Why It's Time to Disrupt the Traditional Approach to L&DAdd bookmark
Employees crave opportunities to learn and grow.
Modern workers, in particular, want to work for a company that offers new horizons and challenges. They yearn to do more and become more.
And if their workplace doesn't provide these opportunities, they'll find one that does. In fact, the number one reason people change jobs today is for "career growth opportunities."
But employee development is more than a vital attraction and retention strategy. It's also a forward-thinking business strategy.
The future of work will be more nimble, complex, digital and collaborative than ever before. For employees, the demands of this future environment will be considerable and constantly changing.
Consequently, if leaders don't change the way they approach development, they cannot expect sustained performance excellence.
Make no mistake, modes of delivery have evolved greatly–i.e., virtual learning, micro-learning, e-learning, gamification–as organizations seek to deliver relevant, on-demand learning.
But it's not enough.
The content and design of current approaches to employee development, which emphasize fixed knowledge and skill acquisition, is what misses the mark.
Why? Most employee learnings are rooted in traditional assumptions that newly acquired skills and knowledge:
- are the primary differentiator of success in a given role
- are not subject to change, at least not imminent change
These assumptions put employees and organizations behind before they even begin. In agile, fast-paced workplaces, skills can quickly become obsolete. So by the time an employee learns how to do something, the requirement may have changed.
In other words, today's workplaces evolve too rapidly and are too complex to offer nothing more than how-to learning experiences.
Rather than focusing on knowledge and skills, organizations need to equip employees with mindsets that encourage their success. It's the difference between telling employees what to do and teaching employees how to think.
This approach requires instilling shared enterprise mindsets and capabilities–like the ability to "learn to learn" and to lead change.
To get there, leaders should consider the following strategies:
- Define performance-driving mindsets.
- Prioritize transformational over transactional development.
- Don't just help employees learn; contribute to their growth.
Define Performance-Driving Mindsets
Employees need to clearly understand performance expectations–what success looks like in their role. But describing outcomes of excellence is just step one.
To tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow, employees need to be empowered with mindsets and strategies that help them thrive–no matter what gets thrown at them.
It's up to leaders to identify the mindsets and shared ways of thinking that will enable employees to make outcome-driving decisions in the midst of change.
These mindsets should align with and support the organization's purpose, brand and culture.
For example, Amazon's famous Leadership Principles are transparent organizational mindsets that guide employee decision-making and behavior.
Prioritize Transformational Over Transactional Development
Having defined the organizational mindsets that stoke performance, leaders should make the training and development of those mindsets a formative learning experience for employees.
By instilling the right mindsets before providing functional skills training, organizations lay a foundation for performance and set the stage for ongoing development.
For example, before teaching managers the steps in a change management framework, organizations should fundamentally shift their mindset about how to lead effectively through change.
Before teaching front-line servers the menu and standard operating procedures, leaders should develop a mindset of service excellence among them.
Don't Just Help Employees Learn; Contribute to Their Growth
In today's hyperconnected world, opportunities to learn are a dime a dozen.
The ability to translate that learning to growth is what will differentiate world-class organizations from the competition.
To make the leap from learning to growth, leaders must position their employees to put these mindsets to work (pun intended) right away.
On a micro level, this means prioritizing action learning and application activities as highly as course curricula.
On a macro level, leaders should ensure their organization's culture, systems, processes and technology align with and support shared mindsets.
The changing nature of work is disrupting job demands across every organizational function–and learning and development is not immune.
To keep up, organizations must invest in preparing ready-now and future-ready workers, with development that transforms employees into capable, agile performers.
This article, by Mara Hoogerhuis and Baily Nelson, originally appeared on Gallup here.