3 Reasons to Reform Your Learning and Development Strategies Now

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Now is the time for companies to start reforming their learning and development strategies. According to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, 83 percent of survey respondents said that “their organizations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.” This type of flexibility is also shifting the way teams learn into more collaborative and convergent methods that not only develop the abilities of the participating individual but also spark innovation by bringing together different types of skills and approaches.

There are three reasons why your company should care about this shift:

1. Traditional training methods are less effective than collaborative learning methods.

Arguably, the most important goal of corporate training is that people apply what they have learned in ways that create desired outcomes for the business – in other words, that training is aligned with the overall company strategy. However, according to a 2016 McKinsey Quarterly report, only 52 percent of the senior L&D officers surveyed reported that their corporate learning academies “enable their companies to meet strategic objectives.” Less than half said that their organizations provided a “full array” of learning methods including “peer and self-directed learning” and “educational initiatives that take participants out of their comfort zones.” Aligning L&D initiatives with corporate strategy can often lead to more innovative learning methods that require collaboration and innovation to solve real corporate problems.

2. Skills training has less impact on employee retention than career advancement.

Providing “opportunities to learn new skills” might be a driver for initially attracting talent, but it is not as important to employee retention as employers might think, according to a 2016 Towers Watson Global Workforce study. The employees surveyed reported that career advancement and base pay were their top two retention drivers. It is important to engrain learning as a cultural norm that keeps businesses current with technology advancements and growing with ideas and innovation, so everyone learns and grows, not just those up for promotion.

However, developing trustworthy and people-focused leaders and promoting those individuals within an organization can create better retention rates than training. In fact, employees surveyed in the same study reported that their relationship with their manager and trust in senior leadership were also top retention drivers. When career advancement is a possibility, understanding who collaborates, delegates and communicates well is more indicative of who can handle a leadership role than knowing who has mastered new skills.

3. How we learn is becoming much more important than what we learn.

Time is moving fast, but technology is moving faster, and skills are becoming obsolete much more quickly with the rise of technology. According to the 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report, “Software engineers must now redevelop skills every 12-18 months,” and “professionals in marketing, sales, manufacturing, law, accounting, and finance report similar demands.” With the ubiquity of automation and the advent of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, no one can really predict which skills will have the longest half-life.

However, we can predict how people approach problem-solving and learning in order to tailor L&D toward each person’s strengths and to understand when to collaborate and when to have people work independently. Gaining awareness of who is on a team and how to fully use their strengths can not only boost people’s ability to learn but also provide a strong basis for organizational and talent development strategies.

It’s no surprise that companies must shift with the technological revolution that is already permeating our work and home lives. The way we communicate and learn is changing with every new device and application we use and, eventually, master. However, what companies really need in order to thrive and grow are great leaders, and giving people access to technology and technological skills alone is not enough to accomplish this goal. In fact, a PricewaterhouseCoopers 2017 CEO survey showed that over 60 percent of CEOs believe that problem-solving, adaptability, collaboration, leadership and innovation are more important than STEM or digital skills.

The bottom line is that organizations that can shape future leaders who understand how people solve problems, collaborate and innovate successfully will be more prepared to handle the shift.

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