HR managers are in the hot seat today as they are tasked with the responsibility for developing the talent for the digital world. It is a complex task as it encompasses the strategy and implementation of talent development plan for three generations of employees vastly different from one another—the old-timers who have just about managed to cope with the intrusion of IT in every day life, a set of employees who have learnt to adapt to the requirements of the digital world with some changes to their work routine and those born in the digital world coming in with a very different mindset, capabilities and expectations—all of which require to be managed with individual attention and nuanced approaches.
While the recognition of the three groups of employees and their respective characteristics and differences is important, the reality is that the workplace is increasingly being shaped by digital technologies and it would be crucial to harness the talent potential with speed and clarity for the success of the business.
The subject of talent development is closely linked with the business needs and the goals business has set for itself. While designing the talent development initiative, two areas which are in the spotlight are defining the expected outcomes from the initiative and customisation of learning to suit individual needs. Defining outcomes would involve very thorough, granular understanding of performance expectations of the employees so that the initiative could be crafted suitably.
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Training initiatives are normally planned for a group of individuals at a time and it has not been possible to attend to the individual specific development needs, as a result. However with the access of smart digital tools, mass but customised learning is feasible to be designed at micro skill level. This provides an amazing impetus for the learner as well as the HR manager, starting with accurate diagnostic inputs at the planning stage.
The critical success factor for talent development would be to build a talent pool that is capable of unlearning old practices, agility in acquiring new skills and adapting to the changing landscape of the business domain, customer preferences and the digital trends that are likely to shape their business.
Digital talent development platforms could be designed such that the learning need not be restricted to the boundaries of the content or the programmes developed by the organisation but also help the learners to access the vast content available outside such boundaries on the internet with the help of intelligent tools. Some of the AI tools are capable of learning along with the learner about their preferences and styles and thus are capable of supporting their learning needs proactively, thus making the learning plans more exciting and effective for the individuals.
Digital talent development platforms are capable of facilitating collaboration, exchange of ideas and best practices which nurture learning environment in the organisation. Effective talent development initiatives not only help businesses to achieve their expected outcomes but also lead to the retention of high potential talent and building future leaders for the business. Therefore succession planning for senior managers in the organisation and leadership development frameworks that focus lately on innovation and the ability to reinvent themselves could be incubated or nourished on the strength of the digital talent development platforms.
Apart from preplanned learning content being made available, learners could benefit most by providing just in time and contextual learning support. Combination of AI, machine learning and virtual/augmented reality tools could enhance employees’ learning productivity through timely adaptive techniques that would help in targetting the expected outcomes within the desired timelines.
Reward and recognition of learning progress which are essential ingredients for motivation could also be facilitated at regular intervals based on rich analytics available. AI capabilities required to develop talent and organisational knowledge feed on one another and their effective combination would be important to make the talent available with the organisation more empowered.
Therefore the time has come to envision a structure in which all forms of knowledge assets that are impacted by digital technologies are brought under a common function for effective talent development. The well planned talent development plan should lead to quantum returns. Instead of the traditional value of human resources which is seen as 1+1 = 2, it is now possible to envision the combined capability of human and digital technology in a new equation of 1+1 = 11.
The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company