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New Year, Not So New Challenges

By Mark Phelps

Mark Phelps#1 Challenge: Gaining Stronger Manager Support

Most organizations hold their managers accountable for achieving business results, such as increasing sales, minimizing expenses, or improving quality measures. However, they don't always hold them accountable for the development of their direct reports, even though successful development heavily depends on a manager's ability to support and reinforce the usage of newly acquired skills. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to involving leaders of learners, some session attendees have experienced success when involving managers in ongoing feedback, providing the leaders of the learners with the same tools as the learners, and educating managers in advance about the development initiatives their direct reports will be experiencing.

#2 Challenge: Increasing “Stickiness”

Manager SuppportYou can introduce the best leadership skills in training sessions, but if learners don’t incorporate those new skills back on the job, what have you truly gained? Not much. Sustaining learning beyond the formal learning experience to drive on-the-job application is the ultimate goal. Incorporating an LMS, simulations, and resources beyond the traditional classroom have helped some of the dialogue participants reach that goal. Everyone agreed that it is critical to engage learners with relevant materials and activities outside of the classroom to increase the effectiveness of formal learning and truly make it stick.

#3 Challenge: Doing More With Less

Who isn’t under pressure to deliver more while also facing budget cuts? L&D professionals are no exception. Often, development funds are near the front of the line for the chopping block. So how can you maximize your development dollars? One attendee’s organization identifies internal employees to assist with training versus a dedicated HR resource. Other organizations are utilizing external facilitators and virtual classroom to reach global audiences without incurring travel costs.

#4 Challenge: Harnessing Technology, Social Media, and Mobile Support

There is no shortage of social networks, blogs, discussion forums, and other venues that could easily be used to engage learners and expand their knowledge after formal learning has occurred. Add that to the fact that almost every leader has a smartphone attached to his/her hip at any given moment, and you can probably think of a million ways to support leaders around the clock. So why then is this a challenge? Many organizations are finding it difficult to select the appropriate technology, gain buy-in from key stakeholders, and prove impact. Dialogue attendees noted successful use of technology by creating a holistic connection to mobility, coaching, experiential learning, and development planning. Assigning tasks after the training and implementing lead/lag measures also contributed to success in this category.

What are your challenges?
If you didn’t attend one of these events, would these challenges make your list? Leave a comment below to let us know what challenges you’re hoping to tackle in 2014.

Mark Phelps is a senior consultant, DDI's Leadership Solutions Group.

Posted: 15 Jan, 2014,
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