In An Era Of Talent Development Complexity, Relationships Rule

relationshipsIn today’s dynamic world of work, the shelf life of skills is shrinking. The rise of automation and artificial intelligence threatens to erase not just jobs, but entire job categories and careers. Emerging technologies are fueling the creation of   entirely new career pathways — and demand for skill sets that didn’t exist ten years ago. And as the labor market tightens, employers struggle to fill in-demand roles, the cost of churn is growing. Against that backdrop, talent development has never been more important — or challenging.

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, one of the biggest challenges for talent developers is increasing manager involvement in the learning experience. 56 percent of employees say they would spend time learning if their manager told them to complete a specific course. Gallup’s State of the American Workforce, likewise,found that 70 percent of an employee’s motivation to learn is influenced by her manager.

So how are savvy talent developers collaborating with management to translate individual learning into organizational outcomes?

“A collaborative relationship between talent developers and C-level leaders can have a positive and longstanding impact across the enterprise.”

First, they’re working to ensure managers have the soft skills necessary to be facilitators of meaningful change and growth. ATD has identified five critical soft skills to a manager’s success: Accountability, Communication, Collaboration, Engagement, and Listening & Assessing. Not surprisingly, these skills mirror the latest findings from LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report which found leadership, communication, and collaboration skills to be in greatest demand by executives, people managers, and talent development professionals.

Second, talent development pros are embracing the idea of being a strategic business partner. Relationships with business unit managers offer talent developers insights into the types of learning programs that are needed now and in the future, as well as the metrics of learning success most meaningful to the business. Armed with these insights, managers can help employees feel supported and make learning resemble a relationship rather than a solo activity.

Finally, they’re recognizing that relationships matter. A culture of learning is a hallmark of high-performance organizations, but the learning itself can’t happen in a vacuum. That means that talent development professionals need to embrace the role of relationship facilitator, motivate business leaders to create an organizational culture that links learning to performance, and ensure that their managers are involved.

A collaborative relationship between talent developers and C-level leaders can have a positive and longstanding impact across the enterprise. But that type of alignment cannot happen with one-size-fits-all training or a mindset that views employee learning as a “nice-to-have.” In order to navigate today’s complexities and overcome tomorrow’s challenges, organizational leaders must reinforce the importance of talent development as a strategy to transform the employee experience into one that creates a pervasive culture of learning.