Resources from the episode:

Transcript of the interview:

Docebo 0:07
Welcome back to the learning elevated podcast brought to you by Docebo. The show where we help you elevate your learning efforts and move up in the world of enterprise learning and development. Guiding you on your journey up the tower. As always, we’ll be your elevator operators myself, Rob Ayre, and my co host, Kerri Moore. Now each week we start off at a new floor and today we’re getting off on the fifth floor, the remote party. Well, many office workers are working from home in the wake of COVID -19, many teams are hosting parties via video chat as a way to keep morale high. So we’re joining you. So I’m super excited for this episode, Rob, I think this is the time where we need to connect and just basically stay close together. Yeah, absolutely. You know, on the table side of things, we’ve already started doing some pretty cool things to try to connect even outside of work. And we had this virtual trivia night, which I know you and I both were able to take part in that was so much fun.

Yeah, right. So there’s a lot there’s a lot of really interesting ways that you can continue, um, you know, we say the party but you can just continue the connection I read actually a post on on LinkedIn, I think was by one of my colleagues who said that we need to stop referring it to to it as social distancing and just refer to it as physical distancing, right, still be connected socially. And I think that’s just like a, you know, a really important kind of thought to have as we as we continue down this sort of new and unexplored road. Absolutely. You’re completely right. And I mean, as we’re doing this, now, it seems really relevant. But of course, a lot of people are remote. All times of the year, a lot of people work from home, or perhaps they actually live in a different country to the rest of their team. And they are having to find ways to connect, find ways to keep learning with that team basically, and to have that social element of the the job to so this is extremely relevant no matter what stage of the year, no matter whether this is happening or not. But particularly now, I suppose it’s something that’s particularly important. And so we pulled as always a very nice article for you guys. And this one is by E learning industry, and it’s by Christopher Pappas.

He’s actually the founder of elearning industry so we can believe he can be trusted. And today we have an article on the five tips to facilitate knowledge sharing and elearning. Because, as we said, it’s incredibly important. And so I think the reason I liked this article in particular, because it kind of considered some less obvious benefits of making sure that you have this community of like knowledge sharing. And so something that like, we also when we have our guests on today, they’ll also be speaking about this. And but it encourages brainstorming something that, you know, I think we forget about that. So many companies have these, like hackathons where they try and work out what the new product is going to be or what the issues that they’re facing are. And you know, having that online as some of you can document what people are saying is extremely important. Yeah, absolutely. You know, we we do it here as well. You know, we do scrims and we do a lot of, you know, brainstorming activities that we do both in person and we take them, you know, into our learning platform, we make sure that people are able to contribute, whether it’s in the comment section or giving just sharing a resource that you’ve recently come across.

Exactly, yeah. And it means also that you can you can then document those as well. And you can see how the ideas that have progressed over time, maybe you know, people from different offices are able to collaborate in that idea as well, which is a great resource. Yeah, I think too, like, it opens up the whole idea of, you know, exploring tribal knowledge. So, yeah, a lot of the times it’s contained in one person. And so if you’re really sort of creating this culture, that that that information is shared and welcomed, and sort of, there’s a location for it to be Yeah, you know, found and you’re able to sort of unlock that that sort of, yeah, the tribal knowledge. Yeah, absolutely agree with you. And another thing that was brought up in the article is that you are able to gain feedback that you might not normally get elsewhere. Yeah, that was really interesting. Because, you know, if you have a platform where people are discussing things, they’re being a bit more open, they feel a bit more at ease, and you’re gonna get so much more out of the people. Yeah, that platform. Yeah, absolutely. It makes so much sense.

