Looking at Talent – How far Have We Come?

As we approach the New Year, I wanted to take a closer look at what’s been driving HR and L&D over the past 12 months. Our annual talent management conference Speexx Exchange on the eve of OEB in Berlin offered an exciting day of networking, discussion, and fresh insights. I’m pleased to share some of the thoughts that were raised on the day. For me, the breadth and depth of conversation, as well as the wide range of countries, industries, and roles represented deeply reflected the voice of global HR and L&D professionals.

Laura Overton, Managing Director of Towards Maturity started the forum by asking one simple question, “What do you want to do differently as a result of today?” Although the answers were highly diverse, some common patterns emerged very quickly.  I’ve summarized these objectives, as well as some practical solutions that emerged on the day

Small steps in the right direction

One major issue for many organizations seemed to be simply ‘getting started’ with digital learning. This involves numerous, challenges such as figuring out what works, how useful each solution is and finding the right tool for the right job. Clearly, there is still a long way to go for organizations to become well-versed in e-learning and measuring its benefits. Some initial actions would be to look at what the top-performing organizations are doing in this respect, to have clear targets and KPI’s and to get management involved in supporting the initiative.

Empowering communication in the workplace

Another area where HR and L&D experts see room for improvement is ‘communication and collaboration’. Despite living in a globalized and digitalised economy with suppliers, partners and clients all over the world, many employees are yet to be empowered with strong business communication skills and cultural awareness to make things flow. We can deal with this by offering a global language and communication skills solution for all employees, agreeing on a standardized business glossary and training our staff in cultural awareness. Furthermore, peer-to-peer collaboration tools will also help to strengthen ties among employees.

Staying close to the business

This is a huge one and was cited many times throughout the day. Early results of the Speexx Exchange 2015-16 Survey also reveal that ‘aligning training with business needs’ is the top challenge HR and L&D Managers predict for the coming year, cited by 27% of survey respondents. Business alignment goes hand in hand with understanding an organization’s priorities and adapting its talent strategy to move in the same direction. It also requires speed, adaptability and being able to work with data in real time.

Learning beyond the course

Courses aren’t everything, as was shown by Yves Boudib, Senior L&D Manager at LG Electronics in his presentation on 70:20:10. According to this framework, around 70% of learning actually happens outside the classroom in our daily work, e.g. through trial and error or by solving complex problems without the support of others. The challenge now for HR and L&D leaders is to embed learning and development into everyday work life, as well as encouraging social learning (20%), where peers exchange knowledge and share best practice. We no longer need to rely on classroom training alone to maximise our talent, but frameworks such as 70:20:10 can only be achieved through a refined strategy with clear objectives which are communicated across the organisation and backed by management.

It’s all in the design

Finally, corporate learners need great learning tools – both in terms of content and delivery. It’s something that’s high up on all L&D lists at the moment. This includes shifting from offline to online solutions, making learning more engaging for employees and is also connected to learning beyond the classroom, as mentioned in the previous section. Organizations should approach the design question by calling to all senses (hearing, seeing, etc.) and making learning user-friendly, autonomous, fun and even competitive. It also needs to be right for the particular target group it addresses, as well as culturally sensitive.

We still have a long way to go. The business landscape is constantly changing and it’s not always easy to keep up. Nevertheless, I’m more encouraged than ever by the brilliant discussions and results I saw at Speexx Exchange this year. Big things are already happening in organizations across all industries, and the more we collaborate, the more we will continue to grow. So roll on 2016!

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About the Author:

Armin is Founder and President of Speexx, the world’s leading online language learning and business communication skills training service. He writes and occasionally speaks about learning languages online and the secret of the Perfect Blend and global talent management, Speexx, e-learning and generally believes in the power of communication. Follow Armin on Twitter and LinkedIn.