In an ever-changing biotech industry rife with competition, Janssen has had to jump through a lot of hoops. Considering the industry is also highly regulated, Janssen’s program has had to remain both robust and active to meet standards that are higher than most.
“We’re going to have to make smart, effective decisions in this highly complex, competitive marketplace,” said Michelle Lynch, senior director of sales, learning and development and immunology for Janssen. “There will always be trade-offs, but if we’re keeping the learner at the center of what we’re doing, it will drive us as our north star.”
Thanks to its guiding star, Janssen hasn’t let the pressure stop it from providing elite-level learning and effective products. The best way Janssen has found to meet both goals is through its highly passionate workforce. Lynch said that from sales reps to C-suite, Janssen’s core focus is doing the best it can for patients, and the learning program’s goal has been to enable that.
“We’re really empowering the learner to be the glue, to make sure that our patients get access to the products in the end,” Lynch said.
She added that when on the job, “People only have a tendency to apply what’s relevant to them.” To remedy that, making learning “stick” has become integral to the program at Janssen. “We’ve really taken the approach to stage our learning along the way through high levels of engagement through gaming and creativity,” Lynch said. This engagement has helped lessons feel more pertinent to the individual learner and thus reduced scrap learning overall.
Once information is presented, the learning team at Janssen goes to great lengths to check in with employees and ensure they can execute what they have learned. Technology and roleplay activities have proved especially helpful in this endeavor. “We do a lot of case-based learning, like decision simulations where we really need to make sure they can apply it,” Lynch said.
Those efforts have paid off, and Janssen has the measurements to prove it. Measuring results against peers using Metrics That Matter and against return on investment has allowed the learning team to capture proof of their worth and inspire confidence in teams across the board.
“At the end of the day it all really goes back to that measurement and how we’re ensuring that we’re closing the loop,” Lynch said.
Using Metrics That Matter after one learning event before a product launch, Janssen found that it scored in the 97th percentile for employees self-reporting that they believed they would use what they had learned on the job. That number is well above the average and is something that senior leadership has learned it can count on.
Lynch said that the learning team is closely involved with the leadership of the company and learning shapes the strategy Janssen uses for each coming year. “You have to make sure the learning organization has a seat at the leadership table.”
In that same vein, high-level leaders actively engage with learning programs. Lynch explained that senior leaders often participate in activities with sales reps, in essence becoming models of the behaviors and skills the sales team needs to succeed.
At all levels, Janssen’s workforce pursues learning for their own improvement. Lynch offered the finance team as a specific example. “People in finance want to come into the classes and learn about the products,” she said. “They want to really understand — how can they be better in their role, by the more they know about the breadth and depth of product.” Knowledge of the product, she said, leads to more effective patient care, which in turn leads to better business.
Janssen’s unique combination of learning and business is always driven “for the betterment of the patient.” Janssen holds quarterly meetings called “town halls” to keep employees up to date on overall business changes. Often patients are brought in at these events to speak with employees about the process of acquiring products and treatment.
With that in mind, the learning team at Janssen is looking toward the future dedicated to improvement with the patient and the learner at the forefront. This includes a dedication to all employees understanding the importance of technology and how to use it, regardless of previous experience. “You need to have every generation and every worker engaged in the importance of technology and learning,” Lynch said.
With regard to their overall mission, she added: “We will continue to evolve to ensure that we are being effective.”
Mariel Tishma is a Chief Learning Officer editorial intern. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.