I was speaking with an HR Director this week. He was sharing that he needed to rethink the role of his HR department.
The question he was asking himself was, “How do we break out of our traditional way of viewing Learning & Development (L&D) to respond to our current reality and bring more value to the organization?”
He went on to share his L&D perspective, he would help leaders identify their development goals for the year and then they would each scour the industry looking for conferences and in-person training courses to support that development.
If there were enough leaders wanting training on one topic, perhaps he would engage the services of a trainer or expert to come on-site to run a program or workshop.
Once the L&D path was decided, the budget was approved, and the person attended, he could tick the box. There, done…learning and development for that leader accomplished.
He admitted that traditionally he focused 1:1 with leaders, helping them assess their individual strengths and weaknesses to justify their L&D expenditures.
What he realized more than ever this past year was that he didn’t take as much time to think more strategically about L&D.
He didn’t focus on the importance of matching overall leadership development to current and future organizational needs.
Shifting perspective on the L&D role for organizational growth
The World Economic Forum estimates that 50% of employees will need to be reskilled by 2025.
And, popular research by Carnegie Mellon Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute found that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills and only 25% on technical knowledge.
This highlights the need to put significant focus on implementing strong L&D programs that focus on continuous and relevant learning that match up with both the short and long term needs of the organization.
Perspective #1 – Big Picture vs. Individual Focus
When was the last time your HR team did an organization-wide leadership SWOT analysis?
Do you know your organizations growth strategy?
Do you understand the number of potential new leadership positions that will be created in the next 1, 2, 5 years?
Do you understand the number of current leaders who want to move to another position or might be retiring within the next 5 years?
Here are some questions to get your team started:
- Where is your organization today and where does it want to be in 5-10 years?
- What’s the difference between the skill level of your current employees and leaders and where you need it to be for a sustainable future?
- Are you focusing your L&D conversations to highlight and address the gap?
- What opportunities are there for both large-scale leadership development programs and individual development programs?
Perspective #2 – ‘Check box’ Activity vs. Strategic Alliance
With this new highly virtual world, there is so much available online training it can actual be more challenging to narrow down the L&D opportunities with people.
People have different learning styles, preferences and some are challenged with finding a focus.
A new perspective is to view L&D as a strategic alliance and act as a L&D advisor and coach.
You’ve done your SWOT analysis and you have come up with leadership themes the organization needs to build on over the coming years. With your advisor hat on, you can now advise the leadership team of the gaps you see and then identify both group and individual L&D opportunities as a focus.
Then it’s time to put on your coaching hat. You can offer up a variety of L&D options and you can also support leadership teams and individual leaders to come up with their own options based on the agreed upon themes.
L&D now becomes a strategic partnership as opposed to a mandated ‘check the box’ activity.
Perspective #3 – Stand-alone learning vs. the multiplying factor
Many L&D approaches focus on one-off training and workshops. People attend, they might garner some learning out of it, you check the box and people move on.
The following statistics highlight the effectiveness of different types of learning opportunities…
Adult Learning Retention Statistics:
- Lecture – 5%
- Reading – 10%
- Demonstration – 30%
- Group – 50%
- Practice and Doing (experiential!) – 75%
These statistics make a very strong case for learning that is focused on practice and doing which is why the success rate of coaching as part of your L&D offerings is so high.
As well, this work from home culture has changed how we lead people. Leaders are sharing they see higher levels of anxiety and stress among team members, which means they have an increased focus on their relationship skills, their ‘soft skills’.
Coaching - To focus on/or change ‘soft skill’ behaviors it takes awareness, an alternative action plan and practice. This is where executive coaching comes in. The coaching space is one of reflection, exploration of new ideas and concepts, and then putting into practice what you learn, knowing your accountability partner will be following up at your next coaching session. It is one of the most experiential offerings you can offer leaders.
Now this doesn’t mean that one-off training and workshops can’t be more effective as long as you have a L&D system to make it more experiential.
Learn and tell – when a leader does take part in a learning opportunity such as an e-course, reading a book, interviewing a senior leader, etc. make it an expectation that they share what they learned with others within a specific time frame. This allows leaders use methods that most appeal to their learning style and also increase the retention by implementing an experiential aspect to the learning.
Mentorship – different from coaching, mentoring is focused on supporting leadership development with more organizational specific learning. Again, having an accountability partner to share ideas and then be expected to put the learning into practice increases the likelihood that the learning will stick.
Leadership Learning Cohorts – bring small groups of leaders together on a regular basis to share successes and challenges, discuss learnings, toss around ideas, perhaps learn together on a certain topic. This group support and learning is even more effective when facilitated by an objective third party, like a coach or someone outside their business unit.
HR professionals we are speaking with are focused on getting creative and challenging their perspective to build a strong workforce that can navigate an unpredictable landscape and support growth change initiatives in their organizations.
I love this quote from Dr. Wayne Dwyer, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Download our Free Guide Here: