27 September 2023

Supporting professional development: Helping teams build careers

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Anthony Santa Maria* explains how managers can use skills to build career paths for their entire teams.

According to our survey of 5,154 professionals, organisations need more from Learning & Development (L&D) than ever.

Not only that, but the very purpose of this business function is changing.

L&D isn’t just about guiding the individual employee anymore; it’s about guiding the entire organisation.

Today’s L&D professionals lead their organisations into the future of work by equipping their employees with the skills needed to overcome new challenges, grow through changing conditions, and thrive.

To pull this off, L&D leaders are reinventing the L&D process and adopting new tools to see it through.

The new face of L&D is data-driven and focused on skills rather than just roles.

One of L&D’s core objectives is to create a workforce that adapts and evolves to solve problems, not just fill positions.

Read on for a crash course on how you can achieve this new goal, by using data-driven, skills-based learning practices to build career paths and cultivate the skills your organisation needs all at once.

Skills: the new lifeblood of L&D

According to a recent survey, close to three-quarters of business executives believe new-skill development is required to work effectively in ever-changing work scenarios.

Respondents noted three benefits of skill building:

  • Employees keep their business competitive
  • Organisations navigate crises and changes more effectively
  • Employees develop into other roles

Most importantly, skills-based learning is personalizable.

Instead of focusing on what an employee needs for a particular job, L&D pros can help them discover and hone the skills they need for both their full career development and the challenges the organisation will face.

How skills-based learning works

Effective skills-based learning is data-driven and personalized to each employee.

For instance, the LinkedIn Learning Hub learning experience platform uses AI to identify skills that leading professionals in your industry have on their LinkedIn profiles, providing a benchmark to inform your skill-building strategy.

Understanding these skills allows you to focus on what your learners need, not just what their roles require.

Instead of having salespeople take courses on “sales,” for instance, “sales” becomes a much more incisive set of skills, such as “CRM software,” “sales management,” or “social selling.”

Using skills to determine the right path for your employees

When you understand the skills a specific person needs, you’ll have a clear, individualized path for each of your employees.

Compare the employee’s existing skills to the skills of professionals in both similar roles and at higher positions.

Once you have a list of the skills pertinent to each role in your organisation, survey employees to understand which ones they want and need.

Try to answer the following questions:

  • Which skills are employees already proficient in?
  • Which skills are they most interested in learning?
  • Are there any skills they don’t possess but should?
  • Which skills do they need to learn to get to the next level?
  • Are your employees interested in management or individual-contributor career paths?

Answering each of the questions is the first step to designing a career path for each employee.

Choose to develop skills that meet as many of the criteria as possible:

  • The employee doesn’t possess, or doesn’t possess at a competitive level
  • The employee is interested in learning
  • The employee needs to develop to achieve goals

Aligning your skills strategy with organisational goals

After you answer the questions above, you’re halfway through the initial design process.

The next step is to determine what your organisation needs from your learners.

Answer the following questions:

  • What are your organisation’s goals?
  • What is your organisation’s strategic vision?
  • What skills do your employees need to meet these goals?
  • Of the skills you require, which are currently lacking in your workforce?

When you’ve reviewed the goals and the skills to answer this question, you’ve reached the most critical step: putting it all together.

Compare the skills you need with what your employees want.

“Balance” these lists by matching the skills you need to each of the employees who want them.

When you’re done, you’ll have a template for designing career and learning paths where each employee learns not only what they want to learn, but also what your organisation needs.

Into the future: Creating lifelong learners and cultivating business agility

Creating these career paths is only the first step.

As an L&D professional, you should aim to constantly monitor progress and results, then alter your plans to account for your findings.

The skills-based approach to L&D synthesizes employee development and organisational growth into one goal.

Your employees learn the skills they want, and your organisation gains a workforce capable of tackling the challenges of tomorrow.

Ultimately, skills-based learning makes it possible to create a workforce of lifelong learners and agile professionals.

By teaching your professionals how to learn and why learning matters in a professional setting, you’ll empower your workforce to flexibly develop into whatever they need to be.

LinkedIn can help.

Our Learning Hub was designed to facilitate the skills-based L&D approach, and it utilizes the most reliable source of data on professional skills available today: LinkedIn itself.

*Anthony Santa Maria is a Marketing Specialise at LinkedIn.

This article first appeared at linkedin.com.

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