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11 Mind-Blowing Takeaways From WorkRamp LEARN

In our half-day virtual summit WorkRamp LEARN, 23-plus speakers from learning and development (L&D), revenue enablement, customer education, HR, and more shared expert insights, advice, and knowledge.

We also had a special announcement from our CEO and Co-Founder, Ted Blosser, as he unveiled the new evolution of WorkRamp: the People-Centric LMS.

“Historically, LMS providers have been focused on process-based learning,  harassment, compliance, and change management,” Ted says. “People-centric helps you amplify your learning efforts by focusing on your people first. At the end of the day, it’s your people who are driving change at your organization.”

Ted shared some of the upcoming people-centric enhancements:

  • Public profile page. Highlight what you’ve learned and make it easy to connect with peers.
  • Search engine. Search for content and people you can learn from in your organization
  • Company tab. Browse and learn from your colleagues.
  • Learner interface. The foundation for new people-centric features like subject matter experts, skill graphs, and learning leaderboards. 

Now that you’ve gotten a sneak peek of what’s to come from WorkRamp, let’s get into the mind-blowing learnings from our speakers. Here is a roundup of 11 key takeaways from WorkRamp LEARN. 

Want to jump to a specific section? Here’s an overview of the sessions:

Takeaway #1: Learning is truly a competitive advantage

In a panel discussion, Unexpected Ways to Empower Internal L&D Champions, Kason Morris, Head of Learning Experience Design at Salesforce, and Melanie Naranjo, VP of People at Ethena, share that learning is a competitive advantage for retention, improvement, optimization, and innovation.  

Here are their tips for building a learning culture:

  • Focus on the why. Not just the why for your learning audience but the areas of business that L&D will impact. What are the outcomes and behavior changes you’re trying to achieve? Build this at the leader level. That’s how you create those champions.
  • Make learning part of everyday work. “At Ethena, we have a meeting every other Tuesday; one-hour dedicated to learning.” Melanie shares. “It’s mandatory, and the entire company attends. It’s time devoted to learning, improving, and asking questions.”
  • Leverage trusting relationships. “When you embed learning as part of the culture, you have other resources,” Kason says. “Managers lead by example. Champions lead by example. You start to see performance change and transformation connected to learning.”
  • Promote psychological safety. A big part of learning and growing is being able to make mistakes and take risks. If you work somewhere that doesn’t have a tolerance, you might find people are less willing to innovate. 

Takeaway #2: Everyone can do customer education right if they focus on the right principles. Learning a new product is like taking a journey into parts unknown.

Dave Derington, Director of Customer Education at ServiceRocket and Co-Host of CELab: The Customer Education Laboratory shared his tips and explained that teams must put the customer before the education.

This means designing experiences people want to learn from versus building safe, dry learning. Serve busy customers in their moment of need instead of making them do more work to find answers.

Dave also shared that modern customer education must:

  • Guide customers to value versus educate them on every feature
  • Build a core program that scales versus customizing every time 
  • Lead with data tied to business outcomes versus measuring activity
  • Use agile practices to ship solutions quickly. We want to get to market quickly; customers don’t have time to wait. If they’re in pain, they’re going to find another solution

And, some final insight: 

Customer education and enablement are partners. They’re like brothers and sisters working together. We all need to work at the same time on the same goals to divide and conquer. That’s how we win big.

Takeaway #3: A growth mindset is not just the ability to learn. It’s also the ability to unlearn the things you thought were true that no longer hold up

In his keynote session, Celebrating Growth Mindsets to Think Again, Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist at Wharton, bestselling author, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife shared how to rethink your mindset.

Adam explains that our thought process generally falls into one of four categories:

  • Preacher mode: I’m right!
  • Prosecutor: You’re wrong!
  • Politician: We’re right; they’re wrong!
  • Cult leader: I’m always right!

These mindsets are problematic if you want to adopt a growth mindset. Instead, Adam recommends thinking like a scientist. This means not just being motivated to find reasons you might be right but also to find why you might be wrong. 

The power of thinking like a scientist reminds us that every opinion is a hypothesis waiting to be tested. And every decision is an experiment. This changes the way we interact with people who disagree with us. 

Adam’s additional steps to develop a growth mindset include:

  1. Build a challenge network. People who have the courage to tell you unpleasant truths. They’re more concerned with promoting your growth vs. protecting your ego.
  2. Create psychological safety. This helps team members feel they can take risks without being punished. People aren’t afraid to speak up and let their ideas fly.

Takeaway #4: How to see the real ROI of customer education

Tony Vaughn, Director of Customer Education at Qualified, shared his three pillars for realizing ROI from customer education. Proving the ROI of your efforts is essential whether you have an existing program or are starting one from the ground up.

