In 2018, companies in the US have spent $87.6 billion on training programs. While payroll and the costs of external tools/software constitute a large part of that expenditure, hiring costs are also on the rise. 36% of companies mentioned that they plan to increase the training staff from the year before.
Learning designers, often called an instructional designers are in particular high demand. These professionals are often set in charge of developing training programs and learning materials for organizations. They base their work on skills and performance evaluations, feedback from both potential students and the people who supervise them, industry requirements, educational best practices, and a variety of other factors. HR staff, corporate trainers, even team supervisors may play the role of learning designer as they attempt to ensure that team members have the competencies they need.
At some point though, many organizations recognize the need to hire someone for this position full-time. If you’re at this point, keep reading. Here is a list of skills and personal attributes that make an instructional designer a good fit.
Effective Learning Designers are Creative
There’s more to creativity than simply having artistic skills. A great learning designer will have the ability to use their creative thought process to make mundane topics engaging. They’ll take roadblocks to learning, then conceive unique ideas for overcoming those. Finally, to be effective at their jobs, instructional designers must be able to find ways to help trainees connect with material under a variety of conditions. It takes creativity and empathy to do this successfully.
They Must be Able to Curate as Skillfully as They Create
One part of the designer’s job is to evaluate the situation, determine what the need are, and then design an overall solution. The second part is executing that. This includes creating engaging instructional material, as well as finding ways to deliver information in ways that are effective.
A good portion of this process is creating instructional materials and assessment instruments from scratch. However, a good instructional designer knows that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Instead, they will know how and where to source existing videos, graphics, case studies, and other resources to meet your organizations instructional goals.
They Can Understand The Needs of Various Business Areas
A learning designer is there to help teams in every business area meet their training goals. While they cannot master every aspect of your business, they should be able to jump into various business areas, and understand what people are trying to accomplish. This is how they are able to create curriculum so that the right training can be delivered.
For example, at any given point in time, a learning designer might be:
- Working with an HR team to develop a training program for hiring managers to better understand modern resumes and CV templates.
- Teaming up with the IT department to assess staff competencies in preparation for a major website overhaul.
- Meeting with sales floor staff to better understand why current sales processes aren’t as effective as they should be.
Learning Designers Ask The Right Questions
One of the key reasons for hiring a learning designer is to have someone on staff who is better able to assess and meet your training needs than anyone else. A good learning designer doesn’t do this simply by following your directives, or accepting your perception of your current situation as is. Instead, they will reach out to everyone involved with and impacted by the training process. By asking the right questions they can identify:
- Issues within corporate culture
- Resistance and lack of buy in
- Lack of expectation management
- Conflicting goals
- Resource issues
They can then take the information they gather to create solutions that meet the actual needs of the organization, not perceived ones. As you might imagine, a good instructional designer will also have the ability to contradict assumptions diplomatically.
They Seek Feedback And Other Data to Improve
It’s helpful to understand that even under the most skilled educational designer, training is an iterative process. Not every initiative will be 100% effective the first time it is put into place. That’s to be expected. The real test of the designer’s skill is in their willingness to collect feedback and use assessment data to identify where their processes need to be improved.
They will seek feedback from students and their supervisors. They will use the analytics tools available to them to measure results, and they will make iterative improvements along the way so that the curriculum they design continues to improve.
Educational Designers Have Highly Evolved People Skills
A good learning designer must be able to understand the feelings and needs of students, supervisors, end users, and anyone else involved in the learning process. They must be able to talk, listen, and collaborate while demonstrating empathy and insight. Finally, they should be able to ensure that everyone involved feels as if their needs are being met.
All of the attributes listed here are extraordinarily valuable in a learning designer. However, if you cannot find someone who has all of these, that doesn’t mean your search is doomed. If you can find a learning designer who has several of these, and then team them up with other staff members who can fill in the gaps, you’ll get good results.
Independant inbound marketing consultant with 5+ years in the industry, including coaching and developing e-learning courses. Bylines at the Huffington Post, Tech Cocktail, Hackerspace by Lifehacker among others.