To say that the modern workforce and workplace are changing would surprise absolutely no one, yet it's shocking just how many organizations aren't proactively taking steps to futureproof in the age of digital disruption.
A 2014 study from Constellation Research concluded that industry-leading companies' ability to adapt to digital disruption was a key factor in their long-term success, by analyzing the average tenure of companies that make the Fortune 500 list. Since 2000, they found that digital disruption caused 52 percent of these companies to declare bankruptcy, go through an acquisition, or simply cease to exist - no industry is immune to digital
For your organization to be able to confidently state that it's ready to face the challenges and new realities of digital disruption, you need to make talent development a priority. You need to be identifying, supporting and developing the skills and relevant competencies of your leaders and employees need to be successful, and that move the needle on business performance. That means creating a continuous, hyper-connected development experience for your people that aligns to the ever-shifting goals of the business.
How to create a digitally focused talent development environment
So what does that look like when you put it into practice? Effective talent development involves strong vision and leadership coupled with the right development tools and execution strategy.
It's time to create a hyper-connected talent development environment where your people can truly learn about and apply their new and improved skills in the flow of work, where each learning opportunity doesn't have to be a massive undertaking like a multi-hour course and can instead involve bite-sized microlearning - like videos - offered in the moment of need. It's within these learning-optimized environments where employees are rewarded for sharing their expertise and knowledge with others, and are able to proactively seek the training they need to move the needle on performance and move closer to achieving their goals.
As you give your people an environment optimized for learning, you need to concurrently promote and reward development. Rewarding company subject matter experts and leaders for teaching others, while providing the new learning platforms, lets people learn and apply those new insights, skills, or competencies in the flow of work.
To learn and lead: The evolution of digitally maturing companies' learning environment
This era of digital disruption is causing a fundamental shift in the business environment, according to a recent MIT and Deloitte study on digital transformation. The 4,300 executives that participated in the study identified what they felt is the main difference between working in a digital environment versus a traditional one. Amongst the top responses:
- 23 percent said pace of business
- 19 percent said culture and mindset
- 18 percent said flexible, distributed workplace
These responses show that digital disruption affects not just the "what" of the business, but also the "how." It's the way organizations need to evolve and shift their mindset when it comes to collaboration, so that they prime their operations and culture to help their people bring their best every day. That way, they can deliver outcomes that move the business towards its goals.
According to findings in the MIT-Deloitte study, the most successful, fast-growing, digitally enabled companies are differentiated by one thing: They've transformed how their people learn and lead. Companies are increasingly pushing decision-making further down into the organization as they digitally mature, requiring their people to upskill continuously while adopting a new approach to learning.
Building a personalized learning experience into the flow of work
It's critical to personalize the learning experience to the needs of the employee, meaning that the organization's learning management system (LMS) and the content within it connect to the employee's role, responsibilities, and performance and development goals. Prescriptive and self-directed learning allows your people and teams to drive their own development experience by learning on their own, from their teams and colleagues, and from the organization as a whole - all while staying connected to (and delivering on) business goals.
Regardless whether your organization is digitally mature or you're feeling the strain of your traditional business environment, there are three key ways to start (or improve on) integrating learning in the flow of work:
- Cultivate an experimental, supportive and transparent environment - employees have the psychological safety to fail and where the organization, as a whole, learns and improves based on what did or didn't work
- Provide "just-in-time learning" - to better support the modern, mobile, busy employee, accessing bite-sized chunks of learning content anytime, anywhere, allows for better information retention
- Coaching for growth - leaders need to provide employees with the vision, support and conditions that empower them to experiment and grow, and follow up with regular check-ins, coaching and feedback
Offering your people the right learning content at the right time can help support these three keys to success in the age of digital disruption. This digitally mature approach to learning is causing a major shift in how individuals approach upskilling, with 73 percent saying they update their skills at least every six months and 44 percent saying they update their skills continuously, according to the recent study by MIT and Deloitte.
"The real key will be intelligently recommending the right content to each user in a personalized way," writes HR and talent industry analyst Josh Bersin in his article, Learning in the Flow of Work: Arriving Now. Skills have become the new currency in a knowledge-worker era.
The digital transformation of talent development
By developing and supporting internal digital leaders who thrive within a culture of learning, digitally maturing organizations have not only faced the facts of our technological reality, but are leaning into the change. Digital disruption is already here. And these smart organizations are transforming their cultures, business operations and talent development programs to get ahead and stay futureproof in the age of digital disruption.