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Compliance Training: Cheers or Jeers?

Chief Learning Officer columnist Bob Mosher gets where compliance training comes from. And he also also understand the unrealistic expectations regulatory folks put on learning leaders.

compliance training, regulationsIf you said the words compliance training to your employees, what would their reaction be? Would they jump for joy, smile, roll their eyes, or run for the hills?

This issue has been the 800-pound gorilla in our industry for years now. I’ve done some informal surveying of late in the health care and banking industries, and three common reactions emerged: everyone thought compliance training was a complete waste of time; everyone had figured out how to “get through” it as quickly as possible; worse, none felt they learned anything making them feel more compliant on the job. Now, these are only three reactions; not all compliance training is bad. But we can do a lot better.

I get where compliance training comes from. As a consumer of many of the products where compliance is mandated, I’m happy some degree of compliance is required. I also understand the unrealistic expectations regulatory folks can put on us. Often we feel like our hands are tied. But my greater concern is whether we’ve created a learning solution for a problem that’s not truly being fixed.

For the most part, we’ve created an event-based solution for a workflow/performance problem. Compliance is not measured at a point in time, it’s demonstrated throughout the lifetime of employment. Yes, it’s important to get up to speed on knowledge, to demonstrate a certain level of understanding around compliance issues, but performing in a compliant way happens in the workflow; that’s where our solutions need to target.

Many of you have heard me talk about Dr. Conrad Gottfredson’s Five Moments of Need learning model. This approach challenges us to develop solutions that not only meet a training need, but also include a workflow support component. With the advent of new technologies, our ability to design compliance learning solutions across these five moments is better than ever. This approach will never completely replace compliance training, but it will have a significant impact on what format that training takes.

We need to take a closer look at the tools and methodologies emerging in workflow learning such as performance support and adaptive learning. These tools are not designed as training solutions, but rather as ways to guide, support and reassess employees at the appropriate moment of performance need, as they navigate the workflow. These assets can include job aids, standard operating procedures, instructional videos, e-learning, even access to peers and coaches. This discipline has been around a long time, and it has long been limited to IT or system support, but with the advent of newer technologies such as mobile devices, performance support can easily accommodate many softer skill training areas such as safety, leadership and onboarding, to name a few.

Adaptive learning is a technology-based approach that uses human interaction to adapt learning content to an individual based on rigorous behavior algorithms. The ideal approach is highly personalized and considers the user’s prior knowledge. It manages cognitive load effectively, not overloading the user with vast amounts of information. These systems use spaced repetition to allow time for practice, which aids long-term memory, and they recognize and fight the forgetting curve, which is unique by topic or by person, tailoring assistance based on each individual’s performance needs.

Adaptive learning pushes relevant learning to the individual when it is needed. When this approach is married with training and performance support, the overall solution offers measurable support well beyond an event-based strategy. Further, these systems are fully trackable, and provide the performance-based analytics we’ve been chasing in our profession for years.

This isn’t a pipe dream. There are organizations doing this right now, and they are being recognized for it. I recently spoke with a learning leader from a hospital who just received the best practice award from the Joint Commission, their highest honor. The award was not for their training or event-based options, but for their performance support platform.

The tools and methodologies are out there. It’s up to us to adopt them and elevate compliance training to a whole new level.

Bob Mosher is a senior partner and chief learning evangelist for APPLY Synergies, a strategic consulting firm. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.

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