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Coca-Cola Instructional Designer Envisions 21st Century Training

Jonathan Keith is the instructional designer and eLearning developer for Coca-Cola Enterprises. He works with internal business partners to analyze training needs, design and develop training solutions, and evaluate employee performance to support business development. You can contact him through LinkedIn.

Q. What is the greatest modern challenge in the training profession?

Employee engagement drives turnover and performance. As business consultants, training professionals can drive improvements in employee engagement which in turn will lead to better retention and employee performance.

Q. What makes current challenges so different from previous ones?

In our current economy, performance improvement is paramount. To stay competitive, businesses must find efficiencies. Reducing turnover adds value to the bottom line through reducing costs. Engaged employees perform more efficiently and effectively which drives both revenue and cost management.

Q. What are some technology trends today that will have an impact on tomorrow?

Aligning performance objectives with training through a talent management database allows companies to better manage how to keep an individual employee’s skills sharp. When you can marry that with a hand held device that will prompt both the manager and employee to choose a development or coaching opportunity, you’ve got a real time career management system in your hands.

With the advent of the iPad, I think we’ll see a shift away from laptops and more tablets and smart phones with customer facing employees. Companies who can align an employee’s training to their real time work tasks will be able to take advantage of the improved networking capabilities to save time and money; and deliver training more efficiently.

Q. What might organizational learning look like 5-10 years from now?

I envision a world with more on-the-job training and less classroom time. Coaching and mentoring are popping up more and more in my experience. I think employers want good leaders and team oriented associates. Training organizations, in my opinion, should model and promote these behaviors.

When training becomes an ubiquitous part of one’s day-to-day experience, one will pursue it in a reflexive manner. In my mind, that’s a real sign of an engaged employee.

Q. Could you envision a 21st century training program for us? What might it look like?

I think it looks like a blend of experiential learning and coaching, supported by a minimal amount of formal classroom and self-paced study.

Q. We’ve seen online communities proliferate, from online communities just for friends (Facebook.com) to communities just for tackling complex R&D challenges from Fortune 500 companies such as P&G (InnoCentive.com). What do you think of organizations supporting their own learning communities?

In many organizations there is a lot of tribal knowledge shared among customer facing associates. Sometimes, this knowledge isn’t all good. There’s a fine line between creating a common company language and encouraging shared learning.

Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking sites succeed because they provide high accessibility with few if any limits. What social networking providers are quickly learning is that structure around privacy and content is a necessity.

I think social networking will play a part of organizational learning going forward, but it will require thought around structure. Learning will occur naturally, but organizations will benefit from careful thought around how best to support their employee’s learning to activate employee engagement, retain skilled workers, and develop leadership capabilities.

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