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Learning and Development Is Your Company’s Killer Strategy, But…

Everyone from the CEO to the rank and file knows every organization needs learning and development. But how much do organizations consider it a prime strategy for long-term success and agility?

They say actions speak louder than words. This is true even for learning and development in organizations. Every other HR conference will have a session or two on “learning and development cultures,” “blended learning,” and “mentoring.”

But a 2018 study still showed that 52% of employees surveyed said they need “better upskilling.”

They also agreed that job expectations have shifted in the last three years.

In short, employees need better learning systems to advance not just the organization’s business objectives but their own careers.

A 2019 SHRM survey noted that one-third of managers observed “a decrease in applicant quality across the board.”

On the other hand, 45% noticed lower quality of candidates for specific positions.

The same study revealed that managers across industries identified an undeniable technical skills gap.

In general, hires tended to lack data science or analytical skills.

Interestingly, the top 3 soft skills employees lacked are precisely what Future of Work and Industry 4.0 predictions say will be most needed:

The future is all about learning and development

Futurists say the future will be dominated not by machines but by humans who embody the best about being human.

That’s definitely comforting for someone with a steep learning curve.

Your career and the organization’s trajectory largely depend on learning and development.

MIT scientist and author of The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization Peter Senge, said: “The rate at which organizations learn may become the only sustainable source of competitive advantage.”

More and more companies aren’t rethinking their business strategy.

Investing in learning and development is the business strategy.

But how does an organization juggling the exigencies of day-to-day operations institutionalize learning and development as an unchanging business strategy?

You’re in the middle of a deck that was due yesterday.

There’s a high-level meeting with investors in five — and your notes are still all over the place.

What will empower you to still make time for learning?

Especially when making time for an online learning course seems like the unearned luxury.of the unemployed?

Barriers to learning

A staggering number of employees say the no. 1 reason they fail to learn is the lack of time.

But is it really?

If an organization clearly prioritizes learning and development, what’s stopping employees from learning?

An insightful Harvard Business Review article revealed that what’s often hindering a learning and development culture is precisely the organization’s set ways of doing and thinking.

When new learning happens change is inevitable.

It’s like the proverbial new wine busting the old wine skin.

Sadly, many organizations’ learning and development cultures fail to thrive — or even take off.

And it’s not just because employees are overworked or overwhelmed.

Surprising thing(s) that needs to change

It’s because roles, responsibilities,structures, processes, policies, and leadership styles aren’t expected to change along with the new learning coming in.

Or when team members initiate applying what they’ve learned in the organization, they’re shot down, ignored, or lack support.

Many managers may still be unconsciously looking at learning and development goals as harmless initiatives.

Learning objectives for employees are there simply to ticked off as done.

There’s a wall of inertia surrounding senior leadership when it comes to fostering genuine learning cultures.

The term “learning culture” is a rising buzz word — if it isn’t already.

Yet creating the real deal is not as straightforward as “Send your people to courses and everything will get better.”

A leadership framework for complexity

Leaders need to identify their own “hands-off” issues that no one in the organization wants to talk about.

It could be fuzzy job expectations. Or lingering trust issues because of a lack of transparency.

Some employees find themselves working in companies that insist on operating without clear-cut and articulated values. This could lead to confusion about encouraged behavior and priorities.

Ultimately, making learning and development an honored and effective strategy requires leadership that is fluent in complexity and ambiguity.

The Adaptive Leadership framework, developed by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky at Harvard, equips leaders with mindsets that go beyond the management shortcuts many decision makers resort to.

At the end of the day, a whole lot hinges on leadership.

This includes the success of learning and development as a long-term business strategy.

Find out how we can customize an Adaptive Leadership course for your organization.

By Nirva Delacruz