The continued march of digital communications is heralding the emergence of a nation of digital natives. Despite belonging to different cultures, they speak a similar language and are comfortable communicating both physically or virtually. In this environment, creative friction is being encouraged to solve problems and deal with risk at the same time.
This transformation to digital has caused an upheaval in the way organisations invest in the passion, potential, performance and productivity of their people. These rapid changes are forcing enterprises to think differently about competence, creativity, contribution and commitment. As a result, HR professionals are being asked what role learning and development will play in shaping the future.
It’s critical to retain a learner-centric approach to training while responding to the needs of the business with the requisite agility. The HR professional accountable for learning needs to focus on being a development architect rather than a trainer – someone who is simply producing and distributing content, courses and opportunities. The new primary goal is to build capacity and ability at the right time, in the right place, with the right skill and at the right cost. To enable learning and development fit for the modern workforce, enterprises need to address the following three key areas:
1) Teaching employees how to learn and tooling them up
Most employees fail to realise the value of their formal and informal learning experiences. Leaders must change the way the learning function is designed and delivered, so it proactively helps employees to learn by addressing their aspirations.
The next step is to curate, direct and align the supply of learning solutions as per the current and aspired role of each employee. Targeted development supports both the learners and the business to grow.
2) Coaching in real-time
The act of mentoring has to be seamlessly integrated into each employee’s work-life cycle. It needs to be issue and incident-based, rather than focusing on annual developmental review sessions. Today’s multi-generational workforce expects mentoring to be made available proactively by peers, direct reports, managers and leaders.
3) Making it multiplayer
Some experts predict that the workforce of the future will integrate gaming technology to simplify complex information and make it more accessible; those who grew up playing multiplayer computer games are likely to welcome this approach.
Forming temporary teams, collaborating across functions and distance, and distributing decision making will become the norm. The workforce of the future will likely be less responsive to getting their information through speaker-centric, linear cognitive tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint, and more receptive to the holistic information transfer typical of computer gaming.
Ultimately, it is essential that a large part of learning on the job comes through interaction with peers, experts and managers. These discussions will only continue to increase with access to an increasing number of digital platforms. Progressive organisations are creating and investing in making internal platforms the preferred media for corporate communications; making it far easier to build connections within teams, and form global communities between employees with diverse views on similar matters of interest.
Moreover, this approach helps the crowd-sourcing of insights related to client opportunities and career options, and improves connections with role models that can mentor others across geographies and cultures. Success can only be achieved in these three key areas if an emphasis is put on collaboration; rather than taking learners into siloes, technology should bring their insight and knowledge together.