The ultra-competitiveness, incessant advancement in technology and increasing workforce diversity are on the rise. People are at the centre of all changes and transformations. They can make or mar organizations. Stories of organizational success and failure are scripted based on people’s satisfaction and contribution. The need to make PEOPLE purposeful, passionate and progressive is more today than ever before. There is where Learning and Development(L&D) is poised to play a more prominent role. They are the real game changers who can make people capable to multiply value in challenging times.
As the talent development equation is more mystic than clear, more dynamic than static and surely more complex than simple, I envisage new roles of L&D being scripted. These roles will help in galvanizing not just the function but also business.
L&D function not only aligns with business strategy but also shapes it. CEOs today are interested in bottom line, revenue growth, innovation and customer centricity. For them, people and talent are important agendas which directly impact business. Today L&D is proactively involved in forecasting and delivering work, workplace and workforce needs. Having a performance consultant mindset using an OD lens helps L&D professionals diagnose contextual demands and design best solutions for business. Having continuous conversations with business, help them emerge as competent path finders who understand both the stated and unstated needs. Applying learning analytics to compute ROI helps ascertain value of L&D interventions for dimensions of quality, quantity, time, scale, reaction and more making them more credible. This helps in continuously improving the design and value of the investment and measurable performance of people in the learning experience.
L&D can be the fountain of culture by facilitating a conducive environment where people think, feel and act in ways to stay and soar together
As co-pilots of business they build leadership pipeline for critical positions and develop essential capabilities which help leverage business opportunities. As businesses witness a range of new thrust areas from mergers and acquisitions, diversification, new geography penetration and expansions, L&D function must rise and strategize. Acting as business confidants, they can positively influence the outlook of business and help in continuously raising the bar on how people can contribute towards dynamic business performance. By shaping long term, strategic, ethical and sustainability issues, L&D can multiply business growth and value.
Talent and leadership catalysts
Harnessing people’s strengths and aspirations and converting them to valuable resources is at the core of L&D. Today it’s not about manging training programs or providing training courses. Role of L&D is to design enriched learning and leadership journeys. They are ace content curators and learning resource providers who help sculpt value added learning experiences. Applying principles of design thinking they empathize and prototype personalized learning journeys for diverse audiences across generations and gender. Armed with wide array of technology-enabled and learner centric tools, they amalgamate dimensions of classroom, e-learning, simulation, gamification, coaching, mentoring, bubble assignments, and projects. They strive to create immersive and engaging experiences where learning is transferred. As catalysts they unleash true potential and enable people to become better version of their own selves. I strongly endorse leadership competencies to be developed across levels and not confined to senior positions.
In fact, in most organizations talent and leadership development is viewed as a critical component of Total Rewards. Providing impetus to learning in informal settings and contexts is rewarding. L&D can provide people best learning moments at work by providing opportunities to experience stimuli through multi sources. From macro to micro, chunk to byte, classroom to on the job, learning happens when people are on the go and in the flow. L&D should enable realization of individual development plans by providing resources and support for talent to flourish. Linking learning and performance can put the spotlight on learning. Not just high potential leaders, solid citizens who stay and contribute need to be developed to become better versions of themselves. These endeavours help in enhancing the brand value of the business.
Culture is what we learn and not something we are born with. Learning must be continuous rather than episodic. L&D can be the fountain of culture by facilitating a conducive environment where people think, feel and act in ways to stay and soar together. Giving life and meaning to organizational values, processes and practices by developing corporate citizens is championed by L&D. Penetration and internalization of values is beyond formal on-boarding programs. It is fostered through sharing stories and celebrating successes. Capability developed through communities of practice and social learning is powerful. These informal learning methods provide impetus to curiosity. When people feel empowered to question and explore the known and unknown, intellectual restless results and learning becomes a habit.
L&D can make high impact to business by nurturing a winning culture. Scripting winning cultures where people decode and disseminate what makes them succeed is an important contribution. Sharing stories of success and adversity can help in scoring more, stretching higher and soaring beyond. When companies go global and workforce virtual and millennials in the workforce are on the rise, role of L&D in building and sustaining a values-based inclusive culture based on social purpose is crucial. During M&As, L&D can play a role in evangelizing culture integration by ironing out cultural dissonance, clashes and confusion. Augmenting collaborative learning can help employees can align with their new roles, bond with their new colleagues and contribute towards changing business goals in such scenarios.
L&D plays a dynamic role in change by focusing on people and culture who are at the heart of organizational development and transformation. The more connected and conversant people are towards change, easier it for them to adopt and manage it. L&D significantly contributes in making change happen by honing both mindsets and skillsets. Unlearning and Relearning must be emphasized over learning and upskilling and reskilling over skilling in changing times. Enabling people to visualize and execute change in today’s volatile world is increasingly difficult. L&D interventions targeted at creating awareness and desire for change can open minds, hearts and create willingness for change. Nudging people to think and explore can evoke drawing of critical insights. Providing exposure and experience to diverse and demanding roles can help people learn how to learn. People can stretch their imaginations of thinking and acting with alacrity when provided with opportunities of working on break -through projects. People, teams and organizations can become change ready when they learn to overcome resistance and gain momentum for change. In my experience, developing finer nuances of human intelligence can help in moving the needle in digital transformations. Both hard and soft skills contribute in developing outside in and inside out perspectives for leading change. Creative pursuits, innovation strategies and new business models using digital tenets can result from the learning experiences of people both inside and outside classrooms.
Enabling people to visualize and execute change in today's volatile world is increasingly difficult. L&D interventions targeted at creating awareness and desire for change can open minds, hearts and create willingness for change
Today L&D is one the most vital and value adding HR function. L&D professionals need to be strategic and creative. They need to operate systemically. Having vertical fitment with business and horizontal fitment with other HR functions. As dynamic players, they should be in quest of adding value in changing contexts. As valuable integrators they can help connect people, technology, strategy and business in symphony. Having flair and ability to draw insights from best practices and design best fits for people and organizations will be useful. Most importantly they themselves need to be perpetual learners who seek to learn from both theory and practice and life and work. I believe, they need to take charge by initiating actions for generating excitement and energy for business results. They can create learning organizations which will succeed by cherishing and celebrating, learning is growth and growth is Life. Playing roles and demonstrating competencies extolled will truly galvanize L&D. This will future proof organizations and help them succeed in turbulent times.