The lack of skilled talent is one of the most critical issues facing business today. Technology, business models, and global market dynamics are changing so rapidly it’s difficult to find, recruit, and keep staff with the right skills.
The chief learning officer has a pivotal role to play to help companies increase their organization’s capability, but the role is changing. With the introduction of MOOCs and other online learning platforms, as well the use of social media networks, employees have new expectations about how and where they learn.
The role of learning and development is shifting from a top-down approach to one that empowers employees to take charge of their own development. CLOs must create programs and employ technologies that encompass these new always-on learning methods and leverage existing best-in-class content rather than try to reinvent the wheel.
Here are six strategies shaping the CLO role today that successful learning leaders are using to enable their workforce to continuously skill up.
- Leverage in-house talent. Most companies have pockets of expertise on different topics, but often which employees have specific skills and knowledge is not tracked or captured. This makes it tough to tap this expertise when needed. The more accurately an organization can track what skills employees have — beginning with new hires — and what skills and competencies they develop over time, the more agile they will become. Companies can extend their learning capabilities by enabling employees to connect and learn from each other — whether that’s finding a solution to a specific technical issue or establishing longer-term mentorship relationships.
- Enable self-serve career exploration. Enable employees to take charge of their careers by providing information on career paths within the company and the specific skills required for each role. Empower employees to own their own development plan by concretely identifying what they need to learn or hone. AT&T has developed self-serve tools to support employee career mobility. For example, the company’s career profile tool helps staff find open positions, and links them to resources to develop required competencies. The tool also enables employees to connect with nearby employees in a similar role.
- Create a learning culture. Today people share most everything they do on social media. Training and educational achievements are no different. As people learn, reach milestones and gain certifications, they should share these things with friends and associates. This encourages individuals to learn, and creates a culture of learning as associates see others posting their achievements. Salesforce’s Trailhead, an online learning platform, teaches skills that lead to jobs in today’s digital economy and allows users to earn badges showcasing the skills they have learned, which can be posted to their LinkedIn profile and shared across social media. [Editor’s note: the author works for Trailhead]
- Make learning fun and engaging. Learning designers need to think more like game designers and provide enticing and even addictive ways to engage and motivate learners. This is often called gamification, and includes elements of competition, rewarding and encouraging feedback and goal-setting.
- Support micro-learning moments. Today every moment in a day can be productive. We check our phones while waiting in line, taking breaks, eating lunch, or when we need a quick diversion. During these little moments people read news stories, check social media, play games, and answer messages or emails from work. They are also ideal times for short learning sprints. Think mobile.
- Make learning personalized and adaptive. More and more learning programs are taking advantage of artificial intelligence and the vast amount of learner data available to make recommendations on what to learn next and prompt users when they need to refresh a concept. What if a platform could recommend specific roles that might be a good next step based on an employee’s existing profile and goals? Or, if that platform could prompt someone with learning modules that others in their role have taken or endorsed or that teach the skills that are most in-demand with hiring managers?
The CLO role is more complex now than ever. Delivering personalized learning content in small consumable bites, mobile-enablement, gamification, and having an inventory of staff skills and capabilities is best met by selecting, or building, a platform that pulls it all together.
The amount of change in the world is accelerating. The challenge for CLOs is to put the resources in place so that employees can take responsibility for their own careers and drive their own learning and development. It’s about giving them tools they will want to use on their own.
Lisa Tenorio is the director of business development for Trailhead at Salesforce. Comment below or email editor@CLOmedia.com.
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