CLOs in all industries know intuitively that learning and development is a key piece of the talent management process. It’s not quite as simple to convince other senior members of an organization’s leadership team. Take HR, for instance. Ideally, the HR department should work closely with the learning organization to develop key talent because human capital is really the only capital, said Jodi Starkman, director of global talent management consulting at ORC Worldwide, a global HR management and consulting firm.
Without that integration or link between talent management — a key HR function — and the right learning and development activities, which are the CLO’s providence, employees might not contribute at their highest performance levels. Talent, said Starkman, helps provide a framework for HR-related topics, according to the results of ORC Worldwide’s2007 HR Priorities Survey of Senior Human Resources Executives.
“The top strategic HR issues have all been described in terms of talent,” Starkman said. “Talent leadership development, strengthening leadership — it’s all around talent. We segmented the population of survey participants by company size, and whether it was small to medium, large or extraordinarily large global companies, the issue of talent was consistent across all of them. It’s hard to think about the HR value chain without thinking about learning as an important part of every single piece.”
Starkman said that overall there has been a thoughtful and integrated approach to learning and development as part of that chain, but the survey suggests integration has not yet taken place in all organizations.
“There’s still a bit of ‘stovepiping’ around the learning and development organization and training focus that’s separated from a more integrated approach to talent management,” Starkman explained. “There’s a whole piece around onboarding and bringing people into the organization and getting them up to speed not only about the nature of their job but about the culture of the organization, how things get done and how to find and share information. There’s a very important learning component to that process, and it starts before someone actually walks in the door and should continue for months after they’re onboard because, in the beginning, they don’t even know what they don’t know.”
Starkman said organizations increasingly are spread out, and collaboration has become an important part of how people get work done, so the knowledge management and knowledge sharing arena also is an important part of talent management.
Changing demographics and labor shortages in certain industries are just a few considerations that have made the learning and development perspective so valuable in regard to talent, knowledge retention and knowledge capturing within an organization.
“Making learning and development available and demonstrating a commitment, interest and investment in career development for people is really important in the retention effort,” Starkman said. “On the flip side is the old saying, ‘People come to a company but leave their manager.’ Development and learning — in terms of focusing on managers and making them more effective in retaining and developing talent — is another really important piece.
“Then there’s the whole talent management, leadership development arena. Leaders in global organizations today need to move quickly. In the past, the hierarchical organization had a lot more structure and was more formal, as far as managing and staying on top of things. In today’s organizations, people are much more empowered, but at the same time, in the absence of that formal structure and how leadership and culture direct people’s behavior, leadership development has become a really hot area in terms of the role of learning and development.”
Starkman said learning and development also is key when considering workforce planning, specifically in regard to an organization’s in-house skills and how it can close knowledge gaps.
“Learning and development is a tool and a practice for thinking about that,” Starkman explained. “One of the initiatives that’s really important and ties back to the workforce planning and figuring out the whole development and deployment piece is really coming up with a global taxonomy to allow you to talk about skills and really come up with a global workforce inventory that you can think about managing from a maintenance and ongoing development perspective.”