As a business leader, you know just how crucial developing your talent is to grow a successful enterprise. You might have encouraged staff to take the time to attend an industry conference, poured significant resources in online tutorials and implemented coursework so that your employees are up to speed with in-demand industry skills.
The adoption of ever-evolving technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) is likely providing an even greater impetus to upskill your workers. AI can serve as an integral tool for customer service management, and by providing real-time coaching and forecasts can often reduce costs.
It’s not unusual for business leaders to feel that despite the significant investmenst made in technology, the efforts haven't exactly yielded the results they were hoping for. Perhaps there are still gaps in skill sets or know-how, or they weren't able to sufficiently prepare promising, existing talent to move up to vacant managerial spots.
How can you make sure you get what you put in? Here's how you can zero in on what's most important for the success of your company.
Sync talent development with business needs and goals
HR professionals and CEOs agree that leadership capability is an important and urgent challenge. However, many companies find a disconnect between the programs HR provides and the actual skills a business needs to effectively implement a company's goals and strategies.
To turn this around, directly connect leadership development of your people with core initiatives and upcoming goals. What are you aiming to achieve in the next quarter? In the next six months? The next year?
The greater the connection to actual outcomes and key performance indicators of your business, the deeper the engagement of your leaders and in turn, the greater the potential to develop your employees.
Shift toward informal learning tactics
Skip the formal coursework and lean instead toward a more casual mode of learning. For instance, in lieu of taking a lengthy course, implement micro-training in which an employee can pull bits of information and training that can be directly applied to their day-to-day challenges on the job.
Human interaction and connectivity can also be integrated. Adhering to a "teach, don't tell" philosophy will allow employees to shadow higher-ups and leaders, which will help talented employees absorb knowledge quickly and gain valuable on-the-job experience—literally.
Workers can also simplify learning using "gamification," which applies the concept of game-play with rules, scoring, and competition to boost engagement among users. Access is another important factor here—the simpler, the better, specifically if learning modules can be completed on employees' smartphones or tablets.
Learning via mobile platforms is particularly impactful for companies with a robust number of employees out in the field, or those with an extensive pool of staff who work in stores. That way, the majority of workers can have access to training.
Think of developing talent as a long game
By thinking of education as a lifelong journey, you can think of the role you play in developing skills amongst your talent. To start, collaborate with places that are cultivating these skills—universities, labour unions and technical and trade schools that have access to a pool of skilled workers. Next, find ways to integrate your efforts with these outside entities in order to get these skilled personnel up to speed with the demands of the market.
Adapt systems and processes that enable change
Providing opportunities to learn new skills is one thing. But having an organization with the right culture, infrastructure and processes to foster leadership is another.
Successful development programs also adapt HR systems to support their initiatives, requiring participants to apply their learnings in new settings over an extended period and to practice them in their job.
Another thing to consider: The use of talent management systems backed by data. This real-time information can boost the number of people who are evaluated against new competencies, which can help ensure that you are funneling your efforts in the right areas.
It's no doubt frustrating to dump a lot of resources into talent development only to miss the mark. By evolving your approach—specifically, by better aligning your learning modules and HR programs with your current business needs, taking the long-view at where your efforts fit into your talent's lifelong education and continuing to adapt and evolve—you'll be able to optimize your investment in cultivating leadership.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.