Have a question for Tamar Elkeles? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and she’ll answer your question in an upcoming column. Please note that due to space constraints, the editors may be unable to publish responses to all questions submitted.
As organizations grow increasingly global, the need for overarching learning administration seems to be growing. How would you structure a centralized shared services center for global learning initiatives?
Before embarking on a centralized shared services center, I would first try to understand the business driver for moving to this kind of a model. Companies have been struggling with managing the administration of learning for years. There is no right or wrong answer about how to manage it most effectively. It’s important to look to other corporate functions in your organization to see how they are managing global services for employees and to evaluate how they are structured. Be sure that there are clear business drivers and efficiencies that can be obtained through a centralized shared service model. Many IT organizations have been using shared services models for years, but not all have been effective or financially beneficial. For global learning to be effectively managed through a shared services center, expectations need to be clearly defined, service levels need to be high and productivity should increase as a result.
It seems like many companies are still in the experimental stage when it comes to social learning. But have any gleaned results yet? Are any best practices emerging?
Whether companies adopt social learning tools or not, employees will still be using them. Further, the proliferation of these tools will continue, and it is important to determine how organizations can best use them effectively for learning.
Companies are struggling with the issue because of confidentiality, discoverability and widespread information sharing. Unfortunately, many companies are limiting use of these tools during work time and on company networks. Some companies — primarily those in the technology industry — are capitalizing on social learning tools and specifically using them for knowledge management, building informal learning networks and identification of experts across their organizations. Recently there have been several conferences and webinars showcasing best practices in this space. If you are aware of a best practice in social learning, please let me know so we can highlight it in the column.
With business conditions the way they are, many companies are focusing on efficiency and productivity as core priorities. How can learning and development practitioners capitalize on this emphasis to increase alignment and also extend their influence as a valued partner?
It’s amazing to me that it has taken today’s dire business conditions for many learning professionals to begin focusing on efficiency and productivity. They should always be critical elements of the learning and development function.
Unfortunately, a lack of focus on learning efficiency and productivity has resulted in learning budget reductions, learning staff reductions and overall learning resource reductions in many companies. Aligning learning with the business isn’t different today than it was last year or the year before.
The key difference in today’s environment is that learning professionals are expanding their scope to include more and different solutions for impacting business performance. To be a valued business partner today, it is important to focus on assisting the organization with business model changes as well as organizational changes. As business priorities continue to shift, learning professionals need to adapt their thinking and their deliverables to manage talent within their organizations and expand their scope to create non-learning solutions to business problems. These are difficult times, but they do provide tremendous opportunities for learning professionals to add real value to organizations.
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