Building skills to support organisational strategy
Learning and development is most effective when it sits right at the heart of the business. L&D professionals are increasingly aligning themselves more closely with strategic goals and matching learning and development delivery to what business and the learners need in their day-to-day workflow.
In fact, 61 per cent of training professionals who responded to a CIPD/Towards Maturity report1 believe their L&D activity is aligned to the strategic goals of the business. Despite this, many of them believe there is scope for improvement – 85 per cent of L&D leaders want to improve business performance.
One of the most effective ways of achieving improved business performance is to facilitate flexible work patterns. L&D can support HR in building talent pools of employees with the right skills to be deployed in temporary teams as required, on a global scale if necessary.
This is not just about getting employees up to speed with the right sector-specific or technical knowledge. Language and communication skills are also vital. As language and communication skills improve, a virtuous circle is created – using these skills employees can support each other in improving their skillsets across the board.
Preparing and promoting opportunities for people to learn from and with others is an essential part of a modern organisational learning strategy, according to the CIPD/Towards Maturity report, and this applies equally to developing the skills of learning and development professionals and of the employees they are supporting.
Yet, too often the L&D profession is failing to develop its own skills. Only a little over half of companies (54 per cent) are providing development opportunities for their L&D staff to support the use of technology in learning delivery, for example.
Here are five top tips to build the necessary skills to support organisational strategy:
- Practise what you preach. L&D professionals are widely failing to invest in their own development. L&D departments should be benefiting from technology enabled, self-directed and on-the-job learning themselves before they can expect to introduce it into the organisation.
- Listen to what employees say they want from training delivery. Use this feedback to design on-the-job learning that meets their needs.
- Motivate employees to learn on the job by giving them the opportunity to build better language and communication skills. People learn best when the learning experience is meaningful, so if they need to communicate with colleagues or customers in a specific language, they would be highly motivated to learn that language.
- Social and collaborative learning platforms are a natural fit to drive competence in language and communications.
- Make good use of the latest mobile technologies. These enable organisations to deliver learning content anytime and anywhere. Training need no longer be top-down and classroom led. Instead, learning content may be a resource that learners can access when they need it. For example, when someone is working through business process they may need support with filling in a form in English for regulatory compliance purposes. At this point, they can access an e-learning module that helps them through this process.
- Develop talent pools of employees who can be deployed widely across the organisation, ensuring the competencies required for each pool include language and communication skills as these underpin effective deployment of all the other skills.Encourage employees to network within and between these talent pools and to tap into each other's expertise, so that everyone can learn – and coach and mentor – collaboratively on-the-job.
Global organisations are increasingly adopting a strategy that demands an agile and flexible workforce. L&D professionals have a key role to play in underpinning this with support for developing the language and communication skills that are vital for all employees to work effectively across borders.
1 Preparing for the Future of Learning - A Changing Perspective for L&D Leaders
CIPD and Towards Maturity. By Laura Overton and Dr Genny Dixon. In-Focus Report’. April 2016.
About the author
Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx, provider of award-winning online corporate language training.