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4 Hot Topics in Training and Development

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Posted by Rick Lepsinger January 30, 2018

AdobeStock_101018993Businesses that invest in the training and development (T&D) for their leaders are investing in the future of their company. Not only can training employees enhance their performance in their current job, it also can help drive employee retention and engagement.

T&D is a key part of any succession management plan because it helps ensure that high-potential employees have the right skills, improving rates of future success.

Since training and development is so important to the future success of a company, it shouldn’t be surprising that many organizations want to  maximize the ROI of their T&D programs.

But, what do the most successful T&D programs focus on?

Some highlights include:

1: Emphasis on Developing Future Leaders

Many companies are concerned with their succession management strategy—which is why leadership development is one of the biggest topics in training and development today.

Organizations of all sizes in all industries need to have a solid pipeline of leadership candidates in place to fill the shoes of leaders who may be preparing to leave. This leadership pipeline provides a safety net for organizations that helps ensure the continued smooth operation of critical business functions.

Keeping this pipeline full of high-potential candidates, however, is often challenging for organizations without a leadership development process in place. To make the most of their leadership development process, businesses need:

  • Competency Models and Assessments. The organization needs to define what success looks like for a given role, and create a set of tools to measure a leadership candidate’s potential against those criteria—including personality tests, feedback from the candidate’s direct reports and managers, and even simulations of real challenges faced by leaders in the desired role.
  • A Customized Program Based on Desired Outcomes. Every business’ needs are different, and each leadership role may have unique demands as well. So, a “one size fits all” leadership development solution may not produce ideal results. Customizing training based on desired outcomes—i.e. that the candidate possesses specific leadership competencies and technical skills—is key for maximizing training ROI and preparing leaders for success in their new roles.

2: Flexibility and Adaptability

Being able to successfully adapt to new situations is a must-have skill for many leaders in today’s ever-changing business environment. In fact, one OnPoint survey of hundreds of managers revealed that the ability to “continue to learn and gain competence is a characteristic that often sets exceptional leaders apart from their counterparts that hit a ‘performance plateau’ earlier in their careers.”

Leaders who can keep growing and adapting to new circumstances are more likely to excel in their role over the years than their less adaptable counterparts. So, many organizations are beginning to focus on adaptability and continuous learning as core competencies to be developed in their T&D programs.

3: Mobile-Friendly Training

Self-directed learning, or SDL, is a major focus of the employee training and development industry. It empowers employees to complete training on their own time while focusing on the subjects of greatest interest to them—which helps improve engagement with the training.

However, one of the major challenges in SDL is delivering the learning content to employees. Any barriers between the learner and the learning content can cause sharp drops in SDL program participation which causes training to be left uncompleted.

So, to get the most out of their development programs, many organizations using self-directed learning are creating (or acquiring) training content that their employees can access from their mobile devices (tablets, cell phones, etc.) at their leisure.

These mobile-friendly content libraries make it easier for employees to access learning resources when it’s convenient for them. This removes one of the largest barriers to the success of an SDL program, making the program more effective at developing employees.

4: Soft Skills

Soft skills are highly sought after in leadership candidates, and many companies are beginning to recognize the importance of developing these non-technical skills. A leader’s ability to utilize soft skills has an enormous impact on their success at countless other tasks, such as communicating with and influencing others.

Some critical soft skills include:

  • Emotional Intelligence. Often described as a combination of a person’s ability to recognize their own emotional state and the emotional states of those around them, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) uses that knowledge to build relationships with others.
  • Active Listening. This key communication skill calls for the employee to be able to empathize, paraphrase, and question others as needed to make sure that they fully comprehend the contents of a discussion.
  • Building Trust. A core competency for leaders, building trust is foundational to a range to other critical competencies such as influencing, managing conflict, coaching, and team building.

Creating a Strategy for Developing Your Employees

While these are some of the hot topics in training and development, they shouldn’t be pursued unless it’s part of a well-reasoned strategy based on research of your company’s unique situation and needs. Simply providing a set of resources or focusing on a set of skills because they’re popular isn’t a sound strategy for success.

So, before starting a training and development program, it’s important to create a set of goals and to analyze where you are in relation to these goals—whether you need to create a stable leadership pipeline, ensure key employees have a specific set of soft skills, or improve the performance of a remote or cross-functional team.

If you need help creating a strategy for your training and development program, OnPoint is here to help. Our dedicated project team can help you establish a strategy for meeting your business goals with training and development by using a combination of industry research, assessments of your leaders and teams, and years of practical knowledge.

Talking Points - Sell Your Boss on Leadership Development

Topics: training and development, Developing Agile Leaders

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