Learning Paths

October/November 2012

Dear clients,

I am sure you are all involved in the usual mad rush

towards the end of the year and that nerves are

frayed and energy levels close to empty! We cannot

offer any cure for this condition, aside from stating

our unwavering support and assistance.

Since the previous LeMaSa Chronicle landed in your

inboxes, LeMaSa has been very busy – I attended a

Learning Path certification workshop and am now

ready to assist you with this crucial aspect of your

organisation’s Learning and Development strategy.

I also assisted with the design and piloting of an

assessment centre to select candidates for a

graduate programme. We also finalised the roll-out

of an assessment centre for Sales Managers on

E-valuation, the electronic platform that LeMaSa runs

Assessments from.

In this edition of the LeMaSa Chronicle we briefly

discuss the learning path concept as well as the

structure of an effective mentoring programme.

We wish you all the best for the last bit of 2012!

Warm regards

Sandra Schlebusch

Learning Paths
Learning Paths

Learning Paths is a business performance improvement approach to learning, originally developed by Steve Rosenbaum and described in the book Learning Paths (authored by Steve and Jim Williams in 2004). It has been proven to reduce time to proficiency by 30 to 50 percent in more than 400 job functions, increasing business results and productivity while also increasing employee engagement.

A Learning Path is the chronological series of activities, events and experience that goes from Day 1 to Proficiency. We define proficiency as the measurable outcome and observable behaviour of doing a job or task correctly at the desired level of performance. Once we have a definition of proficiency, we can determine current time to proficiency and set a goal of reducing time to proficiency by at least 30%.

Arupa Tesolin, Managing Executive and Certification Leader at Learning Paths International, describes the Learning Path concept as follows in an art icle in Training Magazine (August 2012): “Rather than measure the effectiveness of training, Learning Paths measure actual business results. Rather than designing courses and courseware, Learning Paths design performance in a streamlined content development process. This enables training to happen at the speed of business with higher levels of productivity, performance, and revenues”. Many of the traditional elements of training that reduce time and add variability, waste, and costs to the training process, are removed. The result is a stripped-down approach that has been proven to be much more effective.

The Learning Path becomes a planned learning experience that starts on the first day an employee begins to work in a designated job. It contains an optimised sequence of all the correct formal and informal learning activities designed to create full performance on that job. This includes reviews and coaching. Everything is tracke d and mo nitored, so no one falls off the Learning Path. What’s missing is a lot of unnecessary courses, long periods of trial and error, a highly variable training experience from person-to-person, and a heap of lost time and productivity. All results and performance measures relate directly to the business results for that employee in that department. Because employees do more real work sooner, and can see the results of their learning, they experience higher levels of confidence and skill earlier and they are happier. They feel more valued when they know what their training is. Training no longer needs to be “proven” because everyone—employees, trainers and managers—can see the results directly and have the numbers to back it up”.

The first Learning Paths Certification Workshop in South Africa will be presented from 27 – 28 November in Gauteng.

