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2019 Leadership and Development Trends – What They Mean For You

3 min read

As 2019 has started to unfold, we’ve been keeping an eye on the major trends for L&D. Armed with that information, and based on recent research, we’ve identified five key L&D trends that you should keep an eye on. Here’s what they mean for your business this year and beyond.

       1. Better utilization of existing employees

Trend: Employers are developing a broader range of skills, “upskilling” their employees because of a tight labor market. It’s far easier, and less costly, to improve the skills of current employees, rather than find new hires with specific skills.

“In tight labor markets, employers must find ways to keep their people engaged. Development consistently shows up as one of the top items for driving employee engagement and retention,” says Ben Eubanks,.co-author of the 2019 Human Capital Management Trends report.

Instead of seeing a job as one whole piece, experts are now seeing jobs more granularly by looking at all the specific skills that could be useful in that role, and training for all of those. This improves an organization’s understanding of how best to place people into available roles.

It not only helps your organization by giving you employees who are more agile—it also works as an incentive for hiring and keeping talent. Your employees want to know that you’re investing in them, and training is a way to literally and figuratively do that.

       2. Focus on a culture of purpose and diversity

Trend: Culture is increasingly important for both retention and hiring — it will make or break your organization.

Culture specifically includes two factors: Purpose (people want to know what they are working toward and how they are contributing) and psychological Safety (being comfortable voicing ideas and risking failure, which comes from a culture of peer coaching and mentoring and treating failure as a learning experience). Diversity in the workplace also contributes to psychological safety, extending well past gender.

Companies that simply had a purpose statement financially outperformed companies that didn’t by over 40 percent. Furthermore, companies in which leaders wove purpose into their daily decisions and behavior saw an additional 42 percent boost in financial performance.

In addition, organizations with more women in leadership are 1.4 times more likely to have sustained, profitable growth.

Everyday choices are tied into organizational culture. Make sure your organization is aligned not only behind your overall goal, but also behind how you’re getting there—and make sure your leaders can articulate this.

       3. Develop a robust leadership pipeline

Trend: Disruption is a constant threat, so businesses are preparing by developing their leadership pipeline.

Organizations that extend their development efforts below senior levels, to high-potentials and managers, are more than four times more likely to financially outperform those that don’t. Every industry is now under threat of disruption, and having different sources of talent and skills help those organizations innovate to adapt to change.

Beyond just disruption—there’s also a talent shortage. With that looming, future leaders need to be promoted from within, and from middle management. Make sure yours are equipped with the skills they need to be the leaders of your organization.

       4. Emphasize communication skills

Trend: Communication skills are critical at every level of an organization.

Currently, most organizations focus their soft skills training on senior leadership. Don’t fall into this trap.

If you’re planning on promoting your future leaders from within (which trends are saying is unquestionably the right move), then you need to train them right. This group needs soft skills training in areas like communication, empathy, and storytelling to prepare them for moving into more senior roles.

Furthermore, communication skills help people cope with problems or uncomfortable situations, learn to embrace their voice and bring innovation to their role, build strong relationships both internally and externally, and more. You want every person at your organization to be armed with this skill set. Train them for it.

       5. Make training both flexible and accessible

Trend: When it comes to training, people need flexibility.

People often turn down training opportunities because they simply can’t spare the time. Don’t let this be the norm for your organization.

Advancements in technology have made tremendous improvements in workplace learning. Training companies have realized that while in-person workshops are effective, they just aren’t always an option for today’s overloaded workforce. Often, a mix of delivery methods (classroom, virtual, on-line), combined with coaching for reinforcement, provides the strongest outcomes.

Luckily, there now exists training that is bite-sized, virtual, asynchronous, self-paced, and more. The point is, it’s flexible—the way it needs to be. Invest in training like this to ensure your teams feel understood and appreciated, and that they have the most up-to-date skills.


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