Technically People
Technically People

Episode · 1 month ago

L&D Leaders: First, Empower the Learner


“The softest of skills — empathy, emotional intelligence, DEI, growth mindset — those are actually the hardest skills to build,” says Elisa Vincent, VP of Global Talent Enablement at Skillsoft, which supports customers’ learning through L&D content and technology. She adds: “They're also power skills.”  

Since the onset of Covid, people have certainly turned to Skillsoft to learn digital skills — but the company has also seen significant increases in demand for soft skill learning. “Become a Great Listener,” for instance, was Skillsoft’s number 1 completed course in 2021.   

In this far-ranging conversation, Elisa draws from her expertise across HR to discuss the evolving role of the L&D practice, the implications of the pending mass exodus of women from the workplace (and what to do about it) and how L&D can help people redefine career success.

Elisa also offers support to people enablement leaders: “We are called to be a new frontline in our organizations,” she says. “Look at everything that we talked about today [on this podcast]. We talked about skills, mindsets, health and wellness, the mass exodus of women in the workplace. These are stressful and high-gain topics.” 

Leaders in the people space, she says, need to support one another in the same way we support healthcare professionals on the true front lines of the pandemic.  

Episode Highlights:

  • The evolution of the L&D practitioner from “trainer” to “Chief Transformation Officer” 
  • Soft skill training is on the rise (and why there’s nothing soft about them) 
  • The long-term ramifications of the mass exodus of women from the workplace
  • Many employees, especially women, see the global upheaval in work as a chance to redefine career success 
  • Why companies should rethink their attitudes toward transferable skills, plus who and how they hire, as more professionals break free from stale corporate structures to forge new career paths

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Welcome to technically people acommunity conversation by and for workplace futurist brought to you bythe tech recruitment platform built in the podcast features, insights fromleaders, thinkers and doers on the vanguard of building human centeredworkplaces of the future along the way you'll hear concepts thatwill stop you in your tracks, concepts that inspire you to ask yourself.What's the most future forward way to approach my people leadership, we allknow the future of work isn't waiting around. So, let's get on with the show. Hey everybody welcome to the podcast. Iam Tiffany Myers with Belton and I'll, be hosting this conversation that I'mreally looking forward to today we're going to examine land from all sorts ofangles with a leader who is up to some really interesting stuff. So AlisaVincent is the VP global talent, enablement at skill, soft and skill.Soft supports learning and performance for customers, and it does so throughlearning content platforms, as well as a software suit for TA and learning andtalent management. So Elisa has more areas of expertise than I can list here,but she leads talent, learning and Dei at skill. Often so, today we'll focuson Alisa's thoughts about what's next for land leaders as we transformeverything about the way we work we live and the way we learn so Elisa.Welcome to the show. Thank you for being here. Thank you, tiffany. I am delighted tobe here today, so how about we dive right in if there is one generally heldbelief that you would do away with around all and what would that betiffany? That is such a great question and one that I think so many peoplelistening today will have an answer for from their own experiences. For me, oneof the biggest mishell beliefs about anyone who is leading learning anddevelopment opportunities in an organization is that it's all abouttraining and were traders right. So I think gone of the days where we arelooked at as chief training officers and here to stay are the days where weare chief transformation officers and we are called to build not onlyprograms but systems processes that help enable an advance our people andso what we are called to do in so often for all of us who are working in land.This is both the greatest opportunity, but also the greatest challenge is tohave a seat at the table and to be seen as those leaders who are transformingour work places and helping them become future ready and directly related tothat is this idea. The training is not an effective way to transform heartsand minds of people, and we hear about this all the time to phone, especiallywhen we're talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, training and we'resaying: Look if we're looking for behavior change, it takes so much morethan a course to help me explore and overcome my implicit bias. Well, here'swhat I have to say to that in effective training will always be in effectivetraining, but effective training, blended learning approaches.Experiences can absolutely and still and are the most effective ways toovercome bias and to transform hearts and mindsand behaviors, so the element you're adding now is just how importantlearning is to develop the whole human exactly and from the whole human comesbeing able to unleash all of those...