So it was the final thing really like with this one I really liked that you could use knowledge sharing as a way to find experts and your audience. So I, yeah, I mean, it’s sometimes it can be hard to identify when you have a very big company, who are your top assets in that company, you know, who are the people that are very good at sharing knowledge that are great at teaching that are able to communicate well. And it’s a great way to find that out, you know, as you know, as a relatively small l&d department, for instance, being able to kind of associate people with having that skill set is extremely important. So yeah, if you have this platform that can speak to the wider audience, and you can pick out the people that are doing it right, then that’s incredibly valuable as well. It’s so it’s so incredibly valuable. And I mean, it’s really all about opening up those those lines of communication and facilitating it through, you know, the technology investments that you’re making. And, you know, I think all three of these points are certainly touched on during the interview. So, you know, I think we’re almost here at the floor carry with you. Are you ready to hop off and hop into the interview, I’m ready to hop off. We are joined today by Ben Eubanks, who is the principal analyst at Light lighthouse research. I’m very excited to speak to him today. Absolutely. Let’s get off enjoy.

So today we’re joined by Ben Eubanks. Ben is an HR industry analyst and influencer and the principal analyst at lighthouse research. Ben, welcome to the learning elevated podcast.

Ben Eubanks 5:19
Awesome. Glad to be here. Rob.

Docebo 5:21
Yeah, it’s great to have you. So we’re excited today to to chat to you a little bit. And you know, the kind of the basis of this conversation we’re looking at is, organizations are increasingly spread out across the globe. And, you know, in the in the social media realm, we hear a lot about FOMO. And that disconnection. So, you know, we understand that learning technology can play a pretty critical role in you know, leveraging communication, but as well as transferring knowledge. And, you know, I want to start off by asking you, why do you think it’s important for businesses to create a community of knowledge sharing?

Ben Eubanks 5:51
So there’s a couple pieces of this for sure. So the first thing I think of is how much we learn as a as individuals as as teams, as companies, how much we learn is wrapped up in learning from and engaging with other people. There’s relatively little that we learned that’s that’s pure lecture or pure, you know, passive content consumption so much what we learn is, we have a hand in it, or we’re, we’re sharing with someone else, we give all of our excitement into it. So a couple pieces of that that are really interesting. One of the other things that popped in my head, though, around this topic is our research shows that there are certain human skills of work that algorithms and AI and things can’t easily replicate, right? collaboration, working with each other sharing ideas, I can query a database all day long. But if you and I sat down, and we’re going to think through how solve problem, we can bounce ideas back and forth, we can brainstorm and that collaboration, that creativity is something that doesn’t, that isn’t replicated by some other tool or capability out there. And so, there is a real need for employers to focus on creating, not just focus on knowledge sharing piece of that, but creating a real community around it. So it feels organic, it feels like you are really connected to something bigger than yourself.

Docebo 7:01
Absolutely, I mean, that’s a lot easier said than done, though, right? How do you think that businesses should go about looking to ignite this culture? Like, how do you get this started?

Ben Eubanks 7:10
Well, the good thing is, there’s already a natural death or inclination from the workforce to want to do these things. So it’s really about enabling it, let’s get out of the way and let them do the things they want to do. One of the things that I think about, there’s Dan Pink’s book Drive, he talks about mastery, the need for us to be masters of a domain or a subject matter. That’s one of things that drives us to want to perform at work. And so this is like giving someone a chance to do that and be the focus there. So in terms of igniting this culture, really, there are some mechanical things employers can do, whether it’s what we’re going to emphasize and rewards behavior when you start sharing things that not just that are helpful and interesting, but that are valuable for the company. years ago, I worked for a company software firm. We had an area where engineers could share ideas with each other and it’s called our big ideas database, very grandiose, a nice one of our engineers said, Wait a minute, we’ve been selling this one piece of software for a long time. We’ve never What if we just license this one piece, we instead of creating a customer every time we could sell the rights to it, and that became a multi million dollar stream of revenue for the company. And just because one person had the place had the opportunity to share that, and it wasn’t shot down. It wasn’t a place where ideas go to die. It was a place where people went to really discuss and vet each other’s ideas. And it’s one of those things that I come back to is we emphasized and rewarded those behaviors of sharing ideas. And we pushed for those things we call for them. And when they came, we recognize them and look for ways to implement them. I was working as an HR and Intel leader. And so that’s one of the things that I think employers can do is really to look for ways to not just reward the outcome. Not all ideas will have a multi billion dollar outcome, but to look for ways to reward the behavior of sharing ideas, sharing knowledge because you want to you want to emphasize that so it happens over and over again.

