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Digital Learning and Coaching need to join forces for Effective Employee Development

Digital learning has taken the world by storm because of its ability to deliver high-quality learning materials at scale in a range of configurations.  These digital learning environments allow for the person learning to pace the content in a way that works for them and purports to achieve much more personalization as a result.  This trend has certainly played out in the workplace as well when it comes to employee development, but too many companies see digital learning alone as a panacea.  We have to realize that digital learning on its own is not effective.  You have to go further than that.

Why Digital Learning Needs to be Combined with Coaching

It’s tempting to think that a digital learning platform can solve all your employee development problems, but if there is no support and accountability attached to the content, then it’s simply not going to be that effective in developing your employees.  It’s very easy to run through some pre-recorded material, cram your brain with the facts, and then pass the test to prove your supposed competence.

What is much more difficult is actively engaging with it, integrating it into your knowledge base, and then applying it in the real world.  This is where coaching is needed.  Good coaches are able to work with employees, understand their individual circumstances, and supply the necessary support to help them translate those learnings into practical actions that move the needle on their development.  The combination of coaching with digital learning is where all the magic happens, you can’t just rely on one or the other.

Bite-Sized Learning & Coaching

In order to be maximally effective, learning and coaching need to reflect on each other and be in pace with one another.  The best way to do this is by breaking things down into small chunks which creates fast feedback loops and therefore is much more efficiently retained.  It also is better suited to the modern concentration span which has been bifurcated by constant distraction.  This philosophy is certainly the way that a lot of digital learning is leaning, but we should be thinking about bite-sized coaching in the same way.

When we break coaching interactions down and reduce their scope – we can accomplish very short and sharp coaching experiences that deliver focused insights at the exact moment they are needed.  Again, this tight feedback loop helps to integrate the development at the time of learning and locks that in with the requisite coaching input.  You won’t find a more effective way to do it.

The only way to achieve this collaboration between the two pillars is through efficient use of new technology platforms that are on the cutting-edge of this potential.  One example of many might be an AI system that monitors how the learner is moving through the digital material and then matches them in real-time with the right coach based on what is needed at the time.  

The possibilities here are endless if we can leverage technology to combine digital learning and coaching.  On their own, they can only provide limited results.  But when they are combined in an integrated way, your employee development will be set up to truly transform your workplace.

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