Before entering the world of consulting for learning and development training programs, I worked in a corporate development training group. In 2014, leadership asked my team to propose a solution to shift the culture of live, classroom-based training to accommodate a growing base of remote employees who required flexible learning options. My team spent months researching, planning, and creating a thoughtful proposal. After presenting the proposal to leadership, I was pleased with the group’s positive feedback and excitement to shift to a more digital and flexible learning landscape. One senior leader posed an unexpected question. Though it was the first time I heard this question, it certainly would not be the last.

“Is this an effective solution for millennials?”

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is a bit more complicated.

To preface the long answer, it is important to understand who millennials are. A common misconception is that millennials are the brand new members of your organization, coming in as entry-level with unknown needs and unattainable expectations. The truth is that millennials have been in your organization for upwards of ten years. In addition to the fresh faces at entry-level, millennials are likely many of your leaders and rising stars. You know them well and you have the tools to assess their training and professional development needs.

So, the question remains, how do you create an effective solution for millennials?

Design thinking.

Just as you design an effective leadership training solution for any other audience, design thinking ensures that you meet the needs of the learning audience for a course, including millennials. Drop the notion of designing courses with millennials in mind and instead embrace designing a course with user empathy in mind.  The belief that millennials require specific learning and development training programs simply because they are millennials is a myth.

As you follow the design thinking methods to gain an empathetic understanding of your users, you’ll find that the personas that emerge are not millennial vs. non-millennial. Likely, your user personas will identify similarities in individuals who share geography, role, expertise, and background in common. You may even find that user personas among different ranks share similar attributes due to geography and expertise.

At the Regis Company, we work with clients in various different industries and create user personas in design studies. The user personas for similar ranks vary widely across industries even though those ranks may represent similar age groups, such as millennials. There is no one-size-fits-all learning and development training to create valuable solutions for millennials. But, just because this generational group has created a lot of buzz in recent years doesn’t mean they pose an exceptional challenge for your training and professional development programs. Dig a bit deeper into who the audience is and the problems that need to be solved through corporate development training. Brush up on your design thinking methods and an exceptional solution for your audience will certainly follow.

If you follow a thoughtful design process with design thinking principles in mind, your “short answer” to the millennial question, like mine, will always be “yes.”

And that complicated “long answer” maybe isn’t so complicated: Seeking to deeply understand learner needs transcends generational labels and facilitates your understanding of what your people require from meaningful and effective learning and development training programs and helps you put them into action.

Learn more about how The Regis Company uses design methodology to transform thinking, grow leaders, and generate measurable results.

Christine Rasch-Chabot is a Consultant at The Regis Company with experience in learning and development programs in professional service, non-profit, and media industries.

Christine Rasch-Chabot

Author Christine Rasch-Chabot

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