It's right up there with the basics that you need for a job, and it starts with asking the right questions, says Anders Sjøløkken, Vice President, Learning & Knowledge Management, TechnipFMC.
Q How has your learning strategy today evolved from what you’d planned out last year?
We combined learning and knowledge management (KM) into a single organisation in early 2020 to drive business value from an overall learning ecosystem. This strategy leverages content curation as well as crowd-sourced contributions from the field, and ensures that all sources of learning are available to the employee: what they need, when they need it, whether it is a wiki page, a network, an eLearning course, or on-demand OJT (on-the-job training).
So while the external challenges over the past year required tactical changes, most notably a dramatic shift in the percentage of learning and KM solutions we needed to deliver virtually, our fundamental strategy going into the year was solid. Our goal was to fully leverage the rich opportunities and cost savings provided by digitalisation while facilitating a learning culture in which we thrive and realise possibilities both as people and as a global business.
Because we were already focusing on increasing digital delivery when the pandemic began, we simply accelerated the schedule and rapidly delivered more virtualised solutions, with a laser focus on growing our core competencies of project management, technical skills and leadership development.
Another key objective has been eliminating duplications while consolidating and globalising content, so that the organisation could truly act as one across the world.
Establishing these priorities for our new team early in 2020 enabled us to thrive and be agile while withstanding the external factors 2020 brought to bear.
Q What are the hottest, function-agnostic skills in your industry today – skills that will never fail you?
One thing that will never fail us is problem-solving capabilities! Problem-solving is right up there with the basics that you need for the job – science, mathematics, etc. for engineers, for instance – and it starts with asking the right questions.
Collaboration is also critically important. It is something that’s often celebrated when it happens within organisations, but we need to get to the point where collaboration is considered a capability as basic as reading. It should be fundamental.
Collaboration enables social learning, innovation and better business outcomes, and we are really invested in supporting 'enterprise dialogue'.
Connecting people across the organisation really can 'level up' our knowledge as a business, and platforms and systems that connect people will continue to increase value. Anything that can foster dialogue better, I would bet on, and that’s why knowledge management is a key element in our learning strategy. We utilise knowledge management and social learning tools and techniques to underpin learning programmes and fuel collaboration, both cross-functionally and within communities of practice.
Q How are you building these skills in your workforce? Essentially, how do you help employees accelerate their learning (especially when it comes to soft skills)?
Problem-solving and collaboration, mentioned above, are examples of leadership skills, an area of strong focus for us. We believe that leadership is for everyone, no matter your job, no matter your level, and are creating a ‘leadership development universe’ to help all employees develop these skills in four key areas:
- Engaging people, which is about leading with authenticity and courage, creating an inclusive culture and empowering and developing others;
- Thinking strategically, encompassing a global perspective, embracing innovation and adopting a growth mindset;
- Driving results, which involves leading with a lean mindset, driving accountability and demonstrating customer-intimacy; and
- Embracing change, comprising acting with agility, mastering complexity and making data-driven decisions.
This leadership development universe is called Leadership You, and utilises all aspects of our learning ecosystem, from e-learning to instructor-led training, to workshops, from formal coaching and mentoring to an informal leadership network for social learning, where employees can exchange ideas and share best practices, having that ‘enterprise dialogue’ about what leadership really means. This combination of formal learning enables everyone to have a personalised, self-directed experience to fit their unique abilities, expertise and needs.
Q On the HR front - what are the top three critical skills for HR to have in and beyond 2021?
It has been said many times, but I fundamentally believe that to be a great HR business partner, we need to be more strategic business partners. To do that, HR professionals need to embrace the skills and characteristics that you’d look for in a real business partner: from general business acumen to the issues business leaders have to deal with: what can be automated or outsourced? how can we be more lean?
We need to have a real and authentic interest into diving into the world of whatever it is our business is doing … in our company, engineering, for example.
In addition, to keep up with today’s world and provide an equitable while at the same time more innovative culture, HR professionals must strive to live and breathe inclusion and diversity (I&D). We need to put the whole I&D value system in a mental and executable playlist that we can deploy at every stage of the employee lifecycle. We have to not only implement but to fully embrace structures and processes to make it easier to inject inclusion and diversity into the organisation, to change behaviours.
Problem-solving skills, collaboration and overall leadership skills are as important for HR professionals as anyone, and an HR team that embodies these skills as well as inclusion and diversity, can have a profound impact on the overall effectiveness of an organisation.
Q Lastly, if there was a magic wand and you could do anything within your power to build a future-fit workforce, what action would you take?
A 'future fit workforce': we are doing it! We have a two-year 'Learning for the Future' plan and are tailoring what we deliver to our internal clients to fit today’s increasingly digital world while at the same time, we retain our focus on collaboration and connecting people.
Curriculums have traditionally been more heavy on content, 'having the right content gets you there,' but our aim is to give our various employee populations access to relevant content and strategies to not only do their job but to further develop themselves in a new role or area. This ranges across the entire learning ecosystem mentioned above, from premium libraries in which employees can read and study all the way to collaborative networks where employees discover, discuss and create new knowledge together with others in that enterprise dialogue approach mentioned above.
This holistic overlay of KM, collaboration and social learning strategies on top of formal learning programmes and curriculums is a process-based approach that more closely matches how we live and work within the organisation and society as a whole. The key component is dialogue, which will never go out of style or lose its value.
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