There has been a lot of talk in the industry about Millennials and how they impact a talent strategy. Given the age demographic (newly joining the workforce), it is natural that the segment that has been giving this the most attention is the Recruiting process. Most recruiters today are actively taking advantage of new technologies and social norms to increase their access to a larger (and hopefully more qualified) candidate pool. This is all goodness.
Today, I’d like to suggest that there is another, equally important part of the talent “wheel” that really must stand up and take notice. This is the Learning group. As some of you probably know, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. But like anything that you are close to, I have also been guilty of wanting the answer to be in providing more methods of delivery vs. really needing to re-think the whole business strategy. I am now convinced that starting with the “delivery will save us” premise, is a recipe to being totally irrelevant within your HR Business strategy in the next 5-10 years.
Watching this video about university learning is a good start to understanding what is different today in how people learn. I personally believe that this is not just a GenY issue. Even our news channels, which have an over-30 demographic, feel the need to provide an increasingly large volume of content at a more rapid pace. The world is expecting information faster. Sure, younger generations are quicker to adapt to this kind of change, but that does not mean that it is only the under-30 crowd that is expecting more today than they have in the past.
How people “learn” and how they are “trained” are often not well aligned in most organizations today. I believe this problem is growing and that we need to start to think about this in the context of a “Learning strategy” vs. just a Millennial problem. To that end, I’ve decided to try and articulate what I think is needed for an impactful Learning strategy. I’m sure I’ve missed some things, so please feel free to sound off in the comments with additional ideas.
Meg’s suggestions for a Next-Generation Learning strategy
- Organizational Development and Training organizations need a tighter alignment than the loose “competency gap” relationship they have today. Companies need to be able to drive the need for learning to individuals based on a wide-variety of “triggers.” Competencies are certainly one, but what about things like missed objectives, long-term career plans, poor customer satisfaction surveys, or even manager or individual observations?
- Learning groups need to be comfortable expanding their influence and taking an active role in the dreaded worlds of knowledge management, informal land experiential learning. To do this, we must realize that we need a seamless transition for people between formal and informal learning. Not everything is going to be managed by the catalog and not everything can have the same level of formal monitoring as compliance training.
- Take advantage of “wisdom of the crowds” and avoid the tendency to have everything centrally managed. Tier your programs so that you can get comfortable with the volume of information that is going to naturally come along with the idea of opening up to the unwashed masses. Don’t run away from these concepts just because they are complex.
- Recognize that key learning today is not just coming from static channels, it is also coming from people. Having a better understanding about what human assets you have that can help your organization learning is key. Who knows what and who is willing to share what they know is going to be one of the key elements to understand.
- Begin to think about incentive and tracking programs for learning. What is mission critical for your business? What learning is needed to make that happen? How do you drive that learning to the individuals? How do you help individuals get real value from your learning programs so that they continue to participate? Understanding individual incentives is key.
- Be open to the idea that the learning department will turn into a facilitator of learning vs. the source of learning in the organization.
It is my prediction that learning departments will either embrace this new world and find their place in it, or they will become a third appendage with only compliance as their real value proposition.