  • Brand. We’re our own brand, he explains. Our customers have something special. You can come to our customer academy (Qualified University) to learn about our product or even to grow in your career.
  • Content. The most common types of customer education content are guides (videos, text, best practices), courses, and technical articles (understanding how a feature works, step-by-step directions, etc.) Tony explains that it’s vital to understand how customers use your content by looking at engagement, reactions, and outcomes. Also, use qualitative proof, like someone leaving a review. 
  • Community. Building a community [through customer education] can help you find brand ambassadors and spotlight customers. 

According to Tony, these three elements make a significant impact on engaging and retaining customers. When these three are together, we start to see the real ROI of customer education.

Want to hear more from Tony? Learn about the marketing principles you need to improve your customer education program. 

Takeaway #5: People who thrive learn continuously

Josh Bersin, Founder and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company, shares his insights on the importance and the Future of Learning and Development

  • Learning has multiple purposes. It’s a training tool. Professionally, it can help you advance your career. It can also give you a sense of belonging and growth in your personal life. 
  • Growing people is the way to move them up the pyramid into high-value opportunities. There’s a 30 percent turnover rate in the U.S. It’s hard to hire unless you’re a well-known company. When it’s hard to hire, recruit, and retain, the best solution is internal mobility.
  • There are four levels of L&D excellence. Facilitate growth, tailored development, self-directed learning, and programmatic training. 

“The investment in learning is a never-ending opportunity, even during recessions,” Josh says. “I urge companies not to slow down their L&D investments. Because that’s when they need it even more. In this economy, in this digital world, the investment in L&D is essential to growth and sustainability for your business in the future.”

Takeaway #6: “Don’t boil the ocean.” What to focus on to build a killer program

In a customer education panel discussion, Kristi Thurston, Content Strategy Manager at Kustomer, and Seth Jones, Customer Success Manager at Vanta, shared insights on shifting focus.

    1. How to build a scaleable program. Pick something you can tackle when you start a new program. “Don’t boil the ocean.” In other words, don’t try to take on too much. Instead, focus on where you can have a real, tangible impact.
    2. Give learners the most efficient, effective types of learning content. “Microlearning is the way to go,” Jones shares. “If there’s one thing people don’t have right now, it’s time.” “Try to target small segments,” Kristi adds. “Make them action-focused.” 
  • Use customer activation and behavior to demonstrate success. Seth recommends using customer activation to get buy-in from leadership. How quickly does the customer take the desired action when the deal gets closed? For example, for Vanta, how fast did the customer make their first integration? Kristi adds that it’s important to focus on the behaviors that drive the outcomes you want. Not just product adoption, but how many people are using the learning center? That’s a good indication of how many customers are engaging.

Takeaway #7: Enablement is the fuel of the revenue engine

Matt Green, CRO of Sales Assembly, and Nina Bankar, Vice President of Customer Success at Calm, share how revenue and enablement teams can and should work together.

“Without an enablement team, you’re flying a team and building it at the same time,” Nina says. “That can result in a couple of crash landings. Without enablement, you’re setting yourself up for more pain and potential failures. Have an enablement team at the beginning; as quickly as possible.”

More tips for revenue and enablement to join forces for success:

  • Revenue and enablement are partners. It’s critical for revenue and enablement to partner together, especially with a high-growth company that wants to acquire new customers and retain revenue. The product is evolving and growing rapidly. The market, and the state of the economy, are constantly changing. For the teams to be aligned on the end goal, you need an enablement team to ensure everyone’s walking in the same direction to achieve the goals.
  • The revenue team is enablement’s primary stakeholder. “It’s heartening to see more organizations realizing how critical the partnership between these teams can and should be,” Matt says. “Revenue has a big target to hit, and enablement is the fuel of the revenue engine.” Enablement is responsible for building and setting up any program for success. 
  • Enablement needs to protect the revenue the sales team brings in. This means ensuring people are updated with how the product works, how it’s evolving, and how to approach renewal conversations. The enablement team needs to align to the goals and figure out programs and training that are needed, and then roll them out to the masses.

In their panel discussion, Big, Bold Enablement Trends, Seema Jain, AVP of Revenue Effectiveness at Mural, and Whitney Sieck, The Enablement Enthusiast, share their advice for how to navigate enablement during constantly-changing times.  

“This was the year of change and social experimentation,” Seema says. “Businesses have had to pivot in three ways:”

  • Prioritizing and personalizing the buyer journey. Now, there’s so much happening online. We’ve intentionally designed customer engagement to personalize the journey. We have a better understanding of customer needs and are serving curated content based on what we learn.
  • Curating the rep’s journey. Using in-depth assessments, skills matrices, and core competencies to identify gaps and create custom learning plans. The learning journey for high performers is different from that for new employees.
  • Continued focus on demonstrating business value. Working to understand the impact enablement has. Connecting technology solutions to business value and ROI.

