We are addressing today a major topic of what preparation for the future of workplace learning should look like. Hence, we must ask ourselves what the challenges should be for postgraduate training and simultaneously learning in the different functional positions in companies.
Undoubtedly there are several and they respond to all the innovations that must be introduced both in the theoretical approach and in the practical implementation in the workplace, because both issues (theory and practice) have to come together in order to be applied effectively in times of change. But it is not a question of a simple union, but a consolidation of the way in which a certain theoretical framework, for example, in marketing, ends up being implemented in your job within the functions that have been assigned to you. And also and very importantly, to what extent do you have control of the entire process on this new implementation, or if you are part of a team in which you are responsible for a part of that development, which is most likely.
This type of convergence process between postgraduate studies and practical application has to do with a field of knowledge that we can summarize in L&D (Learning & Development) which means as you know (learning and development). For the simple reason that learning is opening the way to personal and professional development.
We also know that there are various learning models, but perhaps the most significant approach that we must take to the problem that we address today, is that we must take into account that there is a general shift from single-event training to cultures of continuous learning. And this is the key, because another very important element also appears: self-directed learning as a sustainable way of increasing the impact of learning. And all this as part of a perfectly programmed process, when an MBA student is doing internships in an organization that has a stable agreement with the business School, so two basic aspects for learning come together: on the one hand, the L&D capacities inherent to the person to which is added the quality of the program, of the professors, tutors, group work experiences, etc.; the other question is how to turn organizations, especially SMEs, into facilitators and consultants, as well as taking into account the role of coaching in L&D.
Some of the best skills to advance in L&D
– Projects management.
– Change management.
– Management Development.
– Decision making and analysis based on data.
– Strategic and critical thinking.
– Marketing skills.
The role of the business school in the strategic design of learning
The guidance that the Business School provides to its students is essential so that each future postgraduate will focus on what is called “Design and innovation of strategic learning”, that is, all the knowledge to which the training is added and experimentation (in the case of market research work for a company as part of the program), in order to train the postgraduate in real terms of experience, so that in the workplace they can promote change in business performance. This direction towards a verifiable return is the essence of postgraduate training, hence the demand for professionals who have completed an MBA with good results and taking into account their specialty, on the part of employers, who know that in a short time such accumulation of training and knowledge, with the appropriate, coordinated and well-supervised implementation, will give very beneficial results for the entire company.
For example, there are cases in which the programs incorporate learning based on games, as well as training very oriented towards good governance, how to take risks and everything related to “corporate compliance” which is a set of procedures and good practices adopted by organizations to identify and classify the operational and legal risks they face and establish internal mechanisms for prevention, management, control and reaction to them.
Skills every L&D professional needs in the post-pandemic world
We have already commented in previous articles from this AEEN Forum, that the pandemic forced all sectors of the economy and society, to a total change of paradigm in terms of establishing priorities as a consequence of confinements, paralysis of the economy, in addition to the well-known health risks and curbing the expansive wave of Covid-19. However, Business Schools were some of the social and economic agents best prepared to face this tremendous challenge imposed by the pandemic.
Our sector has always instilled in organizations of all kinds, private and public, the importance of not only the educational level and training of employees, officials, managers, entrepreneurs, etc., for the better competitiveness of a country, but also having incorporated the good habit of what continuous learning means. And right now, this concept of “continuously learning and training” is more pertinent than ever, as L&D professionals must arm themselves with new skills that might not have been traditionally associated with their roles. And this is one of the main characteristics of an MBA graduate, who is justly better trained than other professionals to adapt to change and thanks to L&D incorporate valuable skills for a post-Covid-19 stage with more complex markets, decisions to be made much more adjusted in terms of risks and benefits, etc.
In other words, we are at a propitious moment for business leaders who bet on L&D to feel the growing need to improve and retrain all organizations, since this type of leadership has legitimately won a well-deserved seat in the boards of directors and boards of managers, because they have worked on the development of strategies on the one hand and the search for solutions on the other, so that organizations made a serious commitment in terms of enabling and empowering employees.
Throughout this period of the pandemic and even more so from what we call the Post Covid stage, time has been invested by postgraduate students, companies and Business Schools (each contributing their own) to continue improving people’s skills in jobs and thus helping to improve returns, or, for example, to accommodate results by reducing areas of loss by being able to correct procedures that had to have been adjusted a long time ago because there was a greater effort in this regard between schools, companies and postgraduates in coming out of the recessionary process generated by the pandemic, taking into account that many companies closed and tens of thousands of jobs were lost.
For this reason, it is perhaps the moment when it is best to focus on what the postgraduate has to do in his function, how he must exercise his responsibility, the time he must dedicate to investigating certain questions that the company needs, especially in the position of work that this person occupies. In short, lifelong learning will be, as never before, the guarantee of what concerns society as a whole: a sustainable economy that is supported by companies and projects that are also sustainable, which implies special care in the measures that are taken, the risks assumed, corporate compliance, concern for integration, inclusion and diversity, as well as care for the environment. Hence, in the face of such an accumulation of challenges that must be considered, continuous learning is no longer a chimera but a necessity to maintain a minimum level of personal and business productivity and guarantee that companies are sustainable.
