The Grameen Foundation joined LINGOs as a Level 2 Member at the beginning of October, 2011, just in time for its newly hired Talent Management and Engagement Manager, Astha Parmar, to attend the LINGOs member meeting. Astha leveraged the work that colleagues had done before she came on board, her own knowledge and skills, and the resources from the LINGOs membership incredibly well and fast.
Astha built on the knowledge shared in the community, and documents many of those ideas and tips (including many shared in last week’s superb virtual coffee break in which Conservation International’s Catriona Moriarty shared her agency’s experience in the first year of building engagement and marketing learning through Conservation International’s eCampus).
In the spirit of community resource, LINGOs asked Astha to share her experience and approach, which she kindly does here.
Guest post by Astha Parmar, Manager, Talent Management & Engagement, The Grameen Foundation
Thank you for (last week’s) thoughtful post– you really hit the key points here. As you pointed out, we did launch in two weeks (and actually in week 3 of me joining Grameen!)
Here are a couple of thoughts on our approach.
- Talent Strategy: Our VP of Human Resources actually did a great job prepping us for the launch. We’ve done a lot of ground work in terms of having a talent strategy, seeking feedback from our employees and collecting data on key learning needs. So when I walked in, we had a couple of pieces in place: topic areas that would interest employees and leadership excitement/ commitment to pushing learning.
- Community: My ability to attend the LINGOs Conference was just such a huge plus in getting me started. The connections I made and the understanding that LINGOs is not just a portal—but a community deeply committed to helping international development organization’s build capacity—was invaluable. Plus between you and Joey, I really walked out feeling like I knew what I had to do to get set-up.
- Helpful skills: Finally I do want to add that I have launched LMS’s before and worked in the world of online course development. Which helped.
- Branding: Folks can see the branding of our portal here (http://gflearning.org). Getting a URL that was super easy to remember and consistent with our brand was important. The look and feel is deeply aligned to our mission and overall org branding.
- Usability: I used shadowbox to create the in-page pop-out effect. My goal here was to make the main page actionable and draw the learner in. You actually don’t need super technical skills to make this happen—but a working knowledge of html helps. Or unwitting friends who are software engineers and will trade help for food—that will work, too.
- Selecting Courses: A couple of thoughts on picking the courses:
- We aligned the launch with an organizational initiative. So we were just launching a new online project management tool, and we rolled out GFLearning with PM courses as a support for this initiative. A couple of advantages— the employees saw this as supporting their day-to-day work needs; and instead of me doing demos, the person heading the PM initiative stumped for the our portal (goes to credibility)
- It’s daunting to review and pick the courses that are right for your organization. But I have found that between the course completion reports published by LINGOs and the feedback on the PSI University catalog—you can get to a good shortlist fairly quickly.
Keeping the momentum going
- Bite sizing releases: Instead of launching too many courses from the get-go, we have chosen to launch courses in bite sized chunks. So we launched with the Project Management Courses. Next we did a mini release in which we responded very quickly to initial employee requests that came in after our portal launched. Folks loved this. Now we’re doing topically focused releases, our next one being on Management Skills.
- Organization-Created Content: Almost all LINGOs members I have interacted with emphasize the importance of creating and hosting organization specific courses. Since we don’t have the bandwidth to do this upfront, we have used some short cuts to get there. We host a lot of online brownbags, and I have started importing these into Camtasia, editing these out and aggregating them on GFLearning. Encouraging departments who need to share process/program info with employees to use the platform has also worked for us.
Also, most people think of online courses as an actual training. I have created some very quick resource aggregations with Articulate and published these on our portal as a quick fix to get some info out.
- Impact stories: we have only been launched for about a month now and folks have busy schedules—so to incentivize people to share, I sent out a ‘share your feedback’ email with some targeted questions. The pay-off? Everyone who got responses in by a certain date was entered into a $15 book credit, for a book of their choice that would further their learning. Worked!
- Email updates, leadership support and field calls: ..all the usual suspects!
Initiatives we’re working up to: a new employee orientation/learning plan and more sophisticated Grameen authored training courses. Last thing I would emphasize is that we follow the 70-20-10 principle of learning, so all my Lingos effort is in context of an on-the-job and people supported learning strategy that’s geared to further our mission.