“Change management has been the buzzword, but it’s going to become even more prevalent,” Whitney adds on how enablement teams can make an impact during times of rapid change. “We have to help internal leaders and educate ourselves. We can be these agents of change within a business.

Takeaway #9: Completion isn’t the same as impact

Ashton Williams, GTM Enablement Leader and Senior Manager, Global Programs at Slack, shares her advice on building a successful enablement program. 

    1. Align to long-term business goals. Understand the landscape and what you’re trying to accomplish. Which team members are going to support you? How you build your strategy looks different based on the company or organization and the size.
    2. Be outcome focus; completion isn’t the same as impact. You shouldn’t be reporting on completion as a success metric. Dynamically scaling enablement means looking at the long-term impact you’re trying to achieve. For example, with onboarding, employees may finish their training, but are they getting on the phone, driving productivity, and hitting their goals? 
    3. Don’t fly solo. Realistically, the goals of enablement are to help forecast performance and elevate productivity to hit outcomes. That’s the job of every person. You have to spread that accountability where it makes sense.
  • Automate and elevate from day one. Always plan to be big but keep the caliber high and focus on the purpose. Automating updates and how you communicate to executives  makes it easier to scale and not have burnout on your team where people are doing things that aren’t a good use of their time or creativity. 

Takeaway #10: Use data to tell your story and show that L&D isn’t just something that feels good. It’s something that leads to business outcomes. 

In her session, Make Your Team Unstoppable Through Career Development, Mikayla Posk, Learning and Development Program Manager, Notaraize shared initiatives that have worked for her to promote L&D and help team members reach their full potential.

“The human input into a company isn’t a black-and-white factor,” Mikayla says. “It’s the role of L&D to make sure a company’s human capital is performing as well as it can be.”

Mikayla and her team started a program at Notarize called The Coaching Collective. This group mentor model paired senior leadership volunteers with team members over eight weeks. After the program, 100 percent of participants said they got a lot of value from it and would recommend it to others at the company.

Mikayla shared her advice for other teams to create mentorship programs to promote career development.

  • Ask and listen. What do employees really want?
  • Strike a balance between structure and flexibility.  Give participants a framework, but also, give them the freedom to get what they need out of it.
  • Communicate clearly and effectively. Make sure people understand what the program is and how they should participate. Get people excited about it. 

Takeaway #11: “In the beginning, middle, and end–it’s people who build companies. If we get our people right, everything else will fall into place.”

What does it mean to have a people-centric organization? In their panel discussion, People-Centric CXO, Kelly Breslin Wright, President & COO, Gong, Jack Altman, CEO & Co-Founder, Lattice, and Nick Mehta, CEO, Gainsight, shared what this means to them and their tips to bring this culture to your organization. 

Why is it so important to have a people-centric company culture? Jack shares that putting people first is an inversion of the typical mindset, but having a culture that creates successful people and optimizes growth, a sense of purpose, learning, and community, will lead to the greatest overall company you can have.

Kelly adds that it’s important to have the team rally around a unified sense of purpose so that everyone understands not only what you’re doing but why. And Nick shares that their purpose statement at Gainsight is to be living proof that you can win in business while being human first. 

So how do you put these principles into action? Here are some ways Jack, Kelly, and Nick have prioritized people in their organizations.

  • Recharge days. At Gong, there are company-wide recharge days at the end of each quarter. They shut the whole company down, and everyone gets a four-day weekend. “We’re a hypergrowth company, we hire top people at the top of their game who work hard,” Kelly says. “But one of our operating principles is to enjoy the ride. So we encourage everyone to take time to unplug and recharge.”
  • Transparency. “When we started, transparency was sharing metrics and data,” Jack says. “But the most important part is transparency are the concepts and reasons behind what the company is doing. So we try to share that and make transparency front and center.” 
  • Communication and focusing on moments in the employee-teammate lifecycle. Nick shares that every Sunday, he sends an email to the whole company. It includes what’s happening in the company, what he’s working on, what he learned over the past week, and something from his personal life. He also looks for opportunities to unite people, like kicking off All-Hands meetings with a DJ.

Jack, Kelly, and Nick also stress the importance of leadership exemplifying the people-first mindset for the rest of the employees to follow suit.

“Think of your role as not just your title,” Kelly says. “But as Chief Belief Officer of your team and your company. How can you inspire belief in your team?”

The learning doesn’t have to stop there! For more pro tips and expert advice from our speakers, check out the on-demand replays from WorkRamp LEARN.

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