Docebo 9:03
So there’s some sort of tactical feedback that you can give on that. I mean, are there are there ways that you’ve seen organizations have gone about rewarding that process?

Ben Eubanks 9:11
So the way that the way that we did it back then was if an idea generated revenue, we gave a percent of it back to the person. And that’s, that’s in terms of like an innovative, innovative kind of thing. But I don’t want to make the make the case that everything has to be tied in to that right. So it is about the internal The, the intrinsic value people get from being able to do this. There’s a company I was talking to last year, they had what they called their nerd clubs and people got to we’re all used to lunch and learn right you get to come in, have a have lunch and sit down, listen to someone teach them something. Well, instead of the company sponsoring all these the company set aside the shared resource, but they open it up once a month, or every month sorry, and someone come in every week on a Wednesday and grab that time slot and share on something they cared about. And they had the chance to talk about something that they were excited about. What’s funny is we talk about engagement as a concept in the workplace. And we always think, well, if someone’s consuming a lot of learning, they probably engaged. But I’d say the flip side of that if someone has the chance to share something that they are really passionate about with their, with their colleagues, if they’re doing those things, I would argue they’re even more engaged.

Docebo 10:17
Yeah, no, absolutely. Are there any trends that you’re seeing around protecting, learning to communication?

Ben Eubanks 10:23
So as you kind of highlighted at the very beginning, one of the big things that’s happening in the workplace, it’s not new, right, this idea of virtual work isn’t new. But more and more companies are really starting to look for ways to make this happen. Look for ways to adopt that. And part of that’s driven by the really tight labor market, people can’t find the talent they need locally. So they’re looking they’re having to open that up a little bit. They feel more open about that idea. But that’s one of the big trends that we’re seeing is this idea that people are sitting all over the place, they might not be in the same office together, which creates a different layer to this conversation. How do we make sure that if they’re not sitting next to each other, we still are creating that culture where they feel comfortable sharing, they feel comfortable connecting with each other to learn from each other not just to consume passive content that the company shares or something wrong with that. But in terms of generating the stronger relationships and those stronger dynamic conversations that can lead to better outcomes for the company, too. So, communication is a big part of that making sure you’re you’re intentional about it, making sure you’re prioritizing, learning as part of that. But also, it’s it’s really easy to get stuck in a rut, right? I used to work for a company, it was virtual. And it was so easy just to get up on Monday, do my job and on Friday, hang it up and come back in Monday again, and the times that they went out of their way to find ways to allow me to teach and educate someone on something I was excited about, or a way for us to connect with each other as peers in the company. Those were the weeks where I was most engaged, most excited to come to work most look forward to creating new value. And it’s not impossible to do with a virtual workforce, but it does take more intentional planning.

Docebo 12:02
Yeah, well, yeah, exactly. I mean, what kind of tools and planning do you think are really needed to create a successful community?

Ben Eubanks 12:10
One of the things that is critical, it has to be very low barrier to entry has to be easy to access, if it’s mobile friendly, even better, or mobile first, if it’s if they’re able to access these things, because you never know what’s gonna kind of strike and you won’t be able to share those things or have the chance to interact with someone, regardless of where you might be. One of the companies I think up there is T Mobile actually did this a few years back, they were launching kind of a social sharing platform where employees could communicate with each other could share their ideas could could get answers to questions, things like that very much about the knowledge sharing kind of concept. And when they started this, and we just want to look at number of contributions, number of shares, like how many comments like that was their metric for whether it was successful or not. But it was a May it was even more successful than I ever imagined. And it goes back to the idea that I mentioned earlier, it’s about unleashing that creativity, people want to do these things, they just don’t have a place to do it often. And they might can do it on, you know, on a one on one basis. But that’s not scalable. And if Rob and I have this really awesome conversation, and you want to benefit from that, too, but you can’t because we we had some other channel. And so doing this enables that to be the more public. One other fun, fun example of this that I’d love to tell. So there’s a company here, I’m based in Alabama, there’s a company here called ad Tran, they are the number one in Alabama in terms of patents awarded. So lots of really smart people work. They’re incredibly incredibly smart. One of the things they use with this to create kind of a community Creek some some structure on this is they actually use hackathons on a regular basis to develop key skills. They say, okay, we need to be more adept at machine learning. We’re going to do an hour training on what this looks like some ideas on how it might apply to our products. And then we’re going to give you the next 24 hours to make something so prototype that relies on that. And what’s fun for them is people aren’t just learning new skills. They aren’t just working together and sharing their knowledge. But they actually have started using that as a branding tool and a recruiting tool, because they’ve realized people that participate in those are more likely to retain longer than employees that don’t just fade, right?

