Ann McDonald, VP of Talent Development, Mimeo
Each year before I read the new State of L&D results, I go back and review my intro from the previous year to see what common themes really stuck out for me. After I revisit the intro, I then take a few minutes to review my accomplishments from the previous year to reflect on how I was able to leverage the survey results in achieving my team goals.
I do this exercise for a few reasons before diving into the new information. First, it’s always good to go back and take a look at everything accomplished in the prior twelve months. It’s the perfect reminder for me to give my lean but mean L&D team a shout-out of thanks for all that they accomplished over the course of the year. Since year after year our survey shows that the majority of participants are part of what is classified as a “small” team (fewer than 10 people) and struggle with some of the same challenges that I do, such as limited budget and time, it gives me comfort to know that I am not alone in needing to achieve big goals through small teams and limited resources.
The second reason I conduct my annual ritual of revisiting last year’s content is to contemplate how I can be better at using the survey results to drive real action, instead of just reading it as an informational piece of interest. I accomplish this by getting a clear picture of my biggest need, gap or priority before reading the survey. This in turn helps me find information that will support my goals, or will help me to think more critically about my priorities.
For example, last year, rolling out a new Instructor-Led-Training (ILT) leadership program was at the top of my priority list, and with that in mind, I was able to leverage information that focused on the more “human touch” elements of the survey results. Last year, 100% of survey participants indicated that they used face-to-face ILT as their most popular method of delivery, which directly supported my goals of rolling out an ILT program. It’s hard to build a case against a method that 100% of my L&D peers were getting behind, so it made it easy for me to commit to that approach for my method of delivery.
This year however, ILT dipped to 93%, indicating that although it is still the reigning champion, there are people in our space who are leveraging less formal instructional methods more often. My take away from this change in statistic is that we humans are still a long way off from being replaced, which is great news for us, but that we are becoming more open to exploring alternative ways to delivering training so that it is more accessible and sustainable.
One of my big needs in the upcoming year is a better method for delivering more self-serve content and job aids to a larger portion of our population. Having this in mind going into reading the survey results helped me to focus more on input and results around trends in technology and what other L&D professionals are currently using or are planning to implement.
I was not surprised to see that video learning remains the number one method of leveraging technology, but I was particularly interested in hearing where chatbots are on everyone’s radar. As chatbots seem to be this year’s industry buzzword, I was surprised to see that it was cited as being the least-used technology, coming in at only 2% usage. At the same time, that may mean that chatbots are showing up this year as the next up-and-comer; it will be interesting to see if there is a big jump in that metric next year. After all, last year the percentage of participants planning to implement augmented or virtual reality only hit 10% when this year we saw a big jump to 24% of respondents planning to implement AR or VR in the next two years. So the 2% of you currently leveraging chatbots may be our trendsetters for next year!
The final way I plan to leverage this year’s report is to help build the case for what my L&D department of the future will look like. When asked how L & D roles and trends will change in the future one word that was used over and over again was “Virtual.” Specifically, training methods such as “virtual learning” and “immersive virtual reality,” and titles such as “virtual trainer,” “virtual classroom expert,” and “virtual content developer,” were all future trend speculations. This tells me that as leaders in the L&D industry, we have a deep understanding that it is incumbent on us to find more ways to reach more people while still maintaining a degree of human touch, even if it is done in a “virtual” capacity.
I hope you enjoy this year’s report and at the very least find it to be an interesting informational read, but before diving in, I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on your past year’s accomplishments and visualize your upcoming needs and priorities so that you can create a strategy to leverage this information to achieve your L & D goals.