Nov 26,2020

7 steps to creating a learning plan and transforming your organisation

By Liz Waugh, Partner Skills & Enablement Lead, Microsoft UK

As our Partners, you share with us the passion to help equip customers with the tools and technology they need, as well as empowering employees with the skills to do this.

But it can also be pretty daunting. Technology is changing fast. There’s a growing skills gap – one that’s estimated to cost $160 billion a year globally. In order for us to succeed together, we must ensure we have the skilled people we need to do this.

Luckily, you already do. 74 percent of employees are willing to be re- and upskilled. You have employees ready to learn the skills to help you succeed. And by building a culture of continuous learning, you’ll be able to retain these vital employees. And for those skills you haven’t got yet? Your innovative culture will help attract the right talent.

I want to see you all at the forefront of cloud, AI, and other new technologies. All of us at Microsoft want to see you succeed. This is why we have created the tools and resources you need to implement this culture of learning.

Our Partner Skills Initiative is a step-by-step guide that helps you assess, learn, apply, and grow your skills with best practices, tools, and support. But you also need to identify a learning plan that will help this culture succeed. To support you with this we’ve developed a seven-step process to help you get started with creating your own learning plan.

1.     Define success

As with any project you set out to complete, you should always find your why. Why do you need to create a continuous learning culture? What does success mean to you?

You need to know the goals and values you want your organisation to unite together to reach.

Take surveys of your employees. Look at your organisation’s analytics. Then, gather the key stakeholders and discuss what, exactly, you want to achieve, and how to align your learning plan to that.

2.     Have a plan

With your why solved, you can begin to focus on the how.

Map out a learning path that will be relevant to everyone in your organisation. You could gather resources, or focus on a specific department to begin with. Empower employees by weaving re- and upskilling into KPIs. Don’t forget to consider different learning styles – whether it be an online course, training days, or on-demand learning.

For example, by 2022, 68 percent of IT teams won’t have the skills they need. Focus on helping them build these to futureproof themselves and support the organisation. At the same time, you’ll build impassioned champions, who are more likely to stay in their role and share the benefits of your learning plan to others.

3.     Involve HR

HR are incredibly passionate about employee development. They will have experiences and learnings relevant to your organisation to help make your plan successful. Also, they’ll be able to help identify those who will become champions and share the message out to other employees.

With their experience in handling people and tracking team progress, they’re the best-placed team to get involved early to help deliver on your goals.

4.     Set SMART goals

SMART goals help focus efforts by using time and resources productively. By using them for learning, you’ll reduce the chance of failure and help engage employees.

  • Specific: What, exactly, should the employee learn?
  • Measurable: How can you measure learning to be sure progress is being made?
  • Achievable: Can employees realistically attain each specific goal that has been set?
  • Relevant: Do these goals fit into the broader business needs?
  • Timely: Have you set target dates to keep learning on track?

5.     Maximise your learning resources

We want to support our Partners to grow new and existing talent, so we offer a number of resources designed specifically for businesses. Sometimes, these can be hard to find when there’s so much to choose from. That’s why we’ve created the Microsoft Partner Skills Hub, which lists a range of different resources.

Find out more about our Partner Skills Initiative, discover a range of learning opportunities per solution area, or work one-to-one with learning providers through our Learning and Talent Concierges. You can even cram for an exam with our Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT)or get advice on how to best leverage the Partner Centre to support your organisation.

You can also register to attend face-to-face events delivered by Microsoft and Partners and learn specific role aligned learning modules on Microsoft Learn.

6.     Ownership at every level

Give employees the ability to own their learning goals. Set expectations for them so they know what they’re aiming for. At the same time, unite these individual goals with your overall organisation’s goals. People feel more engaged when they feel part of something bigger, and that they’re all in this together.

7.     Celebrate success

Who doesn’t feel good about successfully completing a course, or achieving a goal?

Foster that positive feeling by celebrating individual employee, team, or organisation-wide success and rewarding it. By doing this, you’ll help create a sense of community. In turn, this will help encourage others to take part.

A learn-it-all culture

We’re proud of the work you do, and we want to see you all achieve the best you can. By empowering your employees to grow by learning, you’re building a more innovative, productive workforce. This, of course, is transforming your business and the success of your customers, too.

Don’t forget to celebrate your new learning culture with us and our other Partners. Share your new certifications on LinkedIn and let us know how you’re doing – I love seeing our Partners reach their goals. It will also help our Partner community to create its own culture of continuous learning so we can all succeed, together.

Find out more

Visit the Partner Skills hub and start your journey today.