Docebo 14:17
Ben, you talk about this a little bit already, but I kind of want to dive a little bit deeper. So you know, organizations are constantly trying to measure the impact of both what this conversation has been about, you know, knowledge sharing, but also just the engagement that’s happening within that community in that culture that they’re building. How have you seen them go about how have you seen organizations go about measuring that and what are some of the best practices that you’ve seen over the years.

Ben Eubanks 14:43
So I’ll start by saying, our data show that if you’re a high performing company, which means you have better revenue, better retention, better customer metrics than someone else, if you have those high metrics, if you’re high performer, you are twice as likely to plan how you’re going to create and deliver your content, but you’re also twice as likely to measure the outcomes as well. So if you want to be like a high performer, measure the measure the outcomes. The thing is you can’t wait until like, hey, I’ve got a great idea. We’re going to launch a knowledge sharing, you know, platform, we’re going to be all about this. And then we’ll decide after the fact how we’re going to measure that because it doesn’t work to think, think beforehand, plan out, because you need to know what you’re looking for as you go. So I’ll say that part to preface this. Look for new skills that workers exhibits right look for ways that you can tie that back to things that were maybe shared on that platform. What new ideas the example I gave earlier, the big ideas database, right? It’s a way for people to share their knowledge or their ideas, what ideas can we trace back this channel might have some revenue implication, look for any sort of data that you have, you can correlate the say workers who participate are more active in this knowledge sharing those workers are the more engaged are likely to stick around for a longer period of time.

So much of our conversations around learning are an engagement are let’s create an engaging learning experience. But I think the real benefit is on the back end of that. Think about it. If someone is more engaged, they do higher quality work, they put in more effort. But if you engage them with learning, they’re they’re smarter and they stay longer. So you’re getting it’s a it’s a positive compound effects. And I, we can’t emphasize those kinds of things enough.

Docebo 16:22
Yeah, it’s so true. And we’ve heard this on multiple interviews thus far on the podcast where the more pre planning you do before you launch a program, the better that program is going to run right? I mean, if you’re if you know what goals you’re trying to achieve, what numbers you want to see spiking, you can plan for that and you can you can implement both technologies, but also processes and communications that can help to foster that.

Ben Eubanks 16:47
For sure. Absolutely. It’s about kind of like priming the pump and you’re starting to look for those things and you start be aware of those things. I’ve yet to run across some sort of learning initiative where you have it all figured out beforehand. You can’t always foresee what’s going to happen. But thinking through it ahead of time, you’ll be you’ll keep your eyes open for those kinds of things to show up as sorts of outcomes to show up. Again, there, there was a company I spoke to a few years ago, they had just launched a new program, you know, multi million dollars, they spent all this roll time rollout all this efforts, trying to get it all out there to their employee population. And then they realize, like, we didn’t think through how we’re going to measure the impact of this. So all they could do on the back end was kind of just watch the activity that happened and use that to say, Well, this was successful or not based on some arbitrary benchmark that said after the fact, they said that as our they said, we always tell that story before start a project because it is our reminder that we have to know these things before we ever spend the first dollar before we ever make the first plan because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re accountable back to the business. If we want to do this again, and again and again and keep making our people more valuable over time. We’ve got to be making sure we’re doing the right things on that front.

