One of our customers, a well known and respected player in the telecommunications marketspace, recently came under new management. Both the old and new management have their own ideas of what ‘employee values’ means. Further, there are local norms and values to which we can assume most (but not necessarily all) local employees subscribe to. We’ve been tasked with providing an e-learning module which will essentially convey employee values as outlined by new management to everyone in the company, including all future hires. At the same time, we need to be careful that we don’t stray too far from old, established values, as that may lead to negative perceptions about values the company had espoused to all along. This may cause confusion in the ranks, or alienation when it comes to lifelong employees.
What are some of the things that need to be taken into account before starting your instructional design for such a course? What things are needed, and what things will help?
Manager buy-in: Actually, a better term is probably ‘stakeholder buy-in’. It is very difficult to implement something and expect results if there are no metrics involved. Even if metrics are involved, some sort of compensation/reward/benefit/drawback system needs to be in place. This acts as encouragement for compliance to, and acceptance of, the change. Without stakeholder buy-in, you are essentially asking someone to do or accept something without giving reasons.
Clarity: What is the program for? Why are you teaching values? One reason we have been asked to create a training module on values is so that everyone in the company is on the same page. Sales should know about reducing waste, something that may be associated with procurement. Procurement should know about customer satisfaction, something that may be associated with sales. The company will take less hits on more fronts if everyone has the same goals, vision and values to aspire to. The work of one team will not be misaligned against (and will therefore not hinder) the work of any other team.
Getting things right: In addition to getting everyone on board and being clear about what the purpose of the training is, you have to be very careful when it comes to implementation. If there is a time constraint, it is difficult to come up with the perfect solution right off the bat. Companies that have shown flexibility when it comes to implementation have very often been able to adapt to change more effectively than companies who cannot maneuver as easily. Dry runs, beta versions, concept testing and feedback sessions should be used so that you can make necessary changes before finalizing the program.
In summary, dealing with concepts such as values, morals, attitude and behavior is a very tricky business. E-learning modules are great in the sense that they can be easily tweaked, and running trials is easy. Feedback and data collection is also a lot easier. However, instilling ideas or values in a company is something that is not confined to one department or one team. Everyone needs to be on board, and so working together and carefully planning your implementation strategy are key.