3 Important Learning Tactics to Integrate Into Your Talent Development Program

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A headshot of Jenna Bowman.

Jenna Bowman

Jenna Bowman has over 8 years of Talent Development experience, a Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Learning, and a…

The priority for any talent development program should be to individualize development while still meeting the strategic objectives and goals of the overall organization.

There are many factors to consider, but with the right tactics, companies can empower their employees to be self-directed in their growth, provide unique opportunities based on different learning styles, and align their development opportunities to both personal and company-wide goals. In this post, we will discuss three important learning tactics your organization should consider incorporating into your talent development program.

1. Competencies 

Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and abilities that a person must have to be successful in their role. Competencies drive organizational behavior, high performance, and help set clear role expectations. Establishing and communicating the competencies required for each job and level in an organization is essential for the business to meet its strategic and operational goals.

Businesses should consider how the competencies required of each person and job role can either be a.) unique to the position, or b.) the same across the organization. All competencies, however, must have clear alignment to the organization’s mission, vision, goals, and values. This will focus employees on the specific behaviors that are valued and rewarded.

Organizations should measure and assess each individual’s competency at all levels. Managers should work with direct reports to provide actionable steps for any competencies that need improvement. Additionally, managers should focus on finding ways for direct reports to utilize strong competency areas in the workplace.

Tip: Consider gathering input to see which competencies resonate with employees and which behavioral descriptions may need to be modified. Also consider aligning competencies with training to incentivize employee adoption.

2. Blended Learning

Many organizations are launching pragmatic learning strategies to reach the diverse needs of employees with varying levels of experiences and learning styles. Blended learning techniques provide individualized opportunities, forms, and approaches to help employees learn and grow. These different learning methods include in-person training, web-based content (i.e., videos, podcasts, recordings, etc.) and self-directed content or activities. Blended learning is impactful because it provides employees with autonomy, flexibility, and control over how and where they learn.

When launching a blended learning program, it is important for organizations to understand the needs of their employees and align learning programs to those needs and the overall business goals. Companies should consider the different ways in which people learn (i.e., visual and/or experientially, etc.), and incorporate those approaches into the learning methods. Learning is more effective and new behaviors are more likely to cement when different learning styles are considered.

Tip: Interview a variety of employees at various levels to discover where they may have development gaps, what they would like to learn, their time constraints, and what method of learning works best for them. Look for themes at each level and curate content in the form that best suits their needs. Include specific topics that are the most important to them. When employees have a direct say in what they are learning and how, their commitment to learning increases. Continue this process yearly to keep content fresh.

3. Non-linear Learning Paths

While blended learning is focused on the method by which a person learns something, non-linear learning paths show the many directions a person can advance within an organization. The idea is that people do not always learn or grow in a straight line. Therefore, an employee’s path should be adjusted to suit their unique needs and how they hope to progress within their organization.

Non-linear paths conform to the employee by building on the experience they already have, allowing them to complete the path in the order in which they choose, and grow in many directions within the organization – even if that direction is lateral. Non-linear paths are flexible, adaptable, experiential, and more customized to the specific learner and to their short/long term goals. In this way, individuals have more autonomy over their organizational growth and can advance in ways that are suited to their interests and strengths.

Tips for setting up non-linear learning paths: 

  • Work with leaders of the organization to learn how people progress, what competencies need to be displayed to measure that success, and how those competencies are rewarded.
  • Gain an understanding of where the gaps are for employees in meeting their goals and use those gaps as a guide for talent development program creation.
  • Gather and analyze what every employee should be able to demonstrate at a baseline level.
  • Interview employees at all levels in the organization to get a sense of what people would like to learn on their path to succeeding through the organization.
  • Audit resources and materials the organization already has to re-use or build upon existing content.

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