Tamar Elkeles is vice president of Qualcomm’s Learning Center and the author of: The Chief Learning Officer: Driving Value Within a Changing Organization Through Learning and Development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I recently took part in a discussion about using social media to build workforce collaboration and enhance business performance by embedding them directly into important business processes. What really struck me about this conversation was that the CLO was identified as the key person to drive this integration.Who should lead social media integration?
Collaboration among employees is nothing new; the key difference today is that there are online tools that are facilitating and tracking threaded employee discussions, and this is enabling a more robust experience for users. Remember, not that many years ago e-mail served a similar purpose. Today’s emerging social media tools may increase employee communication, information sharing, knowledge transfer and learning; however, actual data about the business impact and ROI of these tools is still being explored. Independent of their value, people are using them outside and inside their company firewalls to share information and connect with others. The best CLOs are embracing social media tools and are trying to find ways to use them as part of their comprehensive learning systems — and ultimately as a way to increase business performance. Using social media tools within a company depends on leadership and collaboration between the learning organization, IT, legal and management to determine the best tools and appropriate use of these tools. It is critical that all of these stakeholders be involved in making social media decisions before they are implemented. Many CLOs are integrating social media tools into their blended learning programs, while others are mining the data from online employee discussions to create expert groups or generate curriculum on specific discussion topics.
I’m hearing more people talking about performance support as something I should be paying attention to. Can you share any success stories about using performance support as a key part of learning initiatives?
I have been using performance support tools for almost my entire learning career and suggest that all learning leaders do so. The classroom experience is only one part of the learning system. Providing performance support tools is critical to augment and reinforce learning outside the classroom. Most companies are offering blended learning solutions for their programs, which incorporate an element of performance support. At Qualcomm, we recently introduced a new emerging leader program that includes podcasts, webcasts and a tool from PDI Ninth House called Instant Advice. This online tool is an excellent example of just-in-time performance support that has tremendous benefit for participants of this program. It provides video examples and suggestions for dealing with leadership situations, which can be instantly accessed anytime via a mobile device. We have received excellent feedback from program participants about this feature.
Alot of attention is being given lately to the idea that positive psychology in the workplace improves performance. The focus is understandable considering the various hardships that today’s workforce is dealing with, but what exactly is the CLO’s role here? Is it a matter of addressing individual needs via programs or workshops or more about cultivating the right workplace environment?
I believe that CLOs are responsible for maintaining and fostering an organizational culture in addition to improving employee performance. Creating an organizational environment that aligns with company values and norms is a key role for CLOs. They are in a unique position to be able to help employees learn about their company, industry, market and company culture, as well as enable them to learn new skills to perform on the job. Every formal learning program within an organization should reflect and reinforce the organizational culture of the company. The role of the learning leader is evolving into that of a chief culture officer — someone who is ultimately responsible for creating a positive work environment. That is an influential role that can have tremendous business impact.
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