Why is this important?
The best organizations have high performing learning and development (L&D) departments. There is a direct correlation between organizations that are successful and how much value they place on L&D. Many organizations are struggling with finding the right people to fill technical jobs due to the shortage of skilled workers to fill those jobs. Organizations have two choices, either fill the jobs with people who are external to the organization or within the organization. Either choice leads to L&D. Recent graduates working in their first job, skilled workers from another company, or internal employees who are transferring to a new position all may require additional training and development to perform in their new roles. Each situation has implications for the CLO.
What do CLOs do?
The Chief Learning Officer (CLO) role in addition to the staff that supports the role are responsible for providing L&D programs to ensure that the workforce has the right knowledge and skills. Having a workforce with the right knowledge and skills has a tremendous impact on how an organization performs and achieves results which is why the CLO role is so important.
CLOs provide strategic alignment and direction for learning initiatives and their links with the corporate direction. They ensure that L&D initiatives and priorities address business challenges and are not done just to check a box. CLOs ensure that employees have competency models and career paths that facilitate continuous career and professional development for all employees. Access to career development opportunities is a key driver to having an engaged workforce. In fact according to the National Research Business Institute, 23% of employees leave jobs due to lack of development opportunities.
What keeps them up at night?
Here’s a list of a few challenges that are keeping CLOs up at night. It is not enough just identify the challenges that CLOs face, but it is necessary to provide a list of resources to assist with addressing these challenges.
- Adding value by creating learning and development solutions to address business challenges with shrinking budgets. CLOs have to find ways to work with organizations in providing the right solutions that are most cost effective. Alignment between learning solutions and business needs is the only way for CLOs to truly add value. For advice on How to Run Learning Like a Business, read Tracey Wik’s article. Read Human Capital Management’s (HCM) white paper, called Delivering Value.
- Demonstrating success in learning investments using analytics and measurement. How do you know if you’re meeting your customer’s needs if you do not measure outcomes against customer expectations? Read Jay Cross’ article, Would You Recommend Your L&D Department? for a possible solution.
- Making training fun and engaging. Many people have had unpleasant training experiences and lack enthusiasm about attending in-house training. One sure way to ensure that your L&D programs will not add value is if people do not show up. For possible solutions, read Chris Bates’ article on Engaging Your Team via On-Site Training.
- Staying abreast of the latest trends in learning. These three trends that are shaping learning, MOOCs, digital badges, and competency-based learning. The field of L&D is evolving to talent development. The leading professional organization in the L&D field has a new name, Association for Talent Development (ATD) (formerly American Society for Training and Development, ASTD) as a result of the changes in the field. CLOs have to stay current in order to lead their organizations in the right direction.
- Finding the right balance between facilitating informal and formal learning using technology. In order for CLOs to be successful, they have to know what learning technology is available and how to leverage it to achieve key goals. Chief Learning Officer Magazine Technology section has numerous articles is a way to find and learn about technology solutions..
- Facilitating effective training transfer. CLOs are focusing more on encouraging learning transfer to have greater impacts on changing behavior back on the job. For possible solutions, read Bill Rosenthal’s article, Combating the Forgetting Curve
- Developing L&D staff to meet business needs and challenges. L&D staff need to move from a training focus to a performance focus which requires additional skills to be seen as a business partner and a trusted advisor. For insight into diagnostics, read Doug Harward’s blog, Diagnostics, The Lost Skill of a Training Leader
- Preparing the next generation of leaders. CLOs have to not only focus on the current workforce but the knowledge skills of the future workforce. “According to research by Deloitte, only 36 percent of millennials who are currently in leadership positions felt prepared when they assumed the role. Even after being in the role, 30 percent still did not feel that they were ready.” For more information on this, read Sean Graber’s article on L&D for the Next Generation of Leaders
Other Resources to Help CLOs Sleep at Night
In addition to the links above, I would like to share resources that may remedy the insomnia CLOs experience due to their many challenges.
- The Chief Learning Officer, By Tamar Elkeles and Jack Phillips
- What Makes a Great Training Organization blog, by Doug Harward
- Strategic Learning Alignment, by Rita Mehegan Smith
Hopefully these resources are can be added to CLO’s toolkits and will lead to more restful nights.
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