What’s trending? – The changing face of learning and development

It is now critical to link any training to an organisation’s long-term strategic and performance goals and to engage employees with learning options to maximise and embed new skills that are measurable and deliver a positive impact. 

By Tait Grindley.

In today’s dynamic and ever-changing world, organisations and managers that fail to adjust their learning management practices often struggle to achieve organisational growth or productivity.

As a result, New Zealand’s leading companies are abandoning traditional methods of learning in favour of more effective solutions. These often involve technology innovation, customised bite-sized learning interventions, or accelerated management and leadership programmes that engage talent and demonstrate immediate performance improvement.

Trends within learning and organisational development change consistently and observing some of New Zealand’s SME, corporate and government organisations as they transition into the modern world within this field, provides an insight into what’s current and what’s coming.

Employers are implementing strategies to understand not only what’s important to meet the learning needs of their employees but also what the impact of the learning makes to the individual’s career path, the flow-on effect to the teams they lead as well as the results and performance of the organisation’s success and culture.

No longer will generic and basic training solutions meet the needs of businesses and their future and current stars, nor does the return on investment that organisations are willing to invest in this style of programmes or providers.

The direction we see, as a leading provider of learning and organisational development solutions, is that it is now critical to link any training interventions to the organisation’s long-term strategic and performance goals and to engage individuals and teams with learning options to maximise and embed new skills that are measurable and deliver a positive impact.

Markets across New Zealand are changing, are more competitive and our workforce is continuing to be much more diverse and dynamic. So the need for stable, and effective, management and leadership is essential for company sustainability and growth.

Massey University Business School Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Ted Zorn, commented recently, after researching and examining what the big issues are that face businesses locally and internationally, that “when we talk about the biggest issues in business, leadership is often front and centre. It’s interesting that leadership is the most studied, yet still the least understood phenomenon in the social sciences. What leadership means differs for different people, across cultures and even across history”.

When an annual survey and report was conducted by Forbes Magazine in 2015, top CEOs were asked about the big issues in business, and leadership and management were almost always the biggest talent issue reported.

In fact, only 14 percent of businesses in this survey commented that their leadership pipeline was in good shape.

So how does this translate into a New Zealand context? Do the challenges faced globally reflect the current and future challenges in New Zealand? The short answer – yes.

In 2016, New Zealand organisations are looking for a range of learning and development solutions that provide a clear and achievable pathway of career growth and skills development. Training that is aligned and mapped to competency or talent frameworks, the opportunity to gain recognised and reputable professional qualifications, or programmes that ensure that skills not only cover best practice and theoretical techniques, but also have the ability to be practically implemented in the real world, on the job for immediate results and improvement.

We are also seeing the thirst for extended pathways of learning that lead to executive education opportunities or gateways to MBA style programmes for senior executives or established business owners, managers or CEOs.

Executive coaching and mentoring is enjoying a resurgence internally in some of New Zealand’s largest organisations; as sharing valuable intellectual property, knowledge and expertise can be far more powerful and cost-effective than contracting an external hired gun (possibly to tell you things you already know or about resources you have at your fingertips but are not using).

This also includes the concept of reverse mentoring which is gaining traction, where organisations are utilising the skills of technology-savvy millennials who are assisting in the internal knowledge transfer to involve employees at all levels. Genius.

The game is changing, and therefore the need for quality, authentic and fit-for-purpose learning solutions to develop quality managers and leaders is being demanded by organisations across the board. This must now also be the standard approach for generalist and boutique training providers which may have enjoyed success in days gone by, but are realising that their strategies had better be aligned to that of industry or they will simply be left behind.

IMNZ, an organisation with a rich heritage of member engagement, learning and development products and services that specialise in the practical delivery of courses and nationally recognised management qualifications, has also seen the immediate need to reinvent and reposition its national delivery objectives.

As well as its established management development framework, the construction of the new leading edge ACCELERATE leadership programme is proof of this evolution, and it is targeted to generate tangible outcomes across a wide range of management levels.

The concept of accelerated learning is primarily designed for high potential talent seeking to increase their leadership capacity or for those existing managers wanting to fast-track their management capability and on-the-job performance.

Throughout a thought-provoking eight month journey, which includes a range of relevant leading-edge topics and one-on-one coaching to embed learning, it’s an intensive education experience that will help develop a general management perspective to meet the goals of organisations, widen business knowledge and deepen leadership understanding while creating the platform for optimum performance.

Either way, to meet the needs of the new professional, or to create the next wave of leaders and leadership across New Zealand, training professionals must provide high level consultative engagement and strategies to senior HR and OD managers across New Zealand.

Expectations have lifted and now solutions have expanded to deliver on a foundation of a detailed needs-analysis, customised solutions to enable organisations to meet strategic goals and learning outcomes. This provides a mixture of measurable and memorable team and individual learning methodologies delivered at all levels of the business – simultaneously.

As the research shows, and evidence of sweeping changes across businesses demonstrates, 2016 will be an exciting year for the continuing evolution and innovation of learning and professional development in New Zealand. It’s exciting and challenging, but we can’t wait to be a part of it.

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