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ATD Blog

UMU, ATD Partner to Discuss Global Trends in Talent Development

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

ATD President and CEO Tony Bingham joined UMU CEO Dongshuo Li on April 20 for a discussion about global learning trends and successfully creating learning opportunities in a hybrid work environment.

During the event, the CEOs talked about learning in a hybrid work environment, the importance of successfully transferring learning (especially when much of it is happening in a virtual setting), and upskilling and reskilling to ensure that organizations have the skills for success now and in the future.

Hybrid Work Environment

New ATD research on hybrid teams shows that managers are the key to creating and maintaining productive hybrid teams. Before the pandemic, only 20 percent of managers oversaw hybrid teams. Today, that number is 69 percent.

“Organizations that provided managers with training that covered both traditional and virtual employees were more likely to be high performers,” noted Bingham. “And that training couldn’t just be any training. It had to be specifically on team building in a hybrid setting. And that was associated with better organizational performance.”

The research also found that managers needed specific training on managing in person and virtually, coaching employees, and team building. Communicating tasks, priorities, and expectations within the team were seen as the most important skill needed by managers, while team building was most important to 74 percent of those surveyed and rated the most challenging skill by 71 percent.

“On the other side of it, you have to train employees how to communicate and function as a hybrid team,” Bingham added.

Li added that UMU, an interactive platform that allows you to engage and interact with participants via their mobile devices and project the responses in real time, is looking at building up digital headquarters and digital capabilities through technology to help everyone seamlessly connect with each other.

During the pandemic, Li noted that UMU’s learning and development included three actives:

  • Reactive
  • Active
  • Proactive

“We are reacting to a new way to collaborate, communicate, and do business,” Li said. “We have developed a lot of new constraints and challenges during this pandemic, but we should not be indifferent to all of these challenges and constraints. Instead, we should actively embrace these challenges and react to them. That will give the organization the ability to be successful. We have to think about the future—what will change and what will remain unchanged—and then we need to build a strategy to address these changes.”


Successful Learning Transfer

Learning transfer, Li explained, is about converting efforts into results.

“When you are talking about learning transfer, the most important thing is practice, because practice makes perfect,” said Li. “Practice also makes performance. We usually practice so we can build up our performance.”

Bingham added that it is not just practice; it is perfect practice. “I think that is an important distinction as we move forward. Technology is going to help us ensure that we are doing the right things, and we can adjust as we see the learner either not understanding or not practicing the right things.”

Technology has helped create personalized learning, which has helped make learning more effective and efficient. People don’t have to learn what they already know, but Li points out that using technology to create a learning community will help learners connect to other leaders through dialog, conversation, and debate.

“Learning is a process. We can build this constructive process for all so they can absorb, understand, and connect the new knowledge with their existing knowledge,” Li explained.

Bingham agreed, adding, “When you look at learning, it requires making connections that you potentially didn’t see before.”


Upskilling and Reskilling

Upskilling and reskilling are critical for an individual’s and organization’s future readiness.

“I think it is important that we are training on the right skills,” Bingham said. “We talk a lot about how we can train on the skills that are necessary and can be applied to the job. This requires some business and talent development acumen. There’s got to be an understanding of what the business needs are and then identifying the capabilities that are required to support those needs. Then we need to determine where the individual or group is relative to those needs.”

Bingham added that many TD professionals stop there, but it is imperative that TD professionals measure, monitor, and adjust along the way. It is important to define success and identify failure and where changes need to be made.

Li noted that inflation and market challenges are putting the spotlight on productivity. “I think learning is really important because companies are asking their employees to work harder and smarter. When we talk about smarter, that means upskilling and reskilling to do something in a totally different way.

Important Time for Talent Development

According to Bingham, it is a critical time for TD professionals. Inflation, supply chain limitations, and employee retention and engagement are crucial to organizations along with finding innovative ways to deliver income. Organizations are expecting TD professionals to find ways to make employees more efficient.

“TD professionals have to measure what is important to the business,” Bingham added. “It is all about impact. How do we measure the impact of what TD is doing to what’s most important to the business?”

It is also an important time for learning leaders, who need to prove impact to remain relevant, Bingham added. “Learning leaders have a seat at the table. According to a LinkedIn Learning survey, in 2020, 24 percent of learning leaders had a seat at the table, but in 2021 that number rose to 63 percent. That’s huge. … We have to demonstrate that we belong at that table and that we are contributing to our people and organizational success. ”

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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