The (re)evolution of L&D in 2015
Talent professionals are now looking at formulating high-potential plans to develop bench strength and focus on grooming not only current leaders but also the next-in-line
Learning and Development (L&D) has emerged as one of the main differentiators in our knowledge economy. As more companies recognize this, more time, effort and investments are being made in it. A host of new ideas, theories, tools and methodologies aiming to improve the L&D managers ROI, resource utilization and end results have emerged. The past year saw some budding concepts of 2013 grow into major trends and this gave us a good insight into what should be prioritized going ahead. The goals for L&D have not changed drastically, but rather the focus is on meeting the same or similar primary objectives in newer ways with smarter methods.
The main questions are what and who to focus on developing? We examine the key issues and challenges that HR faces today, from improving employee productivity, motivation and communication to lowering attrition. Moreover, what can be done to optimize L&D efforts?
What to focus on
To cope with the talent-scarce scenario that is one of the most pressing HR issues, the main areas to invest in for 2015 are:
Leadership competencies. Organizations are increasingly facing a leadership crisis where the skills for critical thinking, engaging others and visioning are in short supply. The ability to communicate the larger organizational vision, connect with all employee levels and generate buy-in has necessitated that leadership capabilities be the core competency that L&D focuses on in the coming year.
Employee engagement. As per the Dale Carnegie Employee Engagement Study 2014, 54% of the Indian workforce is not fully engaged at work. Disengaged employees tend to be poor performers, stirring up resentment, which leads to employee attrition. L&D departments have traditionally tried to increase engagement in a number of ad-hoc ways, but now the trend of implementing complete engagement solutions is increasing significantly. These holistic solutions include assessments, company-specific analysis, benchmarking and targeted interventions followed by pulse surveys.
Who to focus on
Senior leadership. Millennials are increasingly defined by their love for autonomy, focus on merit over tenure and aspiration to be part of making a difference. There is a big gap in their learning patterns and preferences compared to that of older management. Developing senior leaders will help the multi-generational workforce get clear direction and role-modeling from the top.
High potentials. Most leading organizations already have a high performer program in place to reward, recognize and retain the best, but many of them are not consistent in their plan for high potentials. HR finds itself struggling to replace managers and leaders who have moved on from the organization. Talent professionals are now looking at formulating high-potential plans to develop bench strength and focus on grooming not only current leaders but also the next-in-line.
Optimize, optimize, optimize…
New forms of delivery. Employees should know not only what to learn, but also how to learn. Organizations rely heavily on Instructor-Led Training, along with the use of various audiovisual aids and reading material. The use of newer, more technology-oriented mediums of delivering enterprise learning is still nascent in India. These cost-efficient solutions could be better for self-paced learning but are hampered by poor connectivity and have shown reduced efficacy during simulations or live practice applications. Live Online Training combines the best of both worlds. It is capable of including virtual teams, peer learning and demonstrative exercises as well as cutting down on extra costs like infrastructure and transportation.
Partner selection. L&D investment should strike a balance between measurable impact and program cost while addressing learning needs. Up until now, talent managers were adopting a pickand- choose selection from several vendors to meet diverse requirements. But we are seeing a shift toward a more one-stop-shop approach — choosing consultative partners who can assess and provide services across levels, locations and competencies.
Learning professionals must work closely with their corporate heads to set the right goals, assess the important gaps, choose the ideal partners, technology and programs to develop their people. With the support of these, L&D can reinvent the way organizations view talent development.