According to PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, CEOs are now turning inward to drive revenue growth. Faced with global trade and economic uncertainties, executives are focused on optimizing in areas within their control, such as improving operational efficiencies and realizing opportunities for organic growth. However, as PwC points out, a look inward means CEOs must confront the cracks in their own armor, especially as they relate to the information and skills gaps. Fifty-five percent of CEO respondents cited an “inability to innovate effectively” as a top concern, followed closely by “higher-than-expected people costs.”
Upskilling and reskilling are the buzzwords of the moment in the world of corporate learning. As reflected by the PwC report, CEOs are increasingly frustrated by their organization’s ability to advance and by the growing skills gap. They expect their organization, enabled by a modern learning strategy, to step up to the plate in order to remain ahead of the skills curve. To do that, they need to foster a culture of adaptability and ongoing learning in which employees are empowered and equipped to take charge of their own learning.
The good news is employees want to be empowered. In a recent study of 700 professionals published in Harvard Business Review, 85% of learners say they understand their learning gaps and know what they can do to bridge them. They are also willing to put in the effort. On average, employees are spending 1.2 hours per week on learning opportunities provided by their employer and triple that amount of time on self-guided learning. Social learning from mentors and peers also played a prominent role for these surveyed professionals, with 44% saying they looked to teams and peers for learning, with this type of social learning prized over learning delivered through formal corporate channels, HR or their learning team.
Here are some of the ways employees can take charge of their own learning:
- Be open to feedback – Employees who successfully manage their own learning are proactive, reaching out to colleagues, mentors and managers for feedback, using techniques such as Social Assessment™. They are also receptive and open to making changes based on that feedback.
- Journal, curate and reflect on learning – It is helpful for employees to use tools such as blogging to journal insights around learning and document learning reflections. Successful employees also actively curate their own learning resources to supplement those provided by their employer.
- Seek out opportunities to practice learning – The ready availability of video today (on every mobile phone) provides employees with the tools to quickly capture and record a learning insight or practice a presentation/pitch/customer encounter and share it with colleagues, coaches and mentors for feedback. Mobile-enabled learning also enables equal-opportunity learning – providing support for those who work remotely.
- Bring your learning with you – Mobile-enabled modern learning systems offer anywhere, anytime access to learning. So, learning can happen on the road, in a hotel room, on the train to work or in the local coffee shop – wherever employees feel most comfortable and can escape from day-to-day office distractions.
Here are some of the ways learning leaders can help empower employees to take charge of their own learning path:
- Make it easy for employees to discover learning opportunities – While we want to encourage employees to take charge of their own learning, often, employees don’t know what learning resources are available to them. This sometimes results in staff going off the beaten path or accessing resources that are not approved for use. Look for a modern learning solution that allows employees to easily discover content from within the approved corporate library, so they always have the relevant learning available right at their fingertips.
- Provide employees with a clear direction for learning and a “roadmap” of how to get to their goals – In order for employees to take charge of their own learning, they need to be able to visualize their learning path and, within that “roadmap,” flexibly adjust their learning path to address their specific weaknesses, strengths and learning goals. Every individual brings a unique skill set to the table, so a one-size-fits-all model won’t address everyone’s strengths and weaknesses across the board. To ensure it resonates, instruction should be personalized whenever possible. That said, you don’t want that learning to be random, but rather sequential. Consider an employee who comes to you with a goal to advance into a new role. Rather than looking at the learning path toward that goal in discrete steps, consider allowing them to visualize that learning pathway as a process by seeing content laid out in a sequential way. Then, as a next step, remove then easily self-enroll to get started on their learning journal, and incorporate badging or gamification elements to reward individuals as they progress.