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Managing talent is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge: an endless task that sometimes leaves you out in the cold.  As online recruiting and professional networking make talent more visible and poachable, it’s an ongoing challenge to fully engage and keep hold of our best people – especially those with leadership skills. Plus, intellectual capital is literally walking out the door as experienced staff reach retirement, but it’s hard to provide consistent learning and development for their successors when line managers still operate according to departmental silos.

I was interested to see how other companies tackle these issues, so I joined a 20 Minute Master Class webinar the other day, which promised to reveal the secrets of top performers in a European benchmarking study.  It was somewhat reassuring to note that while 9 out of 10 companies shared similar aspirations for improving talent management, employee engagement, learning application and productivity, only 2 out of 10 were actually doing so. In fact, high achievers were 7 times more likely to report improvement in these areas than their peers in the bottom quartile.

One consistent theme emerged: organisations that have invested a greater proportion of their L&D budget in technology (learning management systems, e-content, mobile devices and apps, video and social collaboration) are advancing faster than those that haven’t.

Of course, technology itself is not a panacea – it’s how it’s implemented and used to meet business objectives that counts. The webinar provided some useful advice on benchmarking our approach and the importance of measuring business outputs when evaluating the effectiveness of learning innovations.  You’d be surprised by how many companies have no idea how much or indeed whether these tools and technologies benefit their bottom line.

Anyway, I won’t give away too many spoilers – you can download the benchmarking report or watch the webinar on demand.  Suffice to say, I’m having a bit of a rethink on how we might be a bit more technically-minded when it comes to L&D. Social and mobile aren’t so much tools as ways of working, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to overcome some of my misplaced objections around productivity, just because my kids are permanently glued to their glowing screens. If our organisation needs to be more adaptable to change, I’d best lead by example. 

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