Article: 3 learning opportunities amid crisis: Udemy's Gail Matthey

Learning & Development

3 learning opportunities amid crisis: Udemy's Gail Matthey

Self-mastery, collaboration, and hybrid roles are the new fundamentals of L&D, says Udemy for Business's Gail Matthey, speaking at the People Matters L&D SEA Conference.
3 learning opportunities amid crisis: Udemy's Gail Matthey

Crisis and opportunity are two sides of the same coin: whenever there is rapid change and upheaval, new openings are created to do something better. Earlier this year, Udemy for Business released its Workplace Learning Trends Report for 2020, bringing under the spotlight several key areas that affected learning at work during the year. At the People Matters L&D SEA Conference on March 4, Gail Matthey, Customer Success Manager, APAC, Udemy for Business, highlighted three key findings of the report that are particularly pertinent to today's post-pandemic situation: self-mastery, collaboration, and hybrid technology.

Self-mastery: the basis for good mental health and productivity

Strong mental health and sound productivity skills are crucial traits for success at every level of the organization, according to Udemy research. And what this means, says Matthey, is that competence is not just about having the skills that match the job description: “Competence is about all the elements that make that strong, healthy and productive employee.”

And 2020, she says, was a year when people began to rely very heavily on these elements. Udemy's figures show “unprecedented increases” in the popularity of self development skills such as time management, self discipline, and resilience. Anxiety management training in particular saw a 4,000 percent increase in takeup rates.

How can HR and L&D professionals administer training in self-mastery skills, given that it is not the kind of competency usually pegged to work requirements? Matthey has a few suggestions:

  1. Identify these skills as critical development requirements for your learners

  2. Make the learning available

  3. Make it accessible to learners

  4. Make employee well-being a key part of the learning strategy

Collaboration: meeting the need for human connection

Remote work has undoubtedly been very beneficial to the majority of employers and employees, and it has certainly provided business advantages in the form of greatly increased productivity. But it also comes with downsides, most noticeably isolation and a loss of personal interaction.

Part of the issue, says Matthey, is that communication in the virtual world is very different—it lacks the immediacy of in-person contact, nuance is not easily conveyed or interpreted, and misunderstandings and conflicts are more difficult to resolve. L&D professionals need to help people re-learn business communication; they need to find ways of helping people maintain work relationships; they need to manage the knowledge transfer between team mates, subject matters experts, and new hires when those are onboarded.

“Your learning strategy must have methods to ensure your team has the tools and the means to develop new ways to collaborate,” she says. “You cannot run your office the way you used to because it is not the way it used to be.”

Hybrid technology and the hybrid roles that result

As jobs and technology alike become more complex, it is no longer possible to bring a single skill into the organization and call it good: that single skill is now just one component of the capabilities required for the job role. Matthey says: “The advancement in technology and how it is used globally requires hybrid tech roles to be an essential part of your business.

This, of course, raises the question of how to identify the skills needed, and how to replace them if someone in such a role leaves the organization. Matthey shares a simple model for doing so:

  1. Identify exactly what skills are required within each job role

  2. Categorize these skills into key roles: for example, database developer versus tester versus customer support

  3. Determine the level of expertise required in a particular skill for any given role

  4. Assess team members holding that role on their level of competency in that skill

This model, says Matthey, allows quick and easy identification of skill gaps. More importantly, it shows where roles overlap, and how they can be modified or combined, or how people can move between them.

“Cross-skilling, upskilling, or diagonal-skilling your staff has so many benefits to you, to them, and to the organization,” she says. “It can become a key part of your career planning and your succession planning strategies.”

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Topics: Learning & Development, Skilling, #PMLnDSEA

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