Learning and development programs should be multifaceted and offer different delivery methods to best reach the unique needs of individual employees. Certainly, a formal training program and coursework for growth and career boosts are necessities. In addition to a learning management system, HR leaders can offer other programs to supplement coursework and make the L&D program more robust.
Job shadowing is a type of on-the-job training in which an employee follows a manager or executive to learn about the necessary qualifications, daily routine, and expectations of their role. CJBS, an accounting and consulting firm, recently earned a spot on the list of best places to work in Illinois, in part, for its job shadowing and mentoring programs.
In some Wall Street banks, there are rotation programs that have employees rotating through different divisions for this kind of exposure to different roles as a way to develop leadership. These kinds of opportunities also give employees a chance to test the waters of a function without a big commitment and in a safe way. Many newly minted MBAs pass through such programs. In fact, organizations can use these job shadowing opportunities as part of succession planning.
READ: Learning and Development for the Transformed Workplace
Many organizations offer mentorship. Two employees, usually one who is junior and one who is senior, check in with one another and develop a relationship designed to help them progress in their careers. They ask each other questions, provide recommendations, and consult about problems. Usually, the mentor is the more senior person and the mentee is the one benefitting most from the relationship. But people can always learn from one another.
In fact, some organizations are conducting reverse mentorship, which has the junior person offering feedback to a manager or supervisor. Others provide opportunities for group mentoring. Sometimes, this kind of relationship between an employee and someone else with a role to which he or she aspires happens organically.
However, some companies have formal mentorship programs. They pair people based on their roles. It can even be a big part of an onboarding program. Mastercard and Novartis are among those that have supported mentorship among their employees. These programs are sometimes part of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs because they can provide tools to those, from underrepresented groups, who want to grow into leadership positions.
Communities of Practice
Communities of practice are small groups of employees, who come together to train each other on specific skills, technology, or relevant areas of interest. They may create forums for discussing the topics at hand and create training documents and other materials for teaching. These groups can be highly motivated and productive because they usually form organically out of interest or need to learn something specific.
HR professionals can encourage and support communities of practice. The benefits are enormous. CoPs are a form of employee engagement, and they serve a practical purpose. People get educated, but the organization does not have to use up its resources. HR can link people with similar interests and provide them with opportunities to connect. They can also help managers carve out time for participation, so it is part of work and not an extra chore.
WATCH: Communities of Practice: An Engagement-First Learning Modality
Learning and development can happen in many ways. Job shadowing, mentorship, and CoPs are additions that can compliment a thorough L&D program. HR leaders can set the tone for a learning culture, so employees feel supported in these pursuits. Often, if the foundation and support for learning exists, the workers will take intiative and these kinds of programs will grow organically.
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