Jul 3

Ara Ohanian
Infor VP & GM Learning Technologies

Organizations are changing. The workforce is changing. The way we learn and handle talent management is changing.

It’s time to take notice- because the old ways are set to become history.

At some point this year, Millennials [people who came of age around the year 2000), will become the greatest single cohort of workers in employment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics by 2020 Millennials will make up the majority of the workforce.

While you can’t generalize about half an entire workforce, there is no doubt that Millennials bring with them different ways of working that transform everything. All this from a generation which, a decade ago, was barely on our radar and made up less than 20% of the workforce.

Characteristics of these new employees, which will determine how organizations are structured as well as how talent is trained and managed, are these:

  • Always on: the modern workplace is always on. And so is the digitally savvy workforce. Like it or not, mobile devices mean we are capable of answering email at any time. Our highly competitive and increasingly global work environment means regular hours are long gone. Your competitors aren’t sleeping, so you can’t afford to either.
  • Borderless: organizations are borderless, and not just in the sense of geography. Increasingly the effective enterprise includes people who are not employed by the organization. They may be in the supply chain. They may be distributors. They may be consultants. The contemporary L&D team has to support all these workers whatever their relationship with the organization. According to the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2013 Report, by the year 2020 half the people you rely on won’t actually work for you.
  • Self-directed: increased consumerization of technology and availability of information has led to a shift in the mentality of the workforce. Increasingly, people are self-directed, expecting to find out things for themselves, to do it fast, and to share their findings with others. They are not going to wait for a course to learn, they want it now.
  • Unstructured: The modern workplace is less hierarchical, more concerned with individual value and contribution than with organograms. Spurred on by today’s social tools we are closer than ever to Jon Husband’s wirearchy.

In this vibrant new world, traditional training and talent management will not meet development needs. Yet, in our volatile, fast-changing environment,skills have never been more important. The only way to develop people in line with organization needs and at a pace that meets expectations is to re-think how we deliver information, training and talent management.

My take is that the formula for future success involves taking learning out of the mode of “delivery” and into the business. It means taking learning to where the employees are. It also means working with other parts of the organization, in particular, allowing learning to be part of what my colleague Tarik Taman calls “talent management optimization”.

I believe that the recipe for tomorrow’s learning has at least four ingredients:

  • substance that’s right – training and knowledge exchange will be increasingly through short pieces of content that target a particular need. As well as this, we will need to deliver longer interventions, quizzes, and materials not often associated with L&D, such as stretch assignments.
  • sharing – people in an organization collectively know more than any one individual. Those outside the organization collectively know more than the organization does. The natural way to learn more is to share. Modern technologies make this possible, allowing us to learn faster, more naturally than ever before.
  • systems – neither great content nor great sharing are useful if they are not supported by smart systems. These are not the monolithic, enterprise systems of the past but solutions which allow for great work to be supported by good learning and – importantly- for patterns of usage to be established and tracked.
  • smart data – we hear much about big data but it’s smart data that organizations really need, the tell-tale pieces of information that enable you to learn undiscovered things about your organization, and take action. Already companies are using smart data to establish patterns of need, knowledge, recruitment, all facets of performance support. It’s this underlying smart data which lets people work to their best ability in the right role, supported by learning and development together with new job opportunities that the organization can offer.

This is a synopsis of a presentation recently delivered by Ara at SHRM 2013.

Thank you,
Ara Ohanian
Infor VP & GM Learning Technologies

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