So You Want to Be a Chief Learning Officer:
Here’s What It Takes
Learning officers go by many names in organizations large and small: chief learning officer, chief knowledge officer, training director, head of learning and development, chief education officer, and the list goes on. Whatever the title may be, there’s a clear demand for organizations to think more strategically about how they use and deploy their human capital assets. This means that the demand for learning and development programs, and thus learning and development teams, will grow. It is the job of a learning development officer to identify learning goals, create learning strategies, oversee their execution and ensure all educational programs align with larger company goals.
As the Great Resignation has shown us, businesses are facing staffing shortages and employees are demanding more from their employers. For those individuals that have the honor of leading the learning and development of an organization, these skills and attributes can ensure success for their organization and employees.
Strong Presentation & Persuasion Skills
Learning officers routinely work with C-suite and senior level executives and are also on the forefront of working with employees of all levels. To be successful, a learning officer must be able to articulate how and why their learning development programs will help their organization meet business objectives and make the case that it’s worth the investment.
Every organization has goals and objectives they aim to meet. With frequent communications with the organization’s leadership team, a learning officer must also understand, communicate and help their organization meet these goals and objectives through their learning and development programs. Every learning and development program is designed to meet the strategic goals of the organization.
Knowledge and Execution of Learning Methods & Concepts
It’s not enough to have someone on the team that develops and carries out the deployment of the courses. A learning officer must understand how adult learners learn. Comprehension of instructional design will help learning officers develop programs that utilize best practices and proven methodologies that ultimately increase workforce development. In addition, learning officers must stay abreast of all learning trends.
Knowledge of and Ability to Work Across All Business Units
As much as learning officers must know the latest trends on learning and professional development, they must also know each business, who and what makes up their team, and the functions of each unit. Merely knowing and understanding each business unit’s function is not enough. Learning officers must also use their interpersonal and soft skills to get to know the employees and work well with them. This ensures that all team members are more likely to be on board for change when it comes.
Emotional intelligence, a term coined by psychologist Daniel Goleman, refers to the ability of recognizing and controlling your own emotions, while also influencing of others around you. Goleman evaluated leaders in a study and found those who were most successful had these four components that make up emotional intelligence: self-awareness; self-management; social awareness; and relationship management. Those that are self-aware recognize their emotions and how they impact others. They then manage those emotions, even in the most stressful of times. Leaders with emotional intelligence will also be able to recognize the emotions of others. The old adage of putting yourself in the shoes of others is the key to social awareness and helps leaders practice empathy. This enables them to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Lastly, the ability to influence, coach and mentor others – including resolving conflicts effectively – is the final component of emotional intelligence. A core function of the learning officer’s job is to develop the current team you have. Emotional intelligence ensures you have high employee engagement and low turnover rates.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s that the needs of a business can change in a day. A learning officer who is flexible – to both the needs of the business and the needs of its workforce – will have greater success in the position and meeting company goals.
Do you have what it takes?
Learning officers make valuable change within organizations and make learning and development part of every day. A learning officer that can shift the focus from just the development of skills to a growth mindset will help employees and organizations adapt for the future.
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