...elements in parts of ourselves ourstrength to be able to operate in a way. That's fully engaged, less stressed andable to innovate and transform and change and evolve really. So speakingof stress, I have a statistic from C G S, over two thirds of land teams havespent more than a quarter of their time, rethinking programs through thepandemic. So I wanted to see if you can share some of the changes that youthink companies will need to make to be future proof and and also anything thatyou've already put in place. I think it's a great question and I want topause for a moment about what we've learned this past year we saw a twohundred and seventy eight percent increase in people taking our coursescalled growth in developing emotional intelligence, so emotional intelligence.So here you have, I this balance, we're aware that the world we've changed theway we're working and people are looking to acquire new skills, andthese new skills are balanced between these technical digital skills and alsothese interpersonal leadership skills, and it makes all the sense in the worldthat you're developing softer skills. Now, if ever there has been a year foremotional intelligence, two thousand and twenty and two thousand and twentyone- those that is the time frame that we have needed it most in the world,not just in companies. I also saw that become a great listener, was gose'snumber one completed skill, so just goes along those lines. So I absolutely agree to any thanks forcalling out that stad there about becoming a great listener and we had aglobal crisis and we're working where we live rightand we live where we work, and so those boundaries are not as clear to many ofus as they have been in the past and we're looking forward to rewriting thescript on what work is and how we integrate. It balance it and so makingsure that we are still able to keep the human in the work and the humanity inour work. We can't lose that so again for Ellen D leaders. You know what Isay to my team. All the time is, our rule has shifted gone of the days wherewe stand on the stage and train and deliver and facilitate. Here are thedays where we need to be very comfortable in Agile to stand on thestage and inspire and motivate and educate and engaged, and then we needto be equally comfortable in no when to step off that stage in amplify voiceswithin the organization to be able to inspire and engage and educate andmotivate, and so today, for Ellen D leaders. It's that balance rightbetween being that core facilitator being that trainer and enabling othersempowering others to be able to do so as well. In my first strategic pillarfor my team for this year it starts with empowering the learner and powerthe learner, and with that we will be able to enable culture and then drivebusiness resolved. So I think we'll talk a little bit more about this ideathat that everyone can lead and that you resource them to do so. But let'smove on to to a topic that everyone will want to know about which ismeasurement. The ability to measure an LD program effectively will start atthe beginning and it'll start when you define the outcomes. You need tell mewhat kind of questions the land leader should focus on in thatpre roll out stage. So a few things when it's absolutely imperative for usas land leaders to set our KPIS and to...

...have a score card, I think it'sbecoming more and more difficult to measure organizational impact, and thereason for that is because we're not connecting ourselves to this keystrategic lovers and drivers and an organization like generating revenue.We're not doing that and we haven't been doing that as well as we can sobuilding a score card in ensuring that you are reporting on your metric duringthe Times that the organization is reporting on its strategic andfinancial metrics and analytics in that. You are able to prove that, becausethis strategic driver and the organization has moved forward, we'vebeen able to do this because of the learning right. We want to find that,because of it's going to mean that's going to mean the success of astrategic and N D, strategic learning and talent function. The very firstquestion that we need to ask ourselves is: What am I trying to measure and weall think about the different levels of measurement right. If I'm trying tomeasure how many people attended something that's to check the boxmeasurement, if we're trying to measure they attended. This particular learningexperience and they've been able to do x, Y and Z differently, and the resultsof doing x, Y and differently has been this. That's, ultimately themeasurement that we're looking for, and so especially for those of us that workclosely with sales enablement teams that were closely with other parts ofthe organization with business leaders. We want to ultimately be able tocapture what managers and leaders are seeing, is being done differently andis evolving in his driving business and then, lastly, I think it's importantfor us to be able to run. We run something called a hack lab. Is itgreat if it's not great? How can I make it great and so to be iterative withour score cards and our measurements and to constantly be evaluating if wecan only measure what I refer to as but sin seats data right now and say we hadthis, many people go to this training session. That's okay! How can I iterateon that and expand on that? We've touched on this: let's go a little bitdeeper. You've made a lot of headway with DEI. I understand you've createdan inclusion council, you have advisory groups, these are employee, led now there is one thing I have to askaround that, which is that I have seen a lot of press about the factthat companies are defaulting to this. Okay you're, a member of anunderrepresented group. You stood up so now go out there and quote unquote. FixDei for us tell me: Are you aware of this happen?How are you making sure that doesn't happen as skills aft yeah, so for skill,soft and for so many organizations around the world? Diversity, equity andinclusion has become at the forefront of our minds and our work, our culturein our business and so for us what's really important is that we have amindset of evolving understanding. That perfection is never the goal, and thisis very much a journey and what I've learned one of my biggest ha momentsthis year. It came slowly to me the more conversations I was having withpeers and also with employees in the organization and from some of theseglobal discussion forums that we've had this past year with our employees. Isthat there's a very fine line, tiffany between empowerment and Tokenism? If we're not careful and we don'tproperly resource these employees, giving someone the opportunity alone isnot enough right that could very easily create tokenism where they become theonly and we ineffectively and unfairly...

