Making a Real Impact with Learning

Students Hiding There Face With Question Mark Sign, uncertainty I was recently working with a new client on applying Situational Leadership® II in his organization. I suggested as a first step he meet with each of his direct reports to get clear on their goals.

“But I already know each person’s goals,” he said. “We all always have goals. In fact, we just did a midyear review to make sure all the goals are still on target. How on earth would people know how they are supposed to be spending their time if they didn’t have their goals?”

I had to laugh and answered, “You’d be surprised how many managers out there are not at all clear about their own goals, let alone their peoples’ goals.”

He was absolutely appalled at the idea that anyone would try to achieve anything in an organization without clear goals. Goals aren’t important only for helping people prioritize their time; having goals and becoming more successful at reaching them are key motivators for learning new skills and trying on new behaviors.

There is so much excitement about elearning—but engagement and completion are a real issue. MOOCs (massive open online courses) may have record attendance, but no one is really talking about the fact that completion rates are somewhere around 3 percent. Online learning is proving to be extremely successful in the university setting, and I would submit that’s because attendance and online module completion is mandatory for a degree. In organizations, however, learning competes for precious resources: time and bandwidth. The only way to win with learning in an organizational setting is to somehow hook into each individual learner’s inherent motivation to make the effort by making the learning experience immediately, bracingly relevant to success on the job. How to do this? We’ve had good results with Impact Mapping.

The Impact Map, widely used in Blanchard programs, is a highly useful management tool developed by Robert O. Brinkerhoff. It provides a big picture view, or “line of sight,” of what an individual’s department and company are trying to achieve and connects what a person is learning to the behaviors needed to be successful in the job role. It also allows the tracking of learning alongside the job by adding action items that are meant to put learning to use at work immediately.

It isn’t hard to create an Impact Map, but it does take some thought and a little footwork. Allow me to detail the components of an effective Impact Map.

  • Organizational Goals are the most important goals everyone in the organization is working to accomplish within a certain time frame. They provide the big picture direction of where the organization is headed.
  • Departmental Goals are the key goals the department is trying to achieve so that it can best contribute to the overall goals of the organization.
  • Key Results are those items that are the mission critical focus for any specific job role.
  • Critical Actions and Observable Behaviors are what the exemplars or most successful people in the specific responsibility area use to achieve the Key Results. They also paint a clear picture of what a good job looks like for people in that role.
  • Individual Goals are generated for each learning experience. Individuals can map their learnings and new behaviors to everything else on the map, creating a compelling alignment.

You may find in your organization that organizational or departmental goals aren’t as clear as they could be. Possibly, individuals aren’t at all sure about expected outcomes. Just answering the questions that arise during the creation of an Impact Map will result in a healthier organization.

Blanchard Online Learning offers dozens of lessons and tools that are focused on development. Adding the Impact Map to the mix is a differentiator for us because it aligns the learning journey with what is relevant to everyday work. It is much more compelling for workers to spend time in the lessons, learning and practicing new skills, when they know it will make them more successful on the job.

Now if I could only find a tool like this to help my high-schooler find the motivation to learn algebra!


Editor’s Note:  This is the third in a 3-part series by Madeleine Blanchard, co-founder of Blanchard Online Learning.  Madeleine’s first two posts looked at eLearning – 8 Ways to Set the Expectation for Involvement and eLearning: Make It Social For Best Results—5 Ways to Support Change. To learn more about the Blanchard approach to designing high impact online training, join us for a free webinar on September 10. That’s when Scott Blanchard will be presenting on Building Effective and Engaging Online Learning Solutions.

2 thoughts on “Making a Real Impact with Learning

  1. Reblogged this on Lead Me On and commented:
    This is a great piece about online learning and leadership development — a project I’m very passionate about, as a teacher and as a coach. This is a powerful tool — if used in an engaging way — to support active, self-paced learning and build virtual community! I appreciate the way the blog applies the learning potential to setting, clarifying and supporting goals.

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