Unlocking Professional Growth with CEO and Manager Input

When executive leaders and managers champion the learning and development of their organization, employees of all ages and skillsets are supported in their professional growth.

Work is always changing, and so are we, as we meet the imperative of adapting to new ways of accomplishing tasks and filling in knowledge gaps. We need learning and development opportunities to remain relevant in a rapidly changing workplace. The need to adapt and upskill concerns not just the individual employee, but also 79% of CEOs, who are concerned about shortages of essential skills in the workplace. From CEOs to managers, learning and development is a key strategy to skills development and building a culture of learning in the organization.

CEOs Can Foster Professional Growth

According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report, buy-in and active championing of learning and development presents a unique opportunity for executive leaders. CEOs spend 20% more of their time learning soft skills than the average learner, yet only 27% of learning and development professionals report that their CEOs are active champions of learning, and only 34% of learners reported that their executive team encouraged them to learn. CEOs and other chief executive leaders can lead the way in prioritizing the learning and development of their enterprises.

Professional Development Goals for Managers

Managers spend 30% more time learning soft skills than the average learner. Managers are the next link in the chain to unlocking their team’s learning and development potential. LinkedIn’s report asked learning and development professionals their three biggest challenges in the year ahead, and the top result was “Getting managers to make learning a priority for their teams.” This was followed by “Creating a culture of learning” and “Increasing employee engagement of learning.”

When asked how learning and development professionals can promote learning programs to activate managers, respondents’ top tactics were integrating learning into onboarding; marketing the flexibility of online learning programs; integrating learning into performance reviews; and email promotions (which was also identified as the top way managers find out about learning programs). Managers know what new skills their teams need and must be the first to promote a growth mindset. Indeed, the LinkedIn report found that 54% of employees would spend more time learning if they had specific course recommendations. Learning and development professionals are working to secure this buy-in, with 51% planning to launch upskilling programs in 2020, and 43% planning to launch reskilling programs.

Establishing Professional Development Goals: Skills to Start With

The mix of skills in demand change frequently. For example, LinkedIn’s report found Blockchain is the new most in-demand skill. This was followed by cloud computing, analytical reasoning, artificial intelligence and UX design. For soft skills, the top 5 were creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence.

While employees of all ages want to learn, their interests vary. The report found that management and leadership learning are the top interest of baby boomers, Gen X and millennials, while new software was the top interest of Gen Z. Regardless of demography, the desire to learn exists across all age groups.

Professional Development Approaches

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to learning and development, because each employee learns differently. However, according to McKinsey, the most significant learning enablers are technology platforms and applications. Examples include virtual classrooms, mobile-learning apps, learning-video platforms, and small private online courses. For the mobility industry in particular, the Worldwide ERC® Learning Portal offers a collection of online professional development courses and learning options that enable mobility professionals to expand their industry knowledge, earn badges and pursue continuing education credits.

Regardless of how an organization chooses to engage its employees in learning and development opportunities, active championing from executive leadership and management is crucial in any approach. From the top-down, fostering a culture of learning allows employees to grow, develop valuable skills, and enhance their work experience.

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