In 2021, L&D leaders have had to manage a more complex and demanding set of learning priorities than ever before. We’ve had to adapt to remote training and hybrid work environments. Some of us are even working alongside people we’ve never met in person.
Now, it’s time to get a handle on your learning priorities for 2022. Are you laser-focused on building a stronger sense of community among learners? Are you looking for ways to put new technologies to work? Or are you simply hoping to cope with another year of craziness?
In this end-of-year CLO Connect roundup post, we’re showcasing eight of the most important learning priorities our experts have set for 2022. From recognizing rich skill sets to putting data to work, here’s what the world’s top L&D leaders have on their minds.
Let’s get started by checking in with Amazon Web Services.
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2021 has been a truly crazy year for Amazon Web Services. That’s why Learning Strategy and Operations Leader (Public Sector) Ali Condah is focused on one thing above all else for 2022: scaling onboarding.
“The first thing is, we’re hiring so many people right now,” says Ali. “Amazon is a big organization, and we’re continuing to bring on more people. That’s why onboarding is going to be such a primary focus of mine.”
“We’re trying to target that at different role levels, from the early career individuals to the most senior positions. Everyone needs to be onboarded the right way, because there’s a lot of data out there showing a direct correlation between onboarding and performance, not to mention overall employee experience.”
And speaking of data, let’s turn to Qualtrics.
Want to find out the most important L&D priority of all? Becoming the L&D leader you’ve always wanted to be. Learn how in Volume 3 of our collected expert insight series.
At Qualtrics, Senior Learning Experience Designer Areebah Ajani is planning to spend 2022 putting learning data to work.
“We want to use data to guide our strategic development areas, for example, using our competency diagnostic,” she says. “Also, we want to use our performance data too. Right now we’re looking at how to tell a single story with both sets of data, based on how our top performers or our lower performers are doing.”
“We want to correlate this data to the skills or competencies our people say they need, and look for opportunities for next year’s strategy to guide this process based on that. We’re going to continue on value selling, consultative selling, soft skills, and the ability to connect with empathy with clients. That’s where we’re spending the most time and resources right now.”
Related: 3 Data-Based Ways to Prove Training ROI (+ Free Training ROI Calculator)
For Alessia Di lacovo, Global Leadership & Learning Manager at Too Good to Go, 2022 is going to be a very mobile year.
“We’re focused on internal and international mobility, because right now it’s a bit of a trial-and-error approach,” she says. “There’s room for us to create a framework around it, so we can maximize the amount of interchange and peer-to-peer learning by having people apply for different jobs or doing short assignments or projects in other countries.”
“We’re also focused on redesigning our growth paths for the many different roles we have within the company. Now, we’re focused on the key account growth path, which is the most relevant and top of mind topic, but we do have other teams we want to support with their growth and development, so we’re planning around that too.”
Over at Cisco, the L&D team is looking at how to put employee skills to work.
Josh Clark, Learning and Careers Director at Cisco, says 2022 is going to be all about harnessing employee skills in new and different ways.
“This is the year where we’re focusing above all else on skills. Every business leader wants to know: What are the skills my team has, and what are the skills they’re going to need for the future? How do we address the gap between these two things?”
“As we inventory the skills people have, and the skills they need for the future, we’re going to focus a lot more on this area. But in general, Cisco is going through a transformation from a hardware company to a software company. Based on revenue, Cisco is the fifth largest software company in the world.”
As he explains, this shift means a new focus on skills development for Cisco. “Selling software is a lot different from selling hardware, and it requires us to develop skills in new ways within our teams. We’re going to need to focus on giving people new skills to reflect this focus, whether it’s in sales, customer service, engineering, or elsewhere.”
And Cisco isn’t the only company focused on employee skills…
Related: Reskilling Employees is a Top Priority–But Do We Really Know What We’re Doing?
No matter how you cut it, it’s been a big year for AstraZeneca. So, what is Caroline Ford, Interim Global Digital Capability Lead, focusing on in 2022?
“Skills are at the front and center of everyone’s agenda right now. Many organizations are working on a new people model where they want to build, buy, borrow, or automate what people do today. It’s a very different premise from how businesses have hired people or worked with people in the past.”
“We’re taking a good look at the skills we have in an organization, but without limiting people to their historic qualifications set or previous experience. We’re breaking down the rich skill set various people bring to the organization and finding better ways to mobilize and deploy these.”
For Caroline, this question of how to recognize rich skill sets is going to be crucial. “We’re going to have a skills shortage, and how organizations solve this problem through bringing in new talent, reskilling existing talent, and buying in talent on a temporary basis is going to be critical to their success in the future.”
But 2022 won’t just be about solving the skills puzzle–it’ll also be about leadership.
For Donna Herbel, Past President & Board Member At-Large, Jobs Foundation, 2022 is going to be all about leading with empathy.
“I’ve been thinking about how empathy is a critical leadership skill,” she says. “When I look at leadership training and development programs, the focus is usually, ‘don’t be a jerk’. But we aren’t always doing enough to build truly empathetic people-centric leadership.”
“It isn’t necessarily about rolling over on everything, but we need leaders who have the ability to meet people where they are and help them find the guardrails to their personal best.”
As she points out, this leadership is critical to safeguarding talent. “We’re in the year of the Great Resignation, and people are on the move. As we deal with these challenges, we need to help people challenge some of these outdated notions about strong fist-pounding leaders. People need to build empathy as leaders to cope with what the future has in store.”
Next up, Klaviyo’s focus on being a global-first company.
Related: Leaders Are Learners, Too: 5 Ways L&D Teams Can Support Leadership Development
At Klaviyo, New Hire Enablement Specialist Natalie Higgins is focusing on helping learners to take a more global view of their own development.
“We’ve got a lot of great changes coming in Learning and Development,” says Natalie. “For example, we have a training and learning allowance we provide to all of our full-time employees. One of the changes that we made this year as we’re becoming a growing company is, we’re allowing people to use this allowance to learn new languages.”
“It’s a bit different from what we’ve done in the past, which was to focus on coding languages, or something that related directly to people’s roles. But now, we want to emphasize that it’s important to become a global company. If people want to learn a language they can speak to their colleagues or to our new customers, we’re here to support that.”
Lastly, Jennifer Recla, Director of Organizational & Learning Development at Colorado Access, is focused on building an environment in which people can feel safe.
“One of our key areas of focus is around psychological safety,” she says. “We want to create a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up and taking risks. The more research I do on innovation, the more I understand the importance of creating an environment where people feel comfortable admitting mistakes and looking at them as learning opportunities.”
“We want people to feel comfortable raising their hands and saying, ‘this doesn’t look right’, or, ‘this doesn’t feel right’. We want to build this foundation of psychological safety, because it’s so important for the innovation work that we do, and for the effectiveness of our teams.”
Related: Diversity in Learning: 10 Tips for Building an Inclusive L&D Culture from Visa, Qualtrics, WEX, and More
With these eight priorities, our L&D experts are well-placed to steer the ship on the right course and make 2022 a year of success in learning–no matter what the world has in store.
So, what’s at the top of your to-do list for 2022? Whatever it is, we’re here to help you out with all the insights and expertise you need. So don’t be a stranger–be sure to check back in with us in the New Year for more helpful L&D tips and guidance.
Thanks again to our eight experts for so generously sharing their knowledge and insights with us!
If you’re looking for more great L&D tips and stories, check out our interviews with Kassie Jobgen of Apex Fintech Solutions on using great storytelling to drive learning outcomes, and with Ruby Dhaliwal of Castlight Health on building ‘leadership stamina’.
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