As our 2021 content development roadmap comes into focus, the work we’ve completed in the background has highlighted some consistent themes that are important for comms leaders as they consider how to invest learning and development budgets. These themes are laid out below, along with some quick tips and advice.
- What matters to leaders and what matters to their teams are very different
Team members want to be able to access learning and development opportunities that will advance their careers. In contrast, career development is a low driver for comms leaders when they’re thinking about development options and priorities (they’re more focused on how to talk about their function’s value to the wider organisation and other stakeholders). This divergence may not be that surprising, but it’s an interesting point given the blind spot it creates for leaders and the associated risk of attrition within their teams should the learning and development they’re offered not speak to their priorities and expectations. Leaders would do well to be clear about laying out ‘what’s in it for them’ when scoping and positioning learning for their teams.
- There are major benefits to learning together as a team…but not all teams are as one.
Efficiency gains; enhanced knowledge sharing; the ability to triage incoming work more effectively; greater team cohesion; the list goes on. Yet learning together as a team is often deprioritised in favour of meeting individual objectives and the need for PDPs. What can leaders do to change this?
- Make it safe for the team to learn at work.
- Make sure it’s ok for them to make changes and take risks, and celebrate any wins that come from them.
- Open up space for team learning, lead by example, and incorporate progress related to team learning into your performance review process.
Recognising distinct groups within the overall team can lead to even more powerful outcomes:
- A dedicated high-potential comms programme incentivises and rewards over-performance and eases succession planning.
- A focused onboarding programme for new comms starters (whether they’re new to comms, new to company, or both) sets individuals up for success and reduces the load on existing team members.
- Actively identifying and working more closely with siloed communicators in decentralised OpCos reduces duplication, improves alignment and encourages consistency.
- Learning must be dynamic, timely and inspirational
No single learning intervention is universally helpful. Decisions around format can be driven my many things – the complexity of a challenge, the level of urgency, instructional design principles – but the key take-away here is that having a range of different learning formats available (virtual courses, group coaching, 1-2-1 coaching, live team sessions, online resources, tools and templates) and using them in the right way at the right time is key to achieving the best outcomes.
Inspiration is also an important component that can feel like a luxury, but if it improves performance or is in service to a team or organisational outcome is just as valuable as more traditional interventions. Hearing stories from others that enable you to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’, using a template or quick start guide to kickstart thinking a new project, or getting a fresh, objective take on a situation you’re dealing with can all have an impact.
Kademy develops integrated learning opportunities for comms leaders and their teams that inspire strategic thinking, develop critical comms skills and lead to long-lasting positive results. If you want to talk about how Kademy could support you, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)207 157 9787.