...a law, accountability andresponsibility on them to solve these challenges, for being very cautiousabout empowerment versus tokenism, and is part of that, we're avoiding that bymaking sure that we are investing in these leaders in these employees whohave said. I want to do this work, and this is meaningful for me, so we'retreating DEI leadership in retreating that democratization of the experienceas this is a leadership development opportunity for you. We are investingin you to help us do this work, but we are not removing our accountability asan organization, and this is so extremely important. So, yes, if Icould provide an example, we are proud to say that we have an inclusioncounsel at skill, soft. It's made up of representation, employe representationfrom all of our regions. We have employee advisory groups and all ofthose groups are run and led by our employees. All of those groups haveexecutive sponsors and the executive sponsors and our employee DEI leadersall go through learning experiences together, so we've built something thatit skills oft we actually sell to. Our customers called an aspire journey andwe've identified competencies that these leaders need to build right,because this is about skill development. This is an opportunity for you to growin your career and they go through this journey, which is a curated, blendedlearning. Experience of you take these courses. You Watch these two minutevideos you read, this book can read this article and the journey itself hasbeen built in a way that is reflective of neuro diversity, reflective of themany different ways in which adults learn, and so it's a multiple monthjourney, fully blended experience. We have some coaching that oval engaged inthat and again. The last point here is that our executive sponsors go throughthis journey, along with all of our employee leaders who are leading Dei soyeah. It just really underscores how important democratization of learningis. So I want to shift into a different sort of question. There are so manylonely people because of what we've just experienced globally and I thinkthat companies have an opportunity to use their inclusion of belongingapproaches to the extent that they can to mitigate loneliness. So tell me alittle bit about your thoughts on that, so I go back to how we, what do we callorganizations? We call them companies and what does that mean? Essentially, I work for a company means that you'reworking in the company of others it's about company, it's about relationships.I remember reviewing and going through an RP process for an play, engagement,survey provider and there was a question in one of the surveys. Thatsaid: Do you have a best friend at work and at first I thought well what asilly question. Why do I need a best friend at work? My best friend isn't atwork. It's not a silly question at all. What it's getting at is, do you feelcomfortable enough to be your whole self, and do you have enough trust withat least one person to be able to call them a close confidant, ally andpartner? And so, if I think about what's at the core of companies andbeing in the company of people and building a global networks, that'sabsolutely right. Right now, even though we have tried to stay connected,this pandemic has given us this view of how important that human element is toeverything that we do that human connection, and so we have a silentpandemic of loneliness, a silent...

