Is there anyone better placed to talk skills than LinkedIn? We recently welcomed one of their directors, Fred Hagermark, alongside the L&D Manager of Lotus Group and an exclusive panel of UK learning leaders in this closed doors roundtable to unpack the future of skills.
Key topics discussed
- Skills development is no longer just a nice to have but business critical for retention
- Key skills like agility and resilience are not new but are now becoming more of a ‘conscious conversation’ for organizations at C-level
- Development pathways are necessary to ensure future skills requirements are met
- L&D is not an island – and the skills agenda can only be tackled successfully by working closely and collaboratively with partners in HR and talent acquisition
Alex Taylor, L&D Manager at Lotus Group, opened the discussion with an insightful look at the challenging skills agenda facing a car manufacturer. Not only have they dealt with the remote working challenges presented in the last two years, but they are also tackling a revolution in emissions regulations and engineering. Digital learning has proved invaluable to supporting its staff through the transition to remote and hybrid work. And now technology will play a pivotal role in mapping core competencies and skills for the mid to long-term.
Digital content and platforms, including LinkedIn Learning, has given us the tools to be able to react quickly to change. Then building out our skills strategy we have looked more broadly across succession planning, early careers and our performance processes – the whole ecosystem. We work collaboratively and closely with our HR business partners and Talent Acquisition to create a comprehensive story across it all. – Alex Taylor, L&D Manager, Lotus Group
He explains that “if we only had one part of that puzzle we’d be falling short”. But having a collaborative, data driven, insight-led approach to the skills they need e.g. where they might be lacking diversity or where are skills ageing out of the workforce, has been a real lever for L&D at Lotus.
This has been business critical as Alex and his team realized early on in the pandemic that they couldn’t just continue to pay a premium to buy skills in. The team knew they had to develop and upskill internally – and now L&D is leading that drive.
The role of line managers in skills development
There was consensus across all the different industries represented in the session – from logistics, to retail – that line managers are running on empty. Looking after teams in a global pandemic has taken its toll. But it was also agreed that they are key to the successful development of people across organizations worldwide. How do we give them the skills and support they need, to be able to develop the skills and performance we need from their teams?
The answer seemed to lie in a focus on behavioral skills development rather than role-specific skills. Agility, resilience, emotional intelligence, all featured prominently in the discussion. But whilst many have really zeroed in on mental health and wellbeing since the start of 2020, there is a real need to balance the skills agenda with what is also required to optimize productivity and performance too.
Goleman’s 12 competencies of emotional intelligence were mentioned by numerous participants as a reference point to some of the so-called ‘softer’ skills development.
Of course we have to look after our people. But we need to keep an eye on the skills they need to perform and be productive too, if we are going to set them – and the organization – up for success.
Outcomes and impact
Another aspect of learning and skills that all of the leaders were in agreement on was the need for business outcomes and impact. “Learning is no longer an abstract” said one when discussing the need for a performance consulting approach in their organization. It needs to be linked to business metrics around retention and performance. This can be a massive challenge for L&D but one that must be tackled if the function is to keep its new found place at the top table now that skills are on the agenda of every CEO and Board.
“If we don’t do it in L&D, someone else will” commented one attendee.
Technology and transformation
In many organizations the technology to support skills strategies is still evolving. But as one leader explained, “we don’t have time to wait”. Learning platforms and pathways can develop learning in the right place at the right time already. The AI input might not be perfect yet and the ability to map and mobilize skills isn’t live everywhere either, but stepping into the mindset of continuous learning, curation, ongoing careers development and true talent mobility is as transformative as any technology.
There is no straightforward answer when it comes to skills. Organizational context is key. But it is now a truth universally acknowledged that organizations have recognized the importance of having the right people with the right skills, in place at the right time. And this discussion to facilitate, drive, reward and recognize skills development and learning for the greater good of both individuals and their organizations, is going to run and run.
Why join an UNLEASH Roundtable?
Amid the current disruption, HR leaders need to get ahead of the exponential trend where work, technology and how work gets done have changed forever. But how should we approach the relevant questions, given the radical uncertainty we continue to face as the pandemic becomes more protracted than anyone imagined? Our exclusive Virtual Roundtables are designed to explore where business leaders are focused now, key challenges and prioritization for the rest of the year, and what matters most in planning for what’s next.
How to take part:
Apply to get a seat at future UNLEASH Roundtables via our Events Calendar today. Please note that all attendees are screened. Your company name will be shared with other participants to help us create the most useful discussion possible.
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