In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help Learning and Development leaders navigate this unpredictable time.
This week’s Learning and Development action call hosted a special guest: Jay Moore, Global Learning and Culture Leader, GE Crotonville at GE. He was interviewed by Kevin Oakes, CEO and co-founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), and we shared some of our latest pulse survey data on return to the workplace trends. Here are four key themes that emerged:
The pandemic has accelerated L&D shifts, such as an increased use of digital approaches. GE’s Crotonville facility is the most iconic leadership development facility in corporate America. Dating back to 1956, it has seen its share of both growth and evolution. But even at a location with such a strong legacy, the pandemic is causing some changes. GE was already increasing their use of digital technology, such as video content and virtual classroom learning. The blended learning mix is and will continue in this direction, with some plans for 2021 or beyond being implemented much sooner.
In-person ILT will change, not go away. In the short term, starting when it reopens in June, the Crotonville facility will more likely host regional groups than those coming in from around the globe. As with in-person ILT programs at other organizations, there will be changes to policies and procedures, e.g., some class sizes being smaller. GE’s programs were already shifting towards having more on-the-job learning and coaching elements, spread over many weeks, and then one-week of collaboration, networking, etc. at Crotonville—so this sort of blend will no doubt continue going forward.
Leaders as teachers. GE is also seeing an increase in a practice that i4cp has long recommended: leveraging leaders as teachers. This has benefits for both the learners, such as learning rich stories from the leaders who experienced them, and the leaders themselves, such as sharpening their reflective, communication, and presentation skills. This remains a practice that too few organizations take full advantage of, so see the i4cp/ATD whitepaper Leaders as Teachers: Engaging Employees in High-Performance Learning to learn more.
Leadership has quickly become more nuanced. Again, many trends in leadership capabilities and skills that were already underway pre-pandemic have been accelerated by COVID-19. Stronger listening skills (active listening followed by asking for clarification) are even more critical for remote leaders managing virtual and hybrid teams. Empathy is also key, with a focus on the highly contextual understanding of each employee’s needs. Others mentioned in the conversation were humility, transparency, and communication skills.