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Leadership Lens: Discovering What Learning and Development Skills Your Team Wants and Needs

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Being a leader in today’s competitive job market requires finding solutions for employee recruitment and retention. A key to solving this challenge is improving the employee experience - especially with learning and development


Employees - both potential and current - want to know:  

What are the skills that I need for this job or promotion?  

Does your organization have a program to support my skills development? 

If you can’t answer these questions, you are going to face problems with worker hiring and retention. Below we dive into why learning and development is more important than ever and how to determine what your team wants and needs to learn. 

First, What Workers Think About Learning and Development

To understand why providing learning and development is so critical, let’s take a look at the larger picture and the factors driving the need for ongoing skills development.  

Automation is creating considerable uncertainty about workers’ futures. Nearly half of employees in surveys are worried that their skills will soon be outdated due to advancements in automation, AI and robots. Most employers also respond to surveys indicating they see employees’ skill sets becoming obsolete in the near future. 

At a rapid rate, skills are expiring faster than teams can form adequate responses to such changes. Employees often recognize their skills are not valuable and may stay at a job with falling morale, feeling unneeded, or leave for a different opportunity. 

Surveys indicate that a large percentage of workers - about two-thirds - would remain throughout their career with an employer who upskilled or reskilled them. Most workers indicate they need and want to learn new skills within the year to continue their careers. 


Second, Aligning the Skills Employees Want with the Skills They Need 

The skills employees want and those they need for their current or future positions may not always be one and the same.  


Pro Tip: The smart leader will not forge ahead with what they think is best for employees, but take a holistic approach to skills gap training and find the win-wins that benefit both employees and their employers. 

Start by assessing two items:  


  • the current skill set of your team members, and 

  • the skills they want to learn 


A multi-pronged approach is best, relying on methods such as self-assessment surveys, peer evaluations and skill-based tests. 


Once assessment information is gathered, identify the key skills that are most valuable for individuals, teams and the organization as a whole. The skills may be highly technical in nature, such as learning a new programming language or receiving an analytics certification, or it could include soft skills like communication and problem-solving. 


2. Engage in Dialogue and Create a Plan Together 

Initiate open and honest conversations with your team members about which skills they value personally and professionally. Ask them about their career aspirations and areas of desired improvement, in addition to which skills they believe are important for their roles. Such a conversation will offer insights into the development of individuals and teams. 


With the assessments analyzed and employee input considered, it’s time to create a guideline to determine whether an individual’s skills are outdated or if they are excelling. This guideline can also determine which competencies are needed for the next level and can ensure an individual remains a successful member of an organization


Companies that provide learning and development- engaging in the evaluation of employee growth and combining it with succession planning - can provide a ladder of upward mobility for employees. Such a ladder helps to attract and keep talented professionals. 

Pro Tip: The educational tools offered to employees can be position or industry-specific, or they can be more general skills that are valuable in virtually any setting, such as improving time management, setting priorities, and communicating tactfully and clearly. 


The Ladder of Learning and Development

Many companies face barriers in their efforts to skill their employees, whether due to time, money or inertia. Some leadership teams do not appreciate the balancing act required between learning and development, and constraints on time and resources.  

The fact is that employees need to see their futures at an organization. Learning and development is a sure way to show them you value them and want them to stay. 

Priority Management has been training leaders and their teams around the globe for four decades. We fully customize all training programs for your needs and provide crucial follow-up coaching to ensure that you meet your goals. 



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