Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, every industry has experienced a major disruption. As a result, leaders have probably leaned on their top-performing employees more than ever. While this makes sense, it also makes them your busiest team members with the least spare time for their development.
Plus, it’s often your lowest performers who consume most of your time while your top talent is busy carrying the team. But like everyone else, they need advice, resources and support to learn and grow and to propel their career — and the company, too.
Learning and development (L&D) processes are essential for everyone. But throwing only traditional educational pathways at your best workers is likely to generate an underwhelming response. That’s because they simply can’t afford to set aside large chunks of time necessary for lengthy self-directed courses or in-person instructor-led training (ILT), nor do they have the patience for complicated or unengaging online platforms with poor user experience (UX).
Even if they can block off a few hours, the learning often happens out of context, which is far less valuable. Remember, these are time-poor employees. Instead of spending hours or days learning about agile management, it’s more effective if they can access only what they need to accomplish the task at hand — at the point of need. When learning happens like this (i.e., concurrently, and contextually, in the flow of work), it’s also more impactful.
Of course, you might argue that the people you’ve been rapidly promoting up the corporate ladder can just find the information they need on Google. Why worry about offering these time-crunched team members microlearning opportunities? Take out your phone. Type “how to be a better manager” into the engine. You get 2.29 billion results in less than one second. The challenge with this method is that it lacks quality control or any guarantee you’ll get sound, objective, expert information that will make a difference.
To ensure your learning approach meets and serves the needs of all employees, especially your top performers, you need to get creative. Here are three learning strategies to nurture your high-potential employees:
1. Provide User-centric Learning Tools
Take a user-centric approach when creating any kind of corporate learning management system (LMS). In other words, think of your people first. What do they need to succeed? How can you make learning seamless?
For instance, prioritize learning tools that work on any device. Today’s employees are always mobile, and work happens from anywhere. If they’re offered content that’s easily consumed on any device, then learning can also happen from anywhere — like at the gym or during their daily commute.
Plus, in a smartphone-obsessed world — where more time than ever is spent using various applications — user experience expectations are higher than ever. If you provide platforms that are clunky, unenjoyable and unengaging, then they probably won’t be used.
2. Help Employees Grow in Every Way
It’s a good idea to have your top performers make discoveries about leadership, artificial intelligence (AI) and other critical topics. But it’s not just business topics that affect how well they do their jobs. Organizations often overlook more human topics, such as mindfulness, relationships or even parenting, but succeeding in these areas is essential to fulfilling an employee’s potential.
Consider a data analysis professional who is experiencing challenges with their teenager. As a parent, they may be thinking about their family rather than solely focusing on preparing an important spreadsheet for an upcoming board meeting. If they can access parenting advice — and data analysis knowledge — they have a way to help solve both problems.
Bottom line: People aren’t robots or resources to be used for financial gain. Instead, think of them as multidimensional humans who should be developed holistically.
3. Make Resources Accessible
Remember being in school and learning something you knew you wouldn’t use for months or years? It could be frustrating. Today’s workers may feel the same if what they are learning isn’t immediately relevant.
As you build your company’s continuous learning materials, make sure the subjects are thoughtfully curated, engaging and applicable. Just as important, make sure employees have quick and easy access to them. That way, they are more likely to use and apply them.
Employees at all levels are working hard and juggling multiple priorities. Show them that you respect their time and commitment by providing relevant, timely and concise training solutions that won’t force them to be overworked.