in your career through AT&T, BP, and now at KPMG is your passion for learning technologies. How do you tell which trends are fleeting and which are here to stay?

From a development perspective, my main litmus test is how easy the tool is to use. If it’s not intuitive, I lose interest. Fancy platforms with animations will force you to keep training everyone who comes on the team over time to learn how to use the tool. There needs to be an easy way for developers to keep content up-to-date. It is important that you won’t be stranded three years down the line when the person who knew how to use the tool for that tech is no longer there. That said, I don’t believe that any latest and greatest ‘technology’ is bad or that any of the recent fads really die. Each technology-based solution has its place and they all become a part of our toolkit. Your task is to figure out what works for you and your team and what tool makes it easy to implement that technology.

From a learner perspective, I lean towards my personal preferences for learning. I fear the dreaded 8-hour lecture. I don’t like sitting through long speeches or boring online sessions. Instead, I enjoy experiential learning and small-bites learning like looking something up on YouTube. Because of that, I shy away from more traditional methods and try to bring something new for people that is meaningful.

Welcome to the Future of L&D

What new initiatives are you focusing on now?

I am working on a new strategy to go beyond a course and build a collaborative social learning environment with courses and resources embedded as part of the overall learning experience. I organize resources and feed them to the learners over time so that it’s digestible. I am utilizing nano-learning and videos to keep the learners engaged and help tee-up more traditional learning experiences.

None of your courses are mandatory for your learners. How do you encourage participation?

It’s an old saying that you can’t train motivation, but I’m of the school of thought that it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t incentivize learning or make your learning exciting and engaging enough that it supports self-motivation. My audience is mostly CPAs who are very busy professionally and also have to earn a certain number of CPE credits each year to keep up their certification. The nano-learning that I’m creating is not yet CPE-accreditable. That means I need to work hard to make what I provide to them worth their time.

One way we are looking at doing that is through gamification. If you make training fun and even competitive, learners are more likely to participate. On top of that, gamification gives both internal and external validation. By adding rewards like badges and certifications, you give those high-performers an incentive to keep going to the next level.

What advice do you have for the aspiring young professionals entering the L&D work world now?

Be motivated to teach yourself and learn from others. Then, figure out how to filter through all of the noise to identify what learning will help you perform your current job more easily. Filter again for the role you want next. Try out the self-assessment tool on the ATD site to help identify what piece of competency you can work on this year to improve your L&D skills. This kind of reflection has  really helped me focus. Plus, as a hiring manager, when I see you have a course or certificate that aligns with where you are and where you want to go next, it shows me that you are dedicated to this career and that you already know a lot of what you need to know.

For more from Crystal, check back soon for her post “How to Get Your Idea Off the Ground.”

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