At September’s modern learning monthly dialogue, we had the wonderful opportunity to hear from Jeff Lowndes, L&D Leader at Snap, Inc. In our conversation Jeff shared about relational scaffolding, a system that focuses on connectedness over content in the onboarding process. While content surely has its place, he posed the question, “Can we intentionally architect how new hires build relational scaffolding in the business?”

After gaining feedback from new hires about the 10-week onboarding road map that was designed for Snap, Inc., Jeff found that what they expressed benefiting from the most was the relationships they had formed with co-workers. Equally, he found that new hires who connected less with their co-workers expressed this was one of the harder parts of onboarding, saying things like “I feel bad reaching out all day everyday so sometimes I get a little stuck on questions.”

That is when Jeff and his team decided to double down on building in more opportunities for people to connect.

Here’s a few of the specific social learning tactics Jeff highlighted (you can hear more about these and learn more tactics in the full clip):

  • Stoking Games
  • Segmentation Activities
  • Q&A Opportunities
  • Project Based Activities –

Below is a preview of our community Q&A with Jeff:

Question: Do you connect people at different levels?
Answer: We do create that in some of those spaces cross functional teams. Initially, we were only doing this with people from the teams that were onboarding but now we are trying to say over creating space let’s also help them reach across different lines that may be harder from them to traditionally reach across. We are trying to help people do that more because it can be a challenge.

Question: What are the benefits or challenges to having an assigned buddy versus a self- selected buddy when onboarding?

Answer: To me it’s best to create structures where they are assigned because some people won’t practically do it as they start to get underwater with the ramping of their roles. It’s better to assign it but then trust that you are still creating those other spaces and other buddies will form, hopefully.

Question: Does relational scaffolding take the pressure off of L&D?

Answer: We can create the spaces and lower the barrier to entry. I tell new hires I have a monthly new hire meet up, and people who are the most successful are people who know other people in the business – it will help you so you should come and that should be your intention coming.

Check out the full video recap below!

It’s awesome to hear how Jeff is tactically implementing what we call the Social Learning Touchpoint in the LCD model. Often, learning designers believe they have no role in facilitating social learning outside of the classroom. We know that is not true! There’s a lot we can do – and Jeff shared some great food for thought on how. He is creating a new rhythm for the onboarding process that can help any organization optimize employee engagement and thus drive positive business metrics.

Are you currently incorporating any intentional social learning tactics?