Leadership & Development

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), a non-profit organization, has nine exemplary practices for building emerging leaders.

1. Drive learning with leadership vision and commitment. The CEO and senior managers must elevate learning and development. Tim Reedy, CEO of Conference Plus, discusses development with employees through group “Lunch and Learns” and quarterly “All Hands Calls,” enabling every employee to be informed and heard by the CEO.

2. Align employee learning with business goals. Top leaders should adopt clear goals, communicate them widely, and ensure that L&D activities are aligned with the goals. IBM’s goal, for example, is to help set the innovation agenda for its clients. IBM wants its people to be innovators in their roles so that they can be resources for their clients. The innovation theme is incorporated into each employee’s annual commitments, enabling them to identify their goals and development needs.

3. Strategically position L&D functions within senior management. A HR leader or CLO must be part of the top management team. Consider creating new roles and functions to lead talent development. US Cellular created a VP of Organizational Learning and Chief Teaching Officer to lead the design and execution of its L&D strategies.

4. Emphasize LD at all levels. Since leadership skills are essential for all employees, you need to develop talent from within. Focusing only on Hi-Pos poised for top positions won’t prevent the talent crunch. GE Commercial Finance fosters a growth culture for future leaders with a leadership program that combines job rotations by assignment, leadership interaction, and unique training opportunities. All employees gain a broad view of the company while quickly developing core professional skills and experience.

5. Expand knowledge beyond job-related or technical skills. Investments should be made to develop well-rounded, versatile employees through tuition assistance programs, customized on-site training, and personal development options. To meet skill shortages, Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) is developing its people for future health care leadership positions. NMH participates in the School at Work program. Once a week at work, participants are exposed to several health care occupations, given career planning tips, and meet with college counselors.

Tuition assistance programs must be managed effectively and evaluated against best practices to meet talent development goals and spur growth.

6. Structure informal learning opportunities. Employers should integrate work and learning through team projects, cross-training, rotational assignments, and problem-solving exercises. People often learn better from experience, hands-on training, and self-directed learning. Diamond Consulting developed online forums for self-directed learning and peer learning communities and a variety of educational programs including Corporate Citizenship, which provides leadership training through volunteer opportunities. Diamond also developed a Knowledge Center available to employees 24/7.

7. Use innovative technology to meet learning objectives and to manage your education and training offerings. Deloitte effectively uses e-learning by offering 6,000+ online courses on their Learning Center Web site. Courses use a blended approach that combines an e-learning course with an instructor-led course. This application-based learning integrates business concepts into training so employees can immediately apply what they learn.

8. Form alliances with educational institutions. Develop customized degree, certificate and non-credit programs collaboratively with education and training providers to ensure that the curriculum meets talent and skills needs. Advocate, a Chicago healthcare provider, has created partnerships with local community colleges to develop programs (including degree- and certificate-bearing programs). They also participate in the DuPage Health Care Leadership Group, which unites local health care providers with colleges and universities to discuss learning needs.

9. Assess the impact of T&D investments. This can include analyzing how training and tuition assistance participants perform against other employees, and looking at the effects on performance, recruitment, retention, bill rates, and other factors. To analyze the ROI of its training, Accenture partnered with the University of Chicago. The study showed that Accenture receives a 353 percent return on learning


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