Continuous Learning and Development: A Pillar in Talent Management Strategy

How many times have you taken a course on a subject you needed to be proficient in only to forget most of what you learned by the time you had to apply the newly attained knowledge and skill? More than ever, today’s rapidly changing business world with its related skill shortages requires real-time training, and learning and development (L&D) must be continuous and available in case we forget… or our skills obsolesce against evolving industry skill requirements.

Analysts say classroom learning is still a reality, but cost and practicality can create damaging delays because today’s business climate demands the ability to move quickly toward a pursuit. Traditional learning approaches are far too sluggish to address this need for continuity, speed and real-time reinforcement. Classroom training, while still mainstream, requires advance notice, travel and instructor time, and it’s expensive and cannot accommodate every individual’s schedule, especially in distributed, multinational organizations. For this reason, the nature of L&D is changing through the concept of self-directed learning, which employs digital technology to offer learning programs or short tutorials when traditional sessions typically are not available, or when your personnel in the field can’t access their desktop computers.

What good is self-directed learning, however, if the content we learners require isn’t expansive, detailed or focused enough to cover situations that might come up in our fast-paced jobs? Or what if our organization’s learning curriculum cannot adapt or grow in time? This is where the notion of integrated talent and learning management systems becomes appealing. It gives you the captured and shared expertise of your entire workforce, the ability to gauge L&D needs at a strategic or an individual level, and the ability to easily fortify employees with the tools and content they need to self-direct their careers, no longer hindered by the fixed nature of scheduled classroom and online courses.

Integrated Learning and Talent Management

Learning has long been considered a component of the talent management discipline, and the following downloadable white paper shares plenty of arguments as to why L&D is an essential piece of your talent management efforts. Some analyst firms, such as Fosway Group, go so far as to say L&D is an engine and driver for performance.

Bersin by Deloitte talks about a goal of integrated talent management with learning based smack in the center, which makes me think of learning as the main gear for the other important talent management/corporate performance spokes, including onboarding, performance management and succession planning, with the system “cycling” back to workforce planning and event recruiting. Yes, L&D matters to recruiting, too.

L&D integrated with your talent management system empowers you to:

  • Continuously fortify your organization with the skills needed for corporate performance and strategic forays. This can be achieved by tying fluid L&D plans into business intelligence, strategy and short- and longer-term corporate objectives.
  • Tailor L&D program to personalized employee needs via integrated talent database information about each learner, and through AI, automation, an intuitive user interface (UI), and secure application programming interfaces (APIs) connecting to third-party providers.
  • Catalogue and categorize for easy adoption and use by employees. You don’t want your engaged learners discouraged by having to search deep for what they need to develop their careers. Like with employee portals, the learning interface must be organized and customizable to meet diverse, multinational workforce needs. Curation will be particularly important as you grow your L&D and training library because it will aid in cost-effective reuse of effective L&D content.
  • Make your L&D offerings ubiquitous, continuous, shrinkable and potentially viral. Today’s learning requirements are not confined to points in time, space or matter. L&D should be able to leave the physical world at times, to meet the needs of your distributed global workforce. Give your field workers and mobile warriors a chance to connect and get the real-time information they need to accomplish a task and self-develop rapidly through quick and efficient learning doses.
  • Make the interface smart, so when your employee visits the portal a history of learning achievement and logical next steps are there to greet him or her. The better the UI the better the user experience, continued adoption and collaborative and productive potential of the tool.
  • Measure learning efficacy and provide continuous feedback. L&D management should be fluid, helping to regularly determine what’s working and what is not  .
  • Connect learning progress into career development and succession planning. As the engaged learner develops skills, his or her name and qualifications will show up for new roles in the organization, including promotions. Conversely, the organization can drive the process as part of a plan in which it develops individuals with the skills needed to meet succession needs or future strategic roles.
  • Fuel recruitment, too. Authentic L&D as part of talent management can represent a recruitment strength. Ambitious and talented people will join your organization because they crave new skills, career possibilities and personal development opportunities.
  • Last, but not least, ensure your learning management system provides strong mobile support for a distributed and active workforce. It’s the same “anytime, anywhere” access we are accustomed to in our daily lives so why not for corporate learning as well?

Adoption is almost never 100 percent when you put a toolset in front of a large, distributed workforce. As users, we already have a dozen or more different log-ins to remember and dissimilar environments in which to work. L&D inside your talent management system can help reduce this complexity, and in the following white paper you’ll see why leading analysts prescribe integrated learning and talent management for the future.