TL;DR: Building new programs to help people lead through extended uncertainty, using different methods to engage and experiment, and testing new tools that personalize and meet people where they are should be part of your strategy for the next 6-12 months.

No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted things for a lot of us in many ways. I know many organizations are really examining how they spend their time and budget, particularly around talent development.

Results from Training Magazine’s latest survey that there’s a 61% increase in training budgets, which is really good news. To me, it’s a signal that investment in people and growth is happening, despite the fear of market contraction and uncertainty. It’s times like these that investment signals an organizational culture that people want to be a part of for the long term (even through the tough times!). Plus, additional investment is happening with customer education, which is a great method to keep connected and build relationships.

Investment in people and growth is happening, despite the fear of market contraction and uncertainty.

Where does that take Talent Development in the short, medium, and long term?  I’ve been thinking that the industry has been pivoting for a while (and why I started SUPER*MEGA*BOSS, to be honest) about what skills people need and how they’re getting them. COVID-19 has accelerated this greater need for Digital Transformation of Talent Development.

NEW DIGITAL PROGRAMS

From anti-racism sessions to return-to-work-safely programs to sessions to help cope with anxiety, uncertainty, and stress, I’ve seen lots of new programs out there and have created a few of my own. We’re facing a lot right now, and I have seen more courses aimed at helping people process a lot of the emotions that are happening in a productive way. The other really important thing about new programs is curating them well. There’s nothing worse than too much choice and I have seen a lot of companies build effective curated digital toolkits that give a few (but not too many) options for people to develop in a way that works for them. Pinterest sent a great example a few weeks ago of a collection of books, articles, videos, and resources and shared it freely. I developed something similar for a client last year that involved auditing current resources and then curating them into a more usable format. Your leaders want that fast toolkit and don’t want to spend a lot of time searching for it. Proactive curation of digital resources is an important skillset for this digital transformation.

Proactive curation of digital resources is an important skillset for this digital transformation.

NEW DIGITAL METHODS

How are you going to convert a 3-day “white glove” high touch leader program into something digital? A lot of organizations are still grappling with that. Maybe just for this year, maybe for the long term. How do you keep people engaged virtually and still feel like you’re going deep on topics and transferring behavior and habits? One cool method I’ve been using is a weekly Book Club to foster learning, reflection, and action. Our attention span in the digital world is low, and a weekly Club facilitated discussion fosters deep connections quickly but isn’t an exhausting all-day Zoom session. I just experimented with running a club for my own book, Wild Success, and have some lessons learned if you’re interested. It creates that cohort/community feeling and has been a great connection point during uncertainty.

NEW DIGITAL TOOLS

I’ve been excited about the emergence of more effective digital tools for learning. Tools that are less clunky (I’m looking at you, complicated LMS) and more immediate for our fast-paced world. One tool that is helping with the momentum process: the SMS course. We’re all super busy and we forget. People want quick reminders that “meet them where they are,” aka, in our phones. We’re looking at our phones for info, for connections, why not get some learning while we’re there? These are great as standalone courses or to reinforce what you’ve already learned.  You can try one of mine free to see how it works. When well-crafted, they can be interesting and fun.

WHAT’S NEXT?

You may be in the midst of working through your new Talent Development strategy—or maybe your Digital Learning strategy. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by all the disparate programs, methods, and tools you have and it’s tough to curate and connect them. No matter where you are, I’m curious as to what you’re seeing and trying to transform your talent development to the digital space. Happy to partner with you and share my thoughts from working with a variety of forward-thinking companies and experiments I’ve done in the past. Let me know what’s up in the comments.