Lessons on Teaching People to be Digital
In 2011 under the leadership of Text100’s Global Social and Digital Lead Jeremy Woolf, the company launched an innovative Digital Certification process intended to ensure all Text100 staff can make better use of digital channels and social networks. In what could well be an industry first, Text created a program that focused not only on training but on thought leadership, community skills development and consulting as part of a company-wide change management program.
Now a year down the track, Text100’s Global Talent Development Director Gabrielle Tourelle shares five key lessons from the company’s efforts to evolve its skills development program to meet its digital goal.
Lesson 1: Build in flexibility to compulsory systems
You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. We made our Digital Certification process compulsory for very good reasons and we stand by that. However, research frequently validates the human tendency towards deeper engagement with opt-in activities and our culture is generally one that prefers to trust, rather than over-control a situation.
We learned the importance of being compulsory yet flexible at the same time. The two can co-exist.
By making it compulsory we got the horse to water but the horse had to want to drink. So what happened next in terms of how deeply people participated in our program in its first year related to how intrinsically motivated they were, which reinforces the power of unlocking the psychological levers of participating in training. The “what’s in it for me” question from both a personal and professional perspective for the individual is a key driver in the organization’s success. We had a lot of thirsty horses or motivated staff with a staggering 92 percent of staff applying for Certification.
By having four tiers of certification (“adventurer”, “explorer”, “navigator” and “trailblazer”) we built in more flexibility within a compulsory model – you can still participate even if you are a beginner or an advanced player – experience is no barrier.
Lesson 2: Remember the Zuckerberg principle of Facebook is the new norm
We’ve been walking the talk with more videos, visuals and screen casting tools in our trainings. But as we embrace digital communications, I find we are constantly measuring against both the intuitive ease of Facebook and its popularity – both its social nature and design. Trying to measure up to Facebook is a steep standard to strive for with limited budgets and resources but it is what people expect now. Sure completing training feedback forms is not the same as socializing with friends on Facebook but people are now accustomed to the visual appeal and ease of Facebook and look for that in online support systems.
Lesson 3: Stay focused on the new but don’t forget the old
As we prioritized digital skills with a somewhat single-pointed focus, an interest in some of the more traditional skills development emerged. It was a reminder that the world did not change overnight and traditional PR skills are still critically important. There is no one-size-fits-all for organizations on how to do that, but being smart about how we blend the two worlds remains critical.
Lesson 4: Stay close to your communication specialists
Innovations in the use of social media in training have historically arrived on the communications and marketing scene first. Take the arrival of infographics or now gamification into training as the hot new trend. Arguably marketers embraced these trends first as being relevant to their audiences and then trainers spied their potential to help people collaborate and learn. There’s a buzz in training circles this month around the release of the new gamification book by Karl M. Kapp which promises to enlighten trainers on game-based training.
As a communications agency, our training approach is a collaborative effort with the company’s top digital consultants. This ensures we are in sync with what is happening with our marketing and communications specialists and being sped along by the passion of our trailblazers.
Lesson 5: Just as you arrive, so too you never arrive
The final goal is a moving target as the social and digital media spaces continue to evolve. You create your own milestones and events within an ever-changing landscape. We set out on a three year journey but we know the work does not stop when we get there, we will simply turn another corner. Along the journey you also need to take a few risks in deciding what tools and training to focus on. If you wait for all to become 100 percent clear or ready you will be left behind. Speed matters more than perfection in a digital learning environment.