The responsibilities corporate learning is expected to take on and the skill areas it must affect appear to grow daily, along with the CLO’s role. Talent management — specifically, talent sustainability, the ability to retain and leverage existing talent pools within the workforce — was once the provenance of the HR executive. Now, as job roles and responsibilities converge for overall organizational improvement, learning and development for talent has stepped into the limelight, ensuring the CLO continues to play an active role.
“The concept of talent management has been around for a while,” said Roland Smith, Ph.D., senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership. “A lot of people talk about talent pipeline management and over the least five, 10 years, there’s been a little more impetus on making sure that there are succession plans in place. A lot of that was driven by the supply and demand of high performers, but when you want to talk about the chief learning officer’s role, that’s pretty interesting.”
Smith also said this role has been evolving over the last 10 years. Further, one of the key skills inherent to it is the ability to find mechanisms and strategies for senior officers to learn how to not only coach and mentor high performers more effectively but how to identify those employees who could be high performers.
“That’s where we get the issue of sustainability,” Smith said. “We’ve discovered some things, but it’s kind of an emerging and evolving space. We’re trying to look and figure out a little more aggressively what the tactical and practical applications are. We know from research — not ours but a lot of others — that the key role of senior officers, why they’re hired, has always been for their ability to achieve results and make quick decisions. What’s implied in that is the ability to make effective decisions, use their ability to take visions and missions and execute, or make them a reality.”
Future hiring practices for senior-level executive jobs are about orchestrating talent management and identifying people early both inside and outside the organization, Smith said. The CLO must then develop these executives and provide them with experiences to give the organization more depth and more wiggle room to leverage the existing talent pool.
Obviously, the chief learning officer’s role is to facilitate learning within organizations, but Smith said it role is also to help senior executives understand how and why they also should become learning facilitators.
“Given the global complexity of business these days, executives need to lead or create a culture of innovation,” Smith said. “Senior-level executives need to more effectively teach their leaders how to lead and manage change. Pull those things together with the things that (CLOs) need to do to transform their organizations in the future, and we can start to look at what organizations are doing to more effectively address each one of those component areas.
“A lot of organizations have done a decent job of looking at entry-level competencies, but that breaks down as we get to most senior-level positions — it’s still not as scientific as it could in identifying who are the best performers and what those performers need.”
The Center for Creative Leadership is looking for participants for a research project titled “Orchestrating Talent Sustainability Initiative.” The research will more clearly define C-level Executives role(s), both strategically and tactically, in creating and maintaining talent sustainability.
“In addition to defining organizational best practices in this area and defining the roles of senior executives, we would like to understand more fully the Chief Learning Officers role in impacting talent sustainability, adding value and influencing positive outcomes on leaders and organizations. We are looking for input from people responsible for organization learning (CLOs) to give us there input and share best practices as we move forward with the first phase of this project,” Smith said.
Please contact Roland B. Smith, Ph.D at the Center for creative leadership directly at SmithRO@leaders.ccl.org with any input about what the role of learning officers should be (relative to talent management), questions or an organizations desire to participate in the project.
- Owns succession program and outcomes
- Defines/approves program goals and policies
- Ensures link between strategy and succession processes
- Has a corporate/company-wide perspective
- Reviews high potentials regularly
- Ensures accountability for follow-up
- Coaches/mentors selected candidates
Human Resource Roles
- Develops and implements processes
- Ensures HR functions are coordinated to
support succession effort
- Advocates for “right decisions”
- Must not take ownership of succession
- Must take ownership of support processes
Learning and Development Roles (to be defined)
Line Management Roles
- Provides input: high potential I.D. and
talent review process
- Oversees development assignments
- Accountable for unit performance
- Must not hide talent
- Should have performance management skills