Docebo 17:57
Absolutely. I think that is also part of getting better. C- levels to buy in, right if you’ve already got a bit of a plan of what you’re looking for and what they can expect out of there. So, yeah, it’s very important part. Well, Ben, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. We really, really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. super interesting to get your expertise on this. Thank you very much. This has been so much fun. I love sharing about how employers can do this better. And I appreciate the time. Thanks, Ben. Have a great day.

What a fantastic interview. I just always really love speaking to Ben. He’s so insightful. Yeah. Thanks so much, Ben, for joining us on the on the podcast. hope everybody enjoyed the interview. You know, for me what I really liked and this is one of those things that I feel as though it’s almost obvious in a way, but we really do learn mostly through others. Yeah. So it really does make sense that that businesses sort of include some sort of community place for knowledge sharing and their learning strategy. 100% Yeah, it should be something that they’re thinking about because it’s gonna happen anyway. But if you can capture those insights somewhere that’s, you know, central for everyone to share. It makes so much sense

Really, I mean, a lot of the a lot of the disable platform is based on that 70 2010 model. And that’s 70% is really through learning, learning with others learning through others. And so yeah, it just makes it makes so much sense. 100% Yeah, I really liked as well, what Ben was saying about how you can, you can try and engage people on the platform to share that knowledge by rewarding that behavior. And so that it’s like, not just about the outcome and about having those great ideas that lead to something but just actually, you know, rewarding the sharing part of it so that you can get good outcomes eventually. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, honestly, who doesn’t love a good reward? Exactly. Yeah, amazon gift card, it could be anything, the smallest thing sometimes when and giving a place for that type of thing to happen to not just having the rewarding but like, you know, having a system where you have hackathons, that was really cool. You know, daily scrums, whatever it is to deserve, facilitate that, that sharing both digitally and in person I think is really important. And I appreciate Ben’s sort of insights on that. 100% I also thought it was really great that he was talking about engagement there and saying that actually, you know, sharing

If knowledge is the best sign of engagement, because someone is teaching something that they’re passionate about, and that is the real sign, you know, we have all these metrics that we’re trying to gauge whether people are engaged in our materials or not. But if someone’s speaking to it on their own, their own behalf, you know, then that’s fantastic. Yeah. And you know, what I find? I can build a really strong relationship with somebody, when I’m able to visualize and understand what they’re passionate about. Yeah, right. So, you know, once I’ve sort of been able to build those relationships, it helps to create better outcomes for the organization in general. And I think that’s sort of a really good point that he brought up. And realistically, that’s going to lead to higher talent retention, it’s gonna it’s going to sort of make the culture as a really great tool for hiring them that next fantastic talent or retaining the talent they already have. 100% Yeah, it’s about creating that culture where people want to be around others everyone wants to learn everyone wants to develop and if you have a culture where the company is encouraging that and others and in you then that’s incredibly Yeah, incredibly exciting to be part of. Yeah, you know, the one last thing I want to kind of end on here that I think is really, really important is it’s it’s we’re hearing an episode after episode after episode, but it’s so important to decide what your measurement of success is, before you get started. Please listen.

Absolutely it is. I mean, is it going to be the new skills? Is it going to be new ideas that you can tie back to the platform? And you know, the people that are sharing that knowledge staying with the company for longer? Are they more engaged in the platform in your learning, or in their job, frankly, you know, there’s so many insights you can gain from this and having that platform that you can kind of centralize everything on makes a big difference. Yeah, absolutely. So listen, we had a great time at the party. Thank you so much, again, to Ben Eubanks, what a great interview. And I hope I hope everybody listening is gonna walk away with some really valuable insights that they can they can put into practice right now you know, as in the remote work environment that we’re finding ourselves in. Be sure to tune back in next week, we’ve got ourselves another exciting episode. And so if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe, and we will see you next week. For more information on what we’ve discussed today, including links to resources and downloadable assets go to that’s and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also find us on iTunes, Spotify and all other places where you get your podcasts by searching learning elevated, so don’t forget to click subscribe so you know when we’re disembarking on another floor.

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Floor 4: Virtual PartyBen Eubanks