Learning Experience Director The Canonbury Consultancy Group
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Choosing the correct pathway
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Internal mobility: how L&D must evolve to support agile talent development pathways

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To ensure organisations are fit for the future, L&D professionals must create more agile development pathways to effectively grow and nurture talent from within.

5th May 2021
Learning Experience Director The Canonbury Consultancy Group
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The advent of Covid-19 has given a stark reminder to businesses worldwide about the importance of internal mobility to boost business flexibility. Companies across the globe have had to make rapid changes to working patterns, roles, responsibilities, and outputs. Many have had to change their business models and strategies entirely. Usually such an evolution occurs over successive generations or business cycles within an organisation – it rarely happens overnight. While many believe that this pandemic-enforced evolution is complete, I counter that it is not, and that organisations can still evolve to improve their talent mobility.

Learning strategies that do not produce results in the new working environment we find ourselves in will quickly be discarded

The importance of such strategic changes cannot be ignored, as how organisations respond during this time of economic uncertainty will determine their survival. Pandemics aren’t even that rare, with six already taking place within my lifetime (and I’m only in my 30s). Granted, this is the largest and most prevalent pandemic in the last 100 years, however, it is far from ‘unprecedented’ and therefore organisations must continue to review their strategies.

Agile talent development pathways are required to make this happen. Your learning offering must adapt to survive. This article will consider the stages at which you should be adjust your approach.

1. Less is more

For learning programmes to be successful, learners should be able to assess content (in whatever form that is presented) and define if it is useful. This is not the time for vanity content to boost metrics. There is no point in employees attempting to wade through a thousand pieces of content to build their pathway when less than a hundred pieces of relevant content would suffice. When reviewing relevant content, it is not just about suitability, but also adaptability, flexibility and the ability to update it.

Understanding your organisation’s teams, the development they need, the type of learning that would be most productive, and how to develop that content will put your organisation at the forefront of their marketplace. Then the titling and tagging of the content is crucial to ensure that learners are able to identify it quickly to slot into their chosen pathway.

2. Pick and mix is preferable

Those with a learning design background will know that storing face-to-face designed content in an LMS style online repository is simply not effective. Instead, the type, style and presentation of the content should be designed with the learning outcomes and the audience in mind as well as the setting it is intended for. The content should be bitesize, accessible and associated with other pieces of content selected for the needs of the learner.

Linear journeys through content can be lengthy and too rigid for the types of talent mobility needed. Instead, smaller, portable, interchangeable chunks of content are ideal. Mapping the content to identify pathways is beneficial not only for the learner to navigate but also for you to certify that you have all the required content for the pathways.

3. Role relevancy

Harking from the Japanese ‘just in time’ approach, this stage relies on undertaking realistic reviews about what learning and development is specifically needed for current and future role provision only. (Caveat: compliance training must always be done). This is to ensure that the development being taken by employees is targeted and concise. It then allows movement in the allocation of training days (as only targeted training is delivered/consumed) and also movement within pathways to provide clear direction as to what routes are needed for roles or achievement of successful strategies.

4. Blend it and flip it

I’m a massive advocate of blended and flipped classroom learning. Whilst there has been a cultural shift towards online learning due to the pandemic, online learning in isolation is not a panacea. Not everything can or should be learned online, and an element of face-to-face learning is required to reinforce or practice the online learning provision. Flipped classrooms also allow organisations to address the issues of smaller face-to-face workshops in responsive timeframes and ensure that practical skills are blended on the foundations of theoretical knowledge. This combination of skills and knowledge will help organisations to move forward stronger in these uncertain times.

5. Delete vanity metrics

If your focus is on developing agile talent development pathways to aid talent mobility and increase profitability and efficiencies within your company, that is what you should be measuring. Many L&D metrics are heavily focused on completion and not engagement or application. If the learning is not engaged with or applied then there can’t be talent mobility, profitability or efficiencies.

It does mean ripping up the rulebook with regards to traditional L&D metrics, as the metrics you need to be focusing on are the ones that truly matter to your organisation. For example, mapping learners on their pathways against their actual work performance is a more important metric than course completion. Application of learning is the measurement to capture.

Survival of the L&D fittest

As we all know, evolution is nothing new. Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species stated: “I think it inevitably follows, that as new species in the course of time are formed through natural selection, others will become rarer and rarer, and finally extinct. The forms which stand in closest competition with those undergoing modification and improvement will naturally suffer most”.

In a learning context, we can surmise that learning strategies that do not produce results in our new working environment will quickly be discarded. To ensure organisations are fit for the future, L&D professionals need to make sure that their learning offering evolves accordingly.

Interested in this topic? Read How to implement and measure a learning culture that addresses organisational skills gaps.

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