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Why you should start curating a team library today. (And how to get started)

Have you ever tried to find the right content to develop a skill? Got overwhelmed with the options? Were unsure how to choose amongst the many options? Questioned if spending effort and/or budget would translate into improvements that are recognised during a performance review? We know how painful this is! And we have a better solution!

Content is ubiquitous (and mostly useless)

The internet has brought us opportunities that were unimaginable just 50 years ago. There is content for everything, everywhere! Blogs, books, videos, courses and more. You can search on Google, on your intranet, browse content providers like Udemy or GO1, enquire about university short courses or reach out to training providers or coaches. Access to education has never been easier than today.

However, there is now an overwhelming amount of options. How can you possibly choose between the dozens of potentially well suited content options? How can you be sure to pick the one that will help you or your team member improve the target skill in the context of your team and organization?

It is not uncommon to spend hours looking for the perfect content and still not being able to choose. And once you do, you will only find out months later if your skills have indeed improved. That’s not good enough!

Reviews aren’t really helping

With all these options you have choice, but no certainty. You might say “That’s what reviews are for! Hundreds, if not thousands of people rating a course 5 stars is all I need to know!” Well, this might work for a new TV, a toothbrush or a toy, but not for learning content! Why? Because reviews are not taking your specific context into consideration!

High ratings are most often based on things like:

  • Professionally produced content

  • Knowledgeable presenter

  • Well written book

  • Many practical examples

  • Fun and entertaining delivery

  • Hands-on simulations and activities

What they are NOT based on:

  • Proof that they help develop the specific skill in your team’s context

  • Evidence that the content has helped someone else in your team before

Choosing content with great reviews is likely entertaining, interesting, insightful or even lets you to believe you are now more skilled than before. But a great review does not indicate if the piece of content helps to develop the skill that is important to the success of your team.

There is simply no way to tell if any 4.9 rated course helps to get to the next level, or even a promotion in your current organisation.

The benefits of a curated team library

A well curated team library can quickly become one of the most important assets for teams that value a learning culture. It offers a social way for teams to create a repository of valuable information that is always up to date and saves everyone investing time, money and effort into the wrong learning activities.

Only trusted content.

Recommendations of team members who went through the painful process of finding the right learning opportunities that helped them progress their career are much better than any online reviews. And because there is evidence of the learning activity helping with career progression in the current team, learners are more motivated to complete their learning and are more likely to feel a constant sense of progress and accomplishment. All of which can increase employee retention and satisfaction.

Aligned to work in the team’s context.

A curated library ensures that all content is directly linked to the current capability framework and will have an immediate positive impact on the team’s ability to perform. This guarantees that every piece of content is relevant and guarantees to develop the required skills in your team’s context.

Guiding personal career growth.

Providing a clear understanding of how to improve any skill in your competency framework is important for any team member who wants to progress their career. A team library is also an amazing way for new team members who need to acquire some missing, team-specific critical skills, as well as existing team members who want to progress their career by developing their skills in alignment with the team’s competency framework.

A way to help each other grow.

Facilitating a feeling of collaboration and a way to help each other reach their goals together. A team library is a shared space for team members to support each other and help each other grow, which has proven time and time again to improve a sense of belonging, satisfaction and stronger relationships within a team.

What makes a curated team library successful

Not every curated list of content delivers on the value promise described above. There are four specific requirements that need to be fulfilled to make a team library successful.

  • Open. The library should support any content from any source that the team members have access to, including free content on the internet, paid content from subscriptions like GO1 or LinkedIn Learning as well as pre-approved paid training and coaching

  • Relevant. The library needs to stay relevant over time. The most relevant content should be displayed at the top and disappear over time if new, more relevant items are added.

  • Collaborative. Creating a learning culture is a team effort and the library needs to support this. Anyone should be able to add items, vote up the ones that have developed their skills and be celebrated for contributing to the team’s library.

  • Aligned. All items in the library have to be aligned with the needs of the business and the team. Any entry should be directly linked to one or several skills in the team’s competency framework.

Professional development tools like Skillpaca make it easy to create a successful team library and ensure the content remains relevant to the team. A curated list is not a static asset and evolves with the team over time. It needs to link to the team’s competency framework so that it can be integrated into any growth or development plan for existing team members or any new starters.

How to get started with your own team library?

Any social activity requires a critical mass to be helpful. A team library is no different. An empty list does not excite anyone, which makes the initial pieces of content the hardest to create. By following these few steps, any team can get the ball rolling:

Step 1 – Collate

Do a stocktake of previous content. Scroll through your internal communication and find items that were shared amongst team members. Have a conversation amongst each other about learning activities and content that have helped to develop skills in your competency framework. (This is a great team brainstorm activity!)

Step 2 – Curate

Add helpful items to the library. Use the outcome of the previous step and add the discussed content to the respective skill(s) in your library. If a piece of content helps developing multiple skills, add it to each skill (so that it appears for any of the skills it helps with)

Note: Don’t worry about skills that don’t have any content. You might not have content attached to each skill at the beginning, and that is totally fine! Your library will grow organically over time. Instead of researching now, make sure that everyone remembers to add whatever they have done when they improved their skill.

If you want to reap the benefits of a curated library, it is critical that your team has a competency framework (or skills matrix) to ensure alignment of the content with the needs of your team and your business. If you don’t have one yet, now is the time to create one!

Let us know if you would like us to help you with it!

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