We are saying that we find two types of professionals: postgraduates who join the job in a new company or who are moving up because the MBA has boosted their career; L&D professionals who take on the training of other professionals who have just joined the job, or who, although they have already been working in this function, have just successfully completed an MBA and are looking for the best option for the tasks to be carried out in that function, taking advantage of the knowledge acquired by the employee, directing them in this direction.
That is, those responsible for L&D must go beyond their scope of the standard skill set. They need to be nurtured with skills that may not correspond to their function (because they were not traditionally associated with their roles), but that can help them offer training and constant help that employees need in their positions, which implies taking into account the format of your choice (the one you choose for the best performance of the employee) and considering the workload and responsibility.
These skills will enable L&D professionals to build the workplaces of the future where every learning initiative will have a direct impact on the bottom line.
Personalization of the contents
It is imperative that L&D stakeholders know the ways and means to customize content and learning experiences for employees based on employee roles and responsibilities. Therefore, they must reconsider creating personalized learning plans that keep students (employees) at the center of all learning initiatives.
More than a few personalized learning experiences are using technologies like AI that are mapped to the competencies the organization needs, but with the addition that they add value to rapidly changing workforce dynamics. It is then that L&D leaders will constantly need to use rich analytics to continually assess what they know about an employee’s learning needs and then regularly compare it to what is being learned.
Times have changed, never better said, because if we look back a decade there is a big difference when those responsible for learning in organizations did not have to be as well informed as they need to be today, about what technology can do in terms of to improve work and productivity. Now, companies and their middle managers, also employees and especially staff trainers, have been adopting new technologies without problems because everyone inside and outside companies has become accustomed to the application of NTs.
When lifelong learning experts refer to what they are facing in this Post-Covid-19 stage, some ideas arise that shed much light on the state of things:
– That it is certain that no company will ever have a learning (training) director without knowing what technology can do for the company, the employees and the processes themselves, be they ordinary operations or those of learning.
– Know in depth what happens with the skills required by the person that in turn facilitates the development of employee skills, that is, that the L&D professionals who develop training and development programs are the facilitators in the companies for the adequacy of tasks in jobs. Also the implementation of e-learning courses and, sometimes, they train their own employees in a timely manner, although the most important thing is to do it on a scheduled basis, since they have a perfect knowledge of what they must control, know and experience. .
What are the skills that L&D professionals must have?
1º) Excellent research skills
If the question is why they have to have these skills, the answer is that they are fundamentally used to find the most relevant and authentic content for both their online and face-to-face training courses.
2º) Strong communication skills
For an effective L&D professional, strong communication skills are crucial, as they will have to organize seminars, take classes, or give lectures from time to time, but they especially have to be able to explain concepts, understand employee concerns, and then offer solutions, so there is no doubt that these types of professionals are first-rate experts in lifelong learning, so they must ensure that their communication is inspiring and attractive and that they improve these skills continuously.
3º) Exceptional organizational skills
The ability to organize is essential in the function of these professionals, since they will have to manage a budget, allocating time, money and other resources in the best possible way so that their L&D program is successful.
When creating eLearning courses, clearly demonstrate how you are applying such organizational skills, such as selecting and organizing content, placing media and interactivities at the correct position and intervals in the course, and ensuring that the course flows smoothly, linear and methodical.
Often working simultaneously on multiple projects, they are forced to manage their time well to ensure deadlines are met and delays are avoided.
4º) Perpetual enthusiasm for learning
Lifelong learning has L&D professionals as the first bastions of this habit of continuous improvement (being constant apprentices of knowledge applied to job functions). But they are not alone. There are the professors, tutors and coordinators of the Business Schools who are always in contact with the companies with which they have agreements so that postgraduate students can develop their activities, fully integrating themselves into a job in which they are supposed to that they have inherited the ability to be a lifelong learner from Business School and are now following it from those professionals who will guide their steps in their role. L&D professionals are facilitators of learning, but they must also be lifelong learners if they want to be successful in this field. This is a dynamic field where trends change rapidly and day by day technologies bring new methodologies that must be applied, which leads again to the innovative processes that technological disruption imposes. Changing trends on the one hand and best practices in learning on the other.
An interesting aspect to keep in mind is that these professionals put themselves in the place of their students, the new learners, empathizing with them, allowing them to put themselves in the same place as the student for whom they are creating the course and, therefore, create a different and attractive course.
5º) Domain of eLearning technology
It’s absurd to think that an L&D professional isn’t an expert in everything related to e-learning these days. There are several eLearning authoring tools, learning management systems, and video editing software that every L&D professional should know in depth, along with having a fair understanding of social media marketing.
All of these tools need to be used together efficiently to create the perfect eLearning course. For example, when choosing an eLearning authoring tool, they need to make sure that it works well with their chosen learning management system. Similarly, social media is a powerful tool for marketing eLearning courses internally and having chat sessions about the courses that generate helpful feedback.
Antonio Alonso, president of the AEEN (Spanish Business School Association) and general secretary of EUPHE (European Union of Private Higher Education)