Framework for a Structured Mentoring Programme
In today’s challenging environment it is critical for companies to attract, develop and retain the right talent to ensure the sustainability of the business. Current events in the world show that it will be even tougher in future and to ensure growth companies will have to ensure excellence in all aspects. An important element of excellence is competent people. Technical skills form the basis of competence, but workplace experience, practical implementation of theory and a broader knowledge of the business are crucial to ensure that employees are able to make a positive contribution. Mentoring is a key element in ensuring that talent is engaged and committed and therefore less likely to leave the company. It has also been linked conclusively to increased performance. Experience has proved that a structured mentoring programme delivers better results than an unstructured programme. LeMaSa usually manages programmes for clients in terms of the following five phases: Phase 1: Planning and Preparation In this phase the purpose of the programme is clarified and top management support obtained through the presentation of a clear business case. It is also important to prepare the relevant role players and to identify critical capabilities and competencies. These critical capabilities and competencies provide valuable guidelines for individual growth and development and ensure that the mentorship programme is aligned with company strategy. The total mentoring process is also mapped, e.g. the selection of mentors and mentees, the administration and monitoring of the programme. The change management programme to support the mentoring process is designed, e.g. branding of the mentorship programme and communication strategies to create awareness of the programme and its benefits in the company. ROI measures should also be identified upfront to ensure a meaningful impact assessment of the programme. Phase 2: Selection and Orientation a) Mentee Selection and Orientation The process could typically be structured as follows: · Certain employees select participation on the Mentorship Programme as one of the development strategies on their PDP (Personal Development Plan). · They complete the Mentorship Application Form and submit it to the Mentorship Coordinator. · The Mentorship Coordinator facilitates the selection process based on criteria as determined by the company, e.g. clarity of mentorship goals, alignment with company strategy, relevance of mentorship as a development tool with regards to development objective, etc. · The Mentorship Coordinator informs the employee of the outcome of the selection. · Selected employees attend a mentee orientation session to learn more about mentoring and how to select an appropriate mentor. · The mentee chooses a few possible mentors either from the provided pool or own selection. · The mentee approaches the selected mentors in order of preference. If the first choice declines request, the next is approached and so on. · The mentee informs the Mentorship Coordinator who will act as mentor for him/her. b) Mentor Selection and Capacity Building Potential mentors who apply for inclusion in the mentor pool are required to complete a detailed biographical questionnaire so that mentees will be able to form a complete picture of the value that they can get from a specific mentor. This information is made available electronically on a “Facebook” type website or other methods applicable in the relevant organisation. Tutoring might be used to up-skill the mentors. Tutoring is an age-old practice and we are all familiar with the concept in secondary and tertiary education. Phase 3: Skill-building and Contracting a) Mentor/Mentee training LeMaSa recommends that mentors and mentees first attend the following training to ensure successful completion of the programme: • Training of the mentors (1 day) The aim of this is to provide the mentor with the necessary knowledge and skills to be a mentor. • Training of the mentees (1 day) The aim of this training is to equip the mentees to gain the most from the mentoring relationship. b) Contracting/Bonding Session The purpose of this session is to clarify roles and expectations, facilitate relationship building and to finalise the formal mentoring contract. LeMaSa has designed a unique workshop based on discovery learning called the Mentoring Game™ that involves the mentor/mentee pairs competing with each other during the workshop day. Phase 4: Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation The mentorship programme usually has a duration of 12 to 18 months, depending on the objectives of the specific mentee. LeMaSa recommends the following activities during this phase: a) Mentor Power Hour sessions The Power Hour approach to development entails a series of 60 minute learning conversations over a specific period. The purpose of the Power Hour training is to give added value to the mentors and to build a pool of dedicated and highly effective mentors. Each Power Hour session delivers skills and knowledge that the mentors can use at a particular point in the mentoring process. For example, a training Session on Developmental Planning may be delivered as the mentees are working on their Mentoring Action Plans. Thus, the mentors could build skills that would increase their effectiveness just-in-time throughout the mentoring programme. Power Hours offer a way to ensure a lively and productive dialogue about the concepts of mentoring and also provides the mentors with specific tools and techniques. Power Hours is a concept that respects the precious nature of time and allow busy mentors to engage in dialogue that makes a difference and improve the level of connection they have with their mentees. LeMaSa recommends one Power Hour session per month. Some of the suggested topics are: How to mentor Generation Y The new millennium worker Career management Become an individual centre of excellence Gaining from failure Organisation Politics Networking Success Topics as identified by Vodacom Mentees and mentors must meet at least once per month. b) Quarterly Group Sessions/Mentoring Forums The focus of these forums is to enhance skills and competencies. The forums also allow the mentees to draw on the experiences of the larger mentor group, providing them more opportunities for growth and enabling them to gain a broader perspective of the organisation. It also helps to ensure the momentum of the programme. c) Monitoring and Governance Systems The following monitoring and governance systems should be put in place to ensure the success of the mentoring programme: Steering Committee. A steering committee consisting of representatives from the project owners, mentors, mentees, the Mentorship Coordinator and training provider will meet on a bi-monthly basis to: - Monitor the progress of the programme - Identify and discuss barriers to effectiveness - Review mentee achievement - Confirm the project plan and make changes if necessary - Review the quality of the training - Deal with any issues that might impact on the success of the project Quarterly follow–up sessions. The aim of the contact session is to review the mentee’s progress, identify individual barriers and to take corrective action. Monthly reports. All mentees are expected to complete a monthly report on their learning, perceived barriers and what assistance they need. This is signed by the mentor and then forwarded to the mentorship Coordinator. b) Quarterly Evaluations Mentors and Mentees complete a behavioural assessment tool known as a 360 multi-rater assessment tool. Each participant receives confidential and personalised reports as an output of these web-based assessment tools. Feedback provides mentors and mentees an opportunity to target developmental needs and develop effective mentoring action plans. Phase 5: Closure and Impact Assessment a) Mentor Assessment Mentors could choose to obtain a certificate of competence or a certificate of participation at the end of the programme. If the mentor requires a certificate of competence, assessment will be an inherent part of the programme and includes formative and summative assessment. The formative assessment will be built into the programme and mentors will be expected to complete assessments before, during and after the training. It will include many forms of assessment e.g. tests, individual projects, simulations, work-based assignments and observation, case studies, etc. b) Certification At the end of the mentoring period, the mentee receives a certificate detailing the development objectives achieved during the process. c) Impact Assessment LeMaSa could assist organisations with a detailed impact assessment, including ROI if required.