- To create effective learning programs L&D practitioners cannot remain siloed within a particular department. Rather, they need to be entrenched in the company’s larger strategy.
- Formal training only makes up about 10% of workplace development, yet that’s where organizations place much of their emphasis.
- Mindsets around workplace training need to shift if new methods are going to be effective.
Introducing Spring T.
“I’ve never stepped into a role to do the same thing as the person before me.”
Spring T. is the VP and head of learning & development at Prudential Financial. Over her career, she’s worked in a wide variety of positions spanning sectors.
Into the fryer
“I love to be out of the frying pan and into the fryer.”
Spring’s career has been guided by going places where things are being built and reimagined. Focusing on creation every step of the way, she tells us she’d rather be “a part of the building than the driving of the bus.” As she likes to joke, she “can’t keep down a job.” Spring’s creator mindset keeps her on the front lines of innovation regardless of her role.
Understanding the broader strategy
“If we strip the lingo and the language aside the thing we have to ask ourselves is ‘can the people do things we need them to do?’”
Spring does not start building learning programs at the granular level. Instead, Spring and her team take a perspective of business first when it comes to learning and development. She starts by understanding the broader company vision and strategy, how that strategy is being executed, and how it is supported. From that, Spring identifies gaps that can be filled with learning programs.
What about the other 90%?
“When we say employees own their careers we have to give them the tools and information and data to make smart decisions.”
Formal learnings and training account for only about 10% of learning development that takes place within an organization. So where is the other 90%? The rest comes from experiential learning on the job and interactions with others.
By co-developing the Prudential talent marketplace, Spring has helped accelerate the other 90% of learning at Prudential. The talent marketplace gives them the resources to actually control their careers and make smart decisions.
To address the interactions that facilitate learning, Prudential offers access to career partners. These partners help others think through what a career at prudential means. To address experience, the marketplace offers employees “gigs”. This means employees can take a stretch assignment in addition to their current job that applies a recent class or training they took so that they can bridge the gap between learning and proficiency.
Tackling mindset challenges
“You can put tools right in front of someone but if they’re not ready to activate those tools then they’re not gonna use it.”
Both managers and individuals have to be ready to make changes and take risks.
Spring offered examples of how mindset may impact learning outcomes. One prominent example was how managers balance hiring within and looking for experienced candidates externally.
Spring suggests that managers should question whether they really need people with many years of experience in a particular role to be effective. She notes that external hires take up to 3 years to develop the effectiveness of an internal hire. So an internal hire less experienced in a particular task may ultimately be preferable to an external one.
Dreaming about the future of the talent marketplace
“Before any code was written, we sat down and said ‘what do we imagine this could be like?’”
During our talk, Spring was not afraid to dream big about the future of L&D. She discussed how learning will one day be much closer to what it’s like to scroll Instagram. This means AI utilizing loads of data will be able to predict and present new lessons and learning paths for employees as needed.
From here, Spring speculated on the big changes these are likely to cause to traditional roles. Data and AI will allow for more non-traditional roles that will eschew the models of our current org charts. She envisions a world of work with a whole new level of flexibility for everyone.