The role of the chief learning officer is no longer just about developing employees, it’s about developing entire organizations. From building an attractive company culture that empowers employees to take control of their learning experiences, to identifying and shaping company champions who will help grow the business, CLOs have to look at the big picture when it comes to corporate learning. What methods, tools, processes and procedures will be most beneficial to the organization and make learning successful?
Enter open learning platforms. [Editor’s note: The author works for a learning platform company.] Rather than focusing solely on individual development, like traditional learning management systems do, open platforms allow CLOs to create a collaborative environment that involves employees, as well as current and prospective customers. The collaborative tools within the platform expand beyond company walls, allowing the business to grow along with its employees.
Of course, an open platform where anyone can do anything would be chaotic, but with the CLO overseeing the process, opportunities to develop the entire organization are nearly endless.
Developing employees: Open learning platforms provide collaborative tools that allow employees to pull content that suits their individual learning styles whether that’s watching videos or reading articles, sharing content they find most useful with their peers, or learning from their coworkers in an open environment. Giving employees — internal or remote workers — ongoing opportunities to actively participate in learning as it fits their specific preferences can promote higher levels of engagement.
Open platforms give employees greater flexibility to develop themselves, but CLOs have to understand the critical role they continue to play in the learning process. Within an open platform, books, videos, articles and other works come from the best experts and publishers, but that doesn’t mean everything in the platform is the right fit for every learning program. Through the platform, CLOs have to monitor employee feedback and timely statistics to determine which content resonates most for their program. From there, they can circulate this best-rated content to employees as they see fit.
To ensure employees are on the right track when it comes to learning and development, CLOs can monitor how employees interact with content via comments, feedback and sharing, to determine who is most actively engaged, and who within the organization is emerging as a thought leader or influencer on specific topics. Knowing who these employees are is crucial to the next step — developing the entire organization.
Developing the organization: Part of employee development is being able to recognize current and future customer needs and industry trends, then coming up with innovative ideas to create a competitive advantage. Employees who reach this phase in their own professional development — the thought leaders or content ambassadors — are likely the ones who will comment on and share content more frequently in an open platform.
Once the CLO identifies who the ambassadors are, it’s time to involve the employees’ managers. The managers can coach ambassadors how to involve customers in the learning process. When customers receive relevant articles and expert content related to the issues that matter to them — in a platform where they can converse with the sender about the topics and ideas — their loyalty and trust in the organization grows because the door for constructive, two-way communication opens wider.
Similarly, organizations that adopt more modern learning platforms are better equipped to proactively demonstrate industry knowledge. Before a new business meeting even starts, internal thought leaders can share articles or videos with a prospective customer that showcase an organization’s ability to pinpoint opportunities to grow that customer’s business, promoting trust before contracts are signed.
The CLO’s role is changing right along with the various ways that employees learn and develop. An open platform can equip CLOs with the resources and tools they need to grow the entire organization, and provide a flexible and collaborative environment to help retain top talent.
Mike Conner is chief evangelist for BlueBottleBiz, a collaborative learning platform for business professionals. To comment, email editor@CLOmedia.com.