Ten key trends are helping to shape the current landscape of organizational training and development, according to research by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association.
AMA has tracked a number of developments—some major, some minor—affecting T&D that must be understood as well as adapted to current market realities. For instance, workers are becoming much savvier when it comes to tapping into company leadership programs and external development opportunities. There’s also steady globalization, pressure for greater transparency, and an expectation by senior management that these efforts pay off in some measurable way. Every professional development must be attuned to these trends.
The key trends identified by AMA Enterprise are:
1. The definition of “leader” is broadening. A majority of large organizations now consider individuals to be leaders based on their impact, not on their authority or position. Increasingly, a leader is viewed as “anyone, whether they manage others or not, who is a top-performer in their specific role.”
2. Management faces a more risk-averse workforce. A growing proportion of the workforce has become risk-averse, probably due to the sluggish economy and weak job market. Management must assess its own responsibility for this phenomenon and determine if the organization really encourages initiative or risk taking.
3. Demand for ”Big Data” skills is growing sharply. A greater volume of information is now at the disposal of organizations today, but employees lack the analytical skills to deal with such complex data, and management is now pressed to provide the needed training.
4. More organizations avoid the term ”high potential.“ There is a growing reluctance to call candidates for accelerated career development ”high potential.“ The term may suggest that other employees do not have much potential, which is not a healthy message to convey, either to them or to the organization.
5. Selection for high-potential programs is becoming more impartial. Companies now seek to make the application process for such programs more systematic and impartial. As a consequence, expect greater transparency on performance criteria, changes in corporate strategy, more flexible career opportunities, and tighter high-potential selection and management succession processes.
6. Leadership programs are being retooled for globalization. Some companies have long had a global dimension to their development initiatives. But others find they must now play catch up or lose ground in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The top competencies for global leadership development are change management, ability to influence and build coalitions, and critical thinking and problem solving.
7. Many organizations find themselves ill-prepared for rising turnover. One-third of employers are concerned that employee turnover may rise as the job market improves, a 2013 AMA survey found. And many companies admit they are not ready to deal with the challenge and are seeking suitable solutions.
8. Core skills are a renewed focus. Classic programs devoted to basic skills often suffered during the recession, taking a back seat to specialized modules that met immediate business challenges. There is now greater demand for programs that develop communications skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity, all of which aim to improve long-term employee productivity.
9. More and more employees now seek entry into leadership programs. If the selection process for programs once had a low profile, ambitious individuals now volunteer themselves for any kind of leadership development offering. Organizations realize they must find ways to meet this growing demand.
10. Growing focus is on developing individual contributors. More than one in three organizations have stepped up efforts to develop individual contributors. So-called high-potential candidates from the management ranks often get all the attention, while individual contributors hardly figure in development programs. Yet these are key constituents within every organization—core players who get things done despite having no direct management authority.
Change has always been constant in the T&D sector. Some change is obvious, but other change is less so. Development professionals must prepare and be able to respond to change in all its forms.