When asking learners for feedback, says General Motors' Chris Bower, the idea is not just to focus on the content, but on your learners' context.
by Ashley St. John
September 9, 2019
Video production: Andrew Kennedy Lewis
When asking learners for feedback, neutral questions followed by a lot of “whys” can be more effective than specific questions about their skills and what they think of your L&D programs, says Chris Bower, global director for General Motors’ Center of Learning. The idea is not just to focus on the content, but your learners’ context.
Read the full transcript of Bower’s interview below:
Historically, and we did this for many years and are transitioning away from it, is you’d go talk to your learner and say, “Hey, what are your skills? What gaps do you have? What training do you need? What do you think of our training? Hey, I’ve got this new training idea, performance support tool. Give me feedback on that.” And it really, it’s been driven by design thinking, which many organizations are using today and we certainly are using. And the first step in design thinking is empathy or empathize and it’s about going and doing empathy interviews. So rather than asking about what do you think of training, what training do you need, it’s more open ended questions, neutral questions followed by a lot of whys. And the idea is not just to focus on the content of what’s needed but the context that your learner is in so I think the idea of design thinking and how you talk, how you get feedback from your consumer, the approach and the methodology for doing that I think are fundamentally different than we’ve done in the past.
So we did 75 empathy interviews because we did a formal design thinking project with our sales consultants and we did 75 interviews and we came back and we sort of synthesize the themes that came out of that and we had six key themes that we use to sort of structure our design around and we didn’t get on what skills they need and so forth and we feel like a fairly good understanding of that. But some of the key things that are interesting is certainly you see things like they want personalization, but what’s interesting to us is they wanted that flexibility, but they wanted structure along with it. It just wasn’t just like whatever you want to do, I want to have some choices, but I want to have some boundaries. I want to have some structure that I’m making choices along the path.
I want motivation and inspiration to keep me engaged. A time training is time away from selling. So there’s tremendous pressure on that asset of time and consultants, if they really feel like if I’m training, I’m not selling so this training be pretty valuable and pretty key.