...pandemic of burn out and stress anddepression. We have to think about maintaining those moments of connectionof Levity, of fun in safe ways, especially we hear of so many managers.Let's get together in the office, those of you who are willing to come who feelcomfortable coming, let's get together, let's grab a sandwich together andlet's just chat, that's wonderful, but we have to have an ear to the groundfor equity, which is what happens if you don't feel comfortable. Whathappens when you know your teams going to go in and they feel comfortable, notwearing masks, and you don't feel comfortable, not wearing a mask. Do youwant to be the only, and so as leaders we have to have heightened sensitivityto our cures for loneliness, if you will making sure that we are beingextremely sensitive and we're not exclusionary in thoseopportunities to connect moving forward, that's going to continue to be a bigpiece of solving to what was the word that you used hidden pandemic, yeah,hidden, invisible, silent, silent! It's about empathy, curiosity, so much ofcuring this silent pandemic in our organizations at loneliness is to make sure again to go back to thelens of equity in inclusion. There's another pandemic, that's happeningwhich could in fact and seems like it will in fact become endemic, which isthe potential mass exodus of women, which is frankly already happening. Youmade a really interesting and I think super important point. You know yousaid amid the volatility there's some opportunity here that we should beaware of, and maybe try to exploit so elaborate, a little bit on that sure. So in many parts of the worldthis has been referred to as the pink pandemic, and so it is exactly, as yousaid, this mass exodus of women from the workplace, some of it by choice,much of it not by choice- and this is concerning- and a lot of the statisticsthat we see is that could take us decades to recuperate right, thesocioeconomic inequity that this is created in women in the workplace,women and leadership positions. The list goes on and on in its skill. Softyou've done a lot of research on the pink pandemic in terms of why and whatwe're seeing happening in all parts of the world right where you not want tospeak just from the Lens in the United States, because this was a a globalexperience that will have long term ramifications in it. Also, though, isopportunity for women for organizations for businesses, for cultures, forsocieties, everybody to explore both root cause and also solutions to moveforward and to think outside the box. Women are, in fact leaving the workforce for a lot of reasons, but what we learn from this is that the structurein the systems are working for them right, and so, when you come up whenyou have a moment in our collective history, where children are learning inhybrid models or learning from home, where there's no access to supportnetwork such as grandparents or child care facilities for periods of time,the biggest impact that has globally is on women's careers, and so structuresaren't working for them and what women are realizing is I don't want to go back to the samestructures. I want to build new structures, and what's that going tomean for me right these old structures of advancement? I wasn't moving fastenough, but here, out of this moment, I took an opportunity right, I'm freelancing and that's working really well...

