Over the last 18 months, most businesses had the opportunity to optimize their business operations. Throughout this time, companies have optimized their talent strategies, reassessed their digital strategy, products, and services, scaled up operations, and identified new market opportunities. At the heart of these shifts is a workplace culture that supports continuous learning that is agile, adaptive, and resilient.
At the opening keynote of the India edition of Skillsoft’s Perspectives Conference 2021, Ester Martinez, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, People Matters spoke about “Why its important to build a culture of learning, and how to build it.” Here are some key takeaways from her session:
Work, skills, and the workplace
As businesses resume ‘back to office’ operations, it’s not going to be business as usual in a pre-pandemic sense. “Work is going to be about what I do, not a place I go to,” Ester noted. The real opportunity for businesses to consider is to rethink the workplace – as a place to foster team engagement, co-create strategy and to collaborate on innovation.
The critical questions that HR leaders need to think about is:
- How to architect work?
- What are the skills that employees need to navigate work?
- How do you enable employees to organize their work, and personal life?
The pandemic has helped companies learn a lot about work-life. There’s a need to reflect on how much work can be done synchronously and asynchronously? And what are the capabilities and skills that are needed to help people work in both dimensions? Finding the right blend of synchronous, and asynchronous dimensions in work and learning will be necessary in the new work context.
An opportunity to reboot culture
Ester encouraged the audience to think about the skills that are going to be relevant for work. “The first one is about mindset, and I think that’s going to be the toughest one,” she said.
Apart from that, “Learning agility is going to be critical for all levels,” she added. The focus with skilling efforts must extend from just thinking about competency frameworks and methodologies, to thinking about flexibility and agility in learning.
These skills also open the opportunity to revisit leadership. The pandemic has differentiated the types of leaders. Resilient leaders showed flexibility, agility and they were able to find problems, solve them and bounce back, while being open to unlearn.
Leaders also need to re-architect the way they communicate to reactivate their leadership style. They have to have the courage to say, “I don’t understand, and I haven’t encountered this before,” Ester noted. “This doesn’t put them in a position of authority, but instead it allows for diverse perspectives and allows for collective intelligence. And that’s a critical dimension in building a culture of learning,” she said.
While productivity will continue to be a key focus area in the post pandemic world of learning, there’s also a need to focus on innovation. “Without innovation, we will not be able to sustain business in the future,” Ester said.
In closing, Ester highlighted the importance of the current time to break away from the past – and build an ecosystem that fundamentally changes the way employees work. And it should instil energy, agility, productivity, and innovation in the process of building speed and acceleration in the business.