With the accelerated digital transformation of the workspace, upskilling programs is a must for any organisation. A number of questions tend to come up ranging from selecting the right tech solutions to enhancing learner engagement to achieving business goals. Developing skilling programs by basing it on the KPI and thereby ensuring that it is the right fit for your organisation’s goal and maturity is the priority. In a recent interview with People Matters, Annee Bayeux, Chief Learning Strategist, Degreed advises CLO’s to emphasise on the pull factor of learning programs by developing content relevant to learners and the organisation.
Annee has over 20 years experience in L&D, M&A, Talent, and HR Technologies with Global 2,000 companies such as Bosch Automotive, Alstom, General Electric, and Danone. She has led learning design programs including building group-level HR centers of expertise around design, digital transformation, and HR technology. She has held HR leadership roles in L&D as the CLO of Danone and head of HR Process & Tools at GE. Obsessed with innovation and how new technology impacts society, she now prefers to spend her time evangelizing about the Future of Work and “smart work culture” to anyone who will listen.
Learning and Development is a critical facet of HR when it comes to adapting to the new normal. From your experience, what are some learning objectives that are a must for organisations at this juncture?
Organizations should focus on upskilling the people responsible for change in the company, ready for whatever transformation that they are currently facing. For example, companies that are undergoing digital transformation (especially using remote technologies) often overlook the critical step of making sure people have the right skills. Their HR and change management specialists don’t have the digital and data skills needed to ensure digital transformation is a success.
Conversely, have you upskilled your Agile Coaches in Change Management? These experts tend to understand Agile and Scrum methodologies, but can lack the basic emotional intelligence to identify and address fears and doubts that might arise during upskilling. Creating holistic profiles on your teams with modern tech skills seems, to me, a very important learning objective.
In implementing L&D initiatives, how can organisations go about balancing business goals with personal learning goals of employees?
L&D cannot possibly keep up with the individual and collective learning needs of their entire organization - and with the increasing pace of change, this task is becoming increasingly impossible. Instead of trying to “strike this balance” for employees, it’s much more important to create a “pull” environment where access to both required and desired training can be found and accessed at the same time. Putting “discoverabillity” into the hands of the employees is the best way to maintain balance (and let them decide on the right learning mix).
The ecosystem of available content should also be robust and complete: required or mandatory training should be clear and easily accessible, a wide collection of pathways and learning assets should cover all business and leadership areas, social learning or learning from others should be optimized for creating and sharing content. These factors above all others will drive better ‘pull-to-me’ engagement.
Every individual has their own learning styles and speed which impacts their engagement. What can leaders do to enable the personalisation of learning programs?
Meeting diverse learning styles is not the primary goal of personalization - but it can help a learner to find the right type of content they prefer. The real reason we personalize learning is to adapt content topics to each learner, when and where they need it. Relevancy to the organization and learners is the priority.
The best way to enable this is through technology that helps an L&D team understand what kinds of topics are useful at any given time. Degreed uses cutting edge machine learning to understand the skills signals (where the learner is strong, weak and in need of upskilling) in addition to their learning style, role within the organization, whether they are a people manager. All of these elements influence the content recommended to each individual. This is by far the most effective form of personalization today in the market.
What are some of the challenges that must be addressed when building a learning ecosystem within an organisation?
Many factors can influence the challenges faced, such as the maturity of an organization’s L&D or HR function. This, in turn, impacts learning culture and strategy.
For less mature organizations, primary concerns will center around obtaining buy-in and budget for new, experience-based technologies. A CLO (chief learning officer) might spend a lot of time trying to win over the hearts and minds of their peers. For more mature organizations, implementing a skills strategy across the organization when no one or everyone “owns skills” would be of major concern.
When it comes to judging the ROI of skilling programs, what are some of the strategies that can aid in the process?
The best measures I’ve seen on the market begins by answering the question, “What KPI are we looking to impact?” before starting a skills strategy. Skilling programs that do not start with the KPI are destined to struggle in showing value. CLOs should become performance detectives, asking their stakeholders this key question instead of being order takers, that only listen to the solution instead of co-building it.
I have seen so many CLOs say things like, “Financial directors do not know how to be the strategic development partner to the general manager, let’s build a program to help them become more strategic.” On paper, this makes sense. However, a more impactful approach would be to say “We want financial directors to be involved with 80% of business decisions coming from the general manager”. This gives us a more robust path forward and more importantly, helps us to look at ROI (return on investment) as a predictive indicator of business performance and not a lagging indicator for L&D activity.
Finally, what are some lessons you would like to share with leaders who are investing their efforts to build a learning culture in today’s uncertain times?
There is much that I could share here, but I will focus on the most important lesson: trying to change a learning culture takes time and commitment.
Make sure your plans are the right fit for your organization’s goals and maturity. Don’t be tempted to venture into a ‘culture of learning’ just because everyone seems to be doing it. Instead, take the time to build a real learning strategy that reflects where you, as the CLO, feel you need to lead the company. Then, be explicit about how a shift in your learning culture will impact your plans.
Being a partner to the CEO means understanding business development and the role of skills in that future. The role of the CLO is to clearly articulate this, and find the right culture to boost growth. Culture is not “one-size-fits-all” so your cultural strategy shift should not be a generic, cookie-cutter approach.
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