...for me, I'm consulting and that'sworking really well for me or I'm taking a break and exploring thisbuilding new skills right. I was in human resources before and now I wantto go into digital marketing, so taking some courses to become more proficientand knowledgeable of digital marketing. This is a moment right that women havethe allies and support of women have and that organizations have to redefinehow we think about career advancement, how we think about transferable skills,who we hire, who we look for in our hires. All of that is so important forus to consider so again, as we think about. Where does the opportunity lie?I want to make sure that we talk about it from three lenses, and this issomething that we talk about a skill soft all the time. What can wise womendo to build new skill sets to engage in our communities and build ourleadership capacity and confidence in this time into reimagine and redesignour careers? What can allies do to support and sponsor and mentor women,and what can organizations do to ensure the equitable advancement andrecruitment development and advancement of women in the organizations, with akeen eye to the fact that as women we have many intersectional points? We aremembers of black indigenous people of color communities. We are members ofLGBTQ IA class communities. We are members of so many differentcommunities and there are so many parts that make us that. How do we make surethat we can advocate for ourselves and then, as organizations we're beingthoughtful about? We build both systems and programs that help women to do so. Yeah, and I think, ending. A reallyimportant point to note that you alluded to is that this is this idea ofnot wanting to return to the old stale structures. The dinosaur structuresthat are in place isn't just a matter of what women want. It's alsohappening across the board among all people, so we know that sixty percent of people-and this is from up work, who turn to self employment during the pandemic,have no appetite for full time employment. I definitely think thatthis idea of new opportunity opening up, or at leastthe potential for us to really make it happen to make new ways of definingsuccess. New Ways of defining a career is a very real thing and a super highnote. I would actually love to move from that high note on to what we callthe two minute takeaway so Alisa. If you could give learning leaders threepieces of advice, what would those three pieces of advice be? Thank youfor this question. I always love reflecting on this right number. Oneput your own oxygen mask on. First, there's a reason where we get thoseinstructions every single time we board a flight and for learning leaders forany people, enablement leaders around the world. We need to make sure thatwe're taking care of ourselves. It's the advice that we give to ouremployees. It's the advice that we give to leaders and all organizations makesure that you are not in your team. Is Not the Cobbler's child, designingthese experiences for everybody else and not taking advantage of themyourself not advocating for yourselves, not making sure that you have theresources to be able to do this work in the time to distress, decompress and refocus number two thinkabove your pay grade. We all need to be strategic influences right now sink bigand think about how you need to connect with different parts of yourorganizational ecosystem, who you need... connect with to build thosestructures of influence in the last lay remember that soft skills are not softat all the softest of skills, as we've referred to them in the past. Soempathy, emotional intelligence, diversity, equity, an inclusion all ofthose different mindsets, growth, mindsets, those are actually thehardest skills to build and they're, also power skills. Those are the onesthat help our employees that empower our employees and that ultimatelyensure the success of our organizations or talent pipe limes in the long term.So we need to continue to invest in building those experiences for adults for all employees that willallow them to be able to do and build and grow and shift their mindsets, aswell as their skill sets. Yet what is harder to learn thanempathy or emotional intelligence? Definitely not a soft learningexperience for sure if you're not already born as an empath. I also lovethis idea of putting on your oxygen mask. First is something I think aboutso much, which is that people enablement leaders, because they areoften the people that are creating these programs to mitigate stress andincrease wellness and work life balance people. People may think that they areimmune to those same stressors, but it's quite conceivable that it may evenbe worse for people who feel hyper responsible for caring for others. Yeah.We had a program at skill, soft in one of our leader camps, and we talkedabout HR leaders as a new front line, and I put Alan d leaders in that bucketas well. We are called to be a new front line in our organizations. Lookat everything that we talked about today right. What do we talk about? Wetalked about skills, mindsets, health and wellness, mass exodus of women inthe workplace. These are stressful and high games topics, and so yes, we are anew front line and our organizations and we need to make sure in the sameway that we want to support our health care professionals and those true frontlines. We need to be able to support each other and to have that Lens whenbuilding and developing our teams and ourselves. That's just so interesting the newfront line idea and I think, there's nothing that encapsulates more the thechallenge in that also huge opportunity, I would say, make a massive differencein the lives of people who are ongoing unprecedented circumstances. So that'sthank you very much for helping me think about that that idea the newfront line at Lisa. If our listeners wanted to talk with you or learn moreabout you or learn more about skill taff, what's the best way, thank youtiffany. I would love that. I welcome learning from others and connectingwith others. The best way to reach me is via link on Elisa and Vincent and connect with me and learn moreabout me about the work that my team and I are doing it- skill soft andabout the work that kills off, looks to inspire in our global network ofcustomers and through partners as well, so yeah, an land leader who loves tolearn from others, go figure right. We all have that cord toourselves. If we, we are, that's right, I'm sure it's a job reck. So thank you listeners. I appreciateyour being here to listen to this fabulous conversation with thisfabulous leader. I'll ask you to subscribe to technically people you'lljust need to go to technically people com to subscribe, so we have awonderful week between next time...

...built in is a tech recruitment platform.That's in constant dialogue with leaders about the future of tech,Bilton's podcast. Technically people expands those conversations now fellowfuturist create and lead exceptional workplaces, environments that inspirein Demand Tech professionals to join your company and thrive to learn howbuilding can help your company attract besting class professionals, visitemployers top built Incom you've been listening to technically people, acommunity conversation about the future of work. If you want to hear morecutting edge ideas about creating human center workplace subscribe on yourfavorite, podcast player and you'll never miss an episode and if you'reover the moon about what you've heard we'd be honored. If you took the timeto give us a five star review so signing off until we meet again in thefuture, I.

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