You are entirely on point in realizing that the choices you face with respect to learning and development are more important than they ever have been. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but the health care industry isn’t all that’s changing. So, too, is the deal in the workspace, the expectations of employees and clients, and a delivery window that is shrinking by the day. So, your L&D approach must take into account highly targeted, strategically anchored content offerings, intelligent and efficient delivery modes, and a host of changing expectations. Here are a few thoughts:
Voice of the Customer
The first stop on your journey should be to make sure that the client’s voice is well-represented. Don’t assume that you know what clients are facing and what they need from your organization. Take the time to engage them and ask about both their immediate and anticipated needs. Listen hard, and then make sure that their needs are well-represented in your L&D plans and priorities.
You would do well to look at your workforce as clients, too, albeit the non-paying type. They can tell you a lot about what’s working and what’s not with respect to their preparation, and identify some needs that paying clients haven’t even thought about yet. Avoid at all cost the trap of letting trainers clutter the agenda with their favorite chunks of content. Then, be exceptionally well-prepared to fight for the right L&D priorities and the resource Commitment (capital ‘C’ intentional) to breathe life into them.
One Size Fits One, But …
On one hand you’ve got to achieve critical mass by making sure that certain competencies are well-shared in the organization. But on the other hand, you need to do a fair amount of micro-targeting. People will no longer endure, let alone embrace or pay for, learning content that is poorly designed, delivered in the wrong mode or at the wrong time, or attempts to treat everyone the same.
Find a way to get senior executives, the organization’s rock stars and other centers of influence seriously involved. See to it that everyone has a personal development plan and is expected to accomplish it. For that matter, all staff members should negotiate both the terms and funding for their development plan. In other words, let them own it. Be willing to take a fresh look at various delivery modes, including gamification, coaching, shared services and the use of MOOCs. Don’t be afraid to incorporate a heaping dose of fun.
Career Development Isn’t What It Used to Be
During the last 60 years, average job tenure in the U.S. has shrunk from nearly 20 years to about four years. Indeed, in a gig economy the word “career” has taken on completely new meaning, since a person’s body of work can be literally all over the map, housed in an assortment of short, disparate stays. For L&D purposes, that means you’ve got a much shorter and steeper runway to help people gain the needed proficiency.
Nowhere is that more evident than with your leadership cadre. Not unlike football quarterbacks who go straight from the college ranks to starting NFL jobs — something that used to take five years — emerging leaders are commonly thrust into managerial roles with little to no preparation whatsoever. On Friday, you’re an individual contributor, and on Monday, having had all weekend to get ready, your life changes.
Unlike the college player, most of them have not even had the benefit of coaching, because their bosses are completely overwhelmed by their own jobs. Make a determined effort to provide your emerging leaders with some coaching. If you can do nothing else, make sure that real leadership qualifications are baked into the selection criteria for management positions at all levels. Good luck.
Bill Catlette, Contented Cow Partners, Jacksonville, Florida, April 7, 2014ASK A QUESTION
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