Could a generic or off-the-shelf eLearning course change your behavior? Most likely it can’t because it is generic and even though it might have some examples these might not apply to the specific situations your employees will face. Could a generic eLearning course change your attitude or how you think about something? Perhaps it can if the content is valid and the generic e-Learning course has been well designed. However, does changing your thinking about something guarantee that you will change your behavior? The answer quite simply is no, nothing can guarantee it (think about how many times you read a life changing health practice and then failed to apply it) but you can put the odds in your favor.
Now let’s consider the following: can changing behavior change the way we think about something? The answer is yes. Ultimately it is behavior that counts since it is what impacts the world around us. How can behavior change our thinking? Let’s consider some examples where this might seem obvious. The first is dressing differently (a behavior). When we are dressed in fancy, expensive clothes or in a uniform, we tend to change how we stand, how we talk, and how we perceive ourselves. Another example is when we force ourselves to smile (a behavior). In the beginning, it might feel awkward and fake, but as we maintain the smile we start feeling happy (thinking happy thoughts). If you are still not convinced, try the smile technique on your own (perhaps do so in private so people around you don’t think you are crazy!)
So how do you increase the odds of a behavior change occurring after an eLearning course? You not only provide relevant, valid and compelling content to impact how people think about an issue or as Peter Senge of Harvard would describe, change the mental models people hold to interpret what is around them, but you also provide examples that are specific to the challenges and situations your employees will face. Modeling the right behavior within the appropriate context can be achieved only through a custom eLearning course that has been designed based on your employees’ specific needs and challenges. When the behaviors are made explicit in this manner, the gap between knowing something and being able to execute on it, or what Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton coined “The Knowing-Doing Gap,” is shortened. It is still not a guarantee people will change their behavior as this responsibility ultimate lies with the individual, but the odds will definitely be in your favor.