The current business environment is exceptionally dynamic. Hence, organisations must pay keen attention to workplace learning, which is a critical lever for success. And in this evolving setup, the role of the Chief Learning Officer, aka CLO, has undergone a massive transition. CLOs are no longer only the custodian of the company’sLearning Management System. They cannot just engage in designing skills-based and compliance-oriented courses or creating leadership-development programs. Instead, they must embrace a comprehensive role of defining capabilities and shaping the company-wide culture.
What Are the New Roles of the Chief Learning Officer?
HBR describes the evolved CLO as the Transformer Chief Learning Officer. As per their words: “Transformer CLOs are strong senior managers whose mission is to help their companies and their employees thrive, even as technologies, business practices, and whole industries undergo rapid change. The transformer CLO role is not reserved for the lucky few whose CEOs see learning and development as essential; any CLO can take steps to fundamentally change the nature of learning in an organization.”
Now, when we say ‘change’, we need to look at the key trends that define the role of a Chief Learning Officer.
The Future of Business is Tough
When we refer toe learning management system, it must meet the end objectives of your organisation. Otherwise, how will you stand out from your competitors or realise your final goals? Corporates, no longer, can consider learning as something that focuses on developing specific skill-sets. It must be designed to positively your current business and serve your long-term future. Therefore, one of the talents of a Chief Learning Officer is their knack to note the future trends. They must plan how the organisation can build its capacity and capability to adapt instantly to sudden disruptions. In short, the CLO must tackle any risk that the company might face in the future.
Everything is Changing
Before, companies could take their own sweet time to plan and create learning programs. However, this method is almost obsolete in the current scenario. Why? Skills are constantly changing. With evolving trends in technology and innovations, what you learn today can turn outdated tomorrow. Yes, online training programs have to be agile to include these frequent changes. The process is challenging — not only for the creator of learning modules but also for the learners. Designers have to update and add information that is easy to absorb. Since learning is a continuous process, it needs to become a part of the workplace culture. What does this mean? The CLOs need to be involved with the entire learning journey.
The Modern Workforce is Diverse
The modern workplace is a mix of employees — Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Generation X. Now, it is the responsibility of the Chief Learning Officer to cater to the different learning needs of a multi-generational workforce. We do know that each generation has its learning preferences and expectations. While Millennials prefer a mobile-friendly training environment, Baby Boomers demand physical interactions. Hence, when a CLO sits down to plan the organisational learning strategy, s/he has to consider these varying needs. After all, all the training program should engage all segments of employees. You cannot leave out anyone.
CLOs can even attempt to get the right mix of face-to-face and digital learning. As per HBR, “Cargill, which until recently allocated 80% of its budget to in-person training and only 20% to digital training, is in the process of flipping that ratio around. Julie Dervin, the company’s global head of corporate learning and development, and her team have redesigned the company’s leadership development programs to put some of the coursework online. Senior leaders initially had reservations about the effectiveness of digital instruction and worried about losing opportunities to network and build relationships. But those misgivings were short-lived. The first three cohorts who tried the online learning ended up enjoying the experience so much that they engaged in more training than was required.”
Again, apart from designing the content, CLOs also require to look into the mode of delivering knowledge — such as social modes and mobile phones. Content structure is essential as well. Microlearning is emerging as a new trend, which is a favourite among Millennials. On the other hand, with Baby Boomers rapidly exiting the workplace, CLOs must take measures to retain their knowledge and experience. They can additionally include such senior professionals as mentors for fresh recruits.
Learning Needs to be Measured
The traditional method of measuring learning success was calculating the number of employees who had completed a particular course. But this approach is not viable in the current scenario. After all, it does not gauge how much value a program adds to an organisation. With companies embracing a lean and agile model, each department must achieve the end goals. To ensure this, Chief Learning Officers should ensure that there is a robust tracking methodology in place.
A comprehensive LMS like PlayAblo offers analysis, demonstrating how a training module enhances the learner’s effectiveness. It also tracks how employees improve their productivity and revenue earning capability.
What About Employee Retention?
Currently, learning CANNOT embrace a one size fits all approach. To retain and engage employees,corporate training platform MUST consider the individual needs of those employees. Learning programs should be flexible enough to allow learners to progress on their journey. If possible, organisations should give them the option to pitch in regarding what capabilities they wish to nurture. CLOs, in such cases, can consider stretching the knowledge dissemination session outside the classrooms — beyond role-specific programs and technical skills development. They can embed soft skills such as building, stakeholder management, and networking. For the purposes mentioned above, the Chief Learning Officer can opt for a customisable platform like PlayAblo, which can be personalised to adapt to different needs.
Yes, the role of the Chief Learning Officer is now beyond just being the custodian of an LMS. S/he needs to embrace more challenging and complex responsibilities. But at the same time, it gives scope to groom one’s leadership skills in an evolving marketplace.