“Organizations of the future need to become organizations of learning and the workforce working for them need to become future ready by becoming flexible, adaptive and agile.”
-Surya Prakash Mohapatra
In recent times, changes of an unruly nature have become frequent. Large organizations are struggling to survive. The newer and smaller entrants in the market are making lives of the larger organizations miserable. Agile and lean organizations that have been able to flourish have done so by adopting and adapting to new technology and business models at a fast pace. This is done in order to create more value for their customers. The ones, which have shown laxity in adopting, have perished.
Organizations are made up of their workforce and can become agile only if their workforce is agile too. Employees in organizations need to brace up to face the challenge posed by the disruption. They need to become adept at adaption as well as adoption. Today, the mantra is: Adapt to new situations and adopt a new way of working. So it is clear that organizations of the future need to become organizations of learning and the workforce working for them need to become future ready by becoming flexible, adaptive and agile.
What can L&D do to facilitate this transition? Here are the 5 ways L&D can get the workforce in their organizations future ready:
1. Be Content Aggregators and Curators
Now, content is available in plenty. The challenge today is not the paucity of content but rather abundance of it. With a plethora of content, for the learner, it is nigh impossible to determine what is relevant and what is not. L&D practitioners need to curate and aggregate content and direct the learners to what is relevant to them. With old knowledge becoming obsolete and new knowledge evolving at an incredibly fast pace, there is a need for content creation on the regular and on-going basis. However, the L&D practitioner should leave the content creation activity to domain experts and focus only on Curation and aggregation.
2. Focus on Fundamental Skills
Technology is changing everything in the current age. New technology is replacing old ones. This is leading people to up skill, cross-skill and reskill themselves all the time. Today, most professionals need to upgrade their skills every 12-18 months. Can L&D match this speed? L&D, instead of worrying too much about the ever-changing technologies and the need to develop the corresponding skill-set in people, should switch over their focus to the skill set that would always remain relevant.
Skills like problem-solving, innovation and creativity, leadership, etc. would always be in high demand. L&D is not sure about which technology or business model would emerge in near future. However, they can be reasonably sure that people would always need to develop the capability to solve business problems, innovate and create new products and solutions, negotiate and influence and work effectively with other people.
“L&D practitioners must build an eco-system where people interact and engage with each other seamlessly and thus new knowledge is created almost always.”
3. Build an Ecosystem where people can learn from each other
Building communities mean creating new possibilities. The future of learning lies in the social and collaborative form of learning. Social learning is nothing but a blend of informal and peer-to-peer learning. L&D practitioners need to facilitate such learning in organizations. Employees need to know whom they can reach out to, in order to seek new knowledge or exchange ideas.
L&D needs to facilitate these interactions among employees. They need to connect the experts with beginners as well as other experts so that people can collaborate and co-create new knowledge. In summary, L&D practitioners must build an eco-system where people interact and engage with each other seamlessly and thus new knowledge is created almost always.
4. Teach Learning Habits
In the near future, trainers will slowly recede towards backstage and the learners will take the centre stage. The learners will be at the heart of every learning activity. However, this transition isn’t going to happen overnight. While trainers will slowly disengage from active knowledge transfer and training delivery, learners will not seamlessly evolve into self-learners. There will be learning opportunities, galore and content available in abundance.
However, learners would still struggle because they may not yet be ready for a 100% self-paced learning or collaborative learning without the active involvement of the trainers. They may not have cultivated the learning habits or developed propensity to learn. To make this transition smooth and less painful, instead of teaching subjects, the learning professionals should teach the workforce how to develop effective learning habits.
5. Be a Coach and Mentor
Learning professionals should switch their role from ‘trainers’ to ‘facilitators’, ‘mentors’ and ‘coaches’. By the year 2020, the majority of the workforce would be millennials. We are aware that millennials are smart, ambitious, highly competitive and tech-savvy. They would not need spoon-feeding or continuous handholding. What they would need from the organization is a guide or mentor who can provoke them into thinking, challenge them to move out of their comfort zones, share feedback with them on regular basis on how they are progressing and so on. In other words, a mentor or coach can bring out the best in them.
“To make the transition from trainer centric learning to building self-learners, L&D professionals will have to focus on teaching the workforce how to develop effective learning habits, instead of teaching subjects.”