Blog Post

Embracing uncertainty: lessons from Deutsche Post DHL Group

Cornerstone Editors

These past months have been uncertain and chaotic, to say the least. We can learn a lot from each other, therefore we wanted to share the incredible, resilient, and exciting success story from Deutsche Post DHL Group on their learning strategy during the pandemic. Sharing experiences will make us wiser, more prepared for the future and it will help us realize we are not alone! Many HR departments had to prove to the business, that they were ready to support their workforce in what has been one of the biggest crises in a decade. Meredith Taghi, VP Group Learning Talent and Platforms at Deutsche Post DHL Group shared her thoughts in a panel discussion we held recently together with Fosway some of the lessons learnt from the past year.

Hasty climbers have sudden falls.

Or so they say! The first reaction I experienced to the COVID-19 crisis was “Oh no!”. With 570,000 employees in over 220 countries, it’s difficult to imagine the magnitude of the task Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) had ahead. The first question they had to solve was: how do we inform and train our frontline? How can we give all our employees access to critical training to support them in the time of COVID? At DPDHL they already had been heavily investing in digitalization, but as Meredith Taghi shared with us, from one day to the next it become one of the top HR priorities. In order to be able to function as a business information and learning platforms had to be available and working for everyone.

“The temptation of doing the transition fast versus the importance of doing it well from a user experience point of view, needs to be very well balanced, otherwise, we disengage everyone”, Meredith Taghi, VP Group Learning Talent and Platforms at Deutsche Post DHL Group

At Deutsche Post DHL Group, they were already in the journey and investing resources in order to get the learner and employee experience right. Having had that early pre-work done, enabled them to respond quickly. “When we offer training, we need to ensure it is easy to access, user friendly and relevant.”

Some months later, we observe that many organisations have been able to make the switch to digital learning. We have particularly leveraged the digital classroom format. But with the constant zoom calls, meetings and online classes, something has happened: we are tired. We call this digital learning fatigue, as Taghi, VP of Learning, shared, we need to ensure we are giving a good learning experience. There is an opportunity here to rethink how we teach virtually and how we can make it more human, more interactive, and more engaging. Augmented reality? Maybe our future could head that way.

Changes are here to stay.

Everybody had to make the switch as we did. Get the learning platforms ready, with content and give all their employees access. Even though we hope to be able to get back to normal soon, gather with colleagues and be back in the office, we expect many of the organisations that have implemented a digital learning strategy to maintain that trend in the future. Fosway shared with us that 94% of surveyed L&D professional had changed their strategy around learning due to COVID. Also, a big part of the budget was allocated to get digital learning content. In Cornerstone we saw a tremendous spike in the usage of our content, which made the Content Anytime offering extremely exciting for our clients.

Put your money where your mouth is: the currency of skills

We are in a very exciting time when it comes to innovation, artificial intelligence, and HR. We finally have a common data point, that enable us to target training, recommend learning and career paths to our users. All of that, without significant manual intervention. The algorithm does the analysis and statistics to make recommendations. At DPDHL they believe strongly in the currency of skills and how learning and a strong strategy around skills ontology is the answer to better performance, longer employment, more engagement, resulting in stronger business growth. To increase people employability enables us to help people move horizontally in the business and make talent mobility part of our business values.

What makes it all so unique is that we are bringing this experience into the flow of work! Some of the frontline workers as Meredith was explaining, are very hard to reach, the power of the tool is that we can add a learning icon into the employee portal experience and suggest relevant content that will enable our people to develop while they work. The personalisation and tailoring is extremely important, as we said we want to engage the users and trigger people to come back for more learning.

This skill-based approach enables the HR department to identify which skills could be required in the future, if we do not have those skills within our workforce, it gives us the opportunity to prepare for that new trend. How can we get that skill? Whom in the team will need to develop it? For that to be a reality we first need good content, opportunities to use that skill on the job and gig projects or cross functional collaborations.

The shoemaker's son always goes barefoot.

How do we find time to learn? Those that provide learning to the rest of the business need to learn too! As Meredith Taghi flagged “L&D professionals need to quickly upskill and reskill themselves”. They need to try different formats, be innovative, use analytics and data to find out what is working and what is not working so well. In fact, making time to learn is something everyone in the HR department needs to be better at, in particular recruiters as Teddy Dimitrova shared with us in a recent article.

Surround yourself by the best.

To partner with the right team is key to have success, especially in such an innovative context like the one from DHL. Large data bases, very complex workforce structures and a very ambitious project. Meredith Taghi’s, VP Group Learning Talent and Platforms, vision of the future invites us to dream of a workplace in which we shift from roles to skills, from careers to projects and from biased decisions to anonymized personas – all powered by algorithms that study the data and make relevant, fair and new suggestions to improve the experience of our employees.

Do not miss out the blog “ Three ways to scale skills development in your organsations” in which we highlight again the inspiring story from DPDHL, as well as the full panel discussing in video format here.

Key Take-aways

  1. The employee experience needs to be part of your digital learning strategy.
  2. Employees will expect remote employment and digital learning from now on.
  3. A clear skills ontology will enable us to support career development utilising matching and recommendation AI algorithms.
  4. L&D needs to find time to up, re and new skill themselves.

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

There’s a lot of coordination that goes into a company’s learning and development programming, from identifying skills gaps and creating engaging content to scaling initiatives company-wide. And because there’s so much complex planning involved, organizations can sometimes get caught up in the details, and overlook how L&D fits into broader organizational goals. A recent survey—titled "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change"—from Cornerstone People Research Lab (CPRL) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) found that only 55% of organizations believe their L&D programs are well-aligned with their company’s overarching strategy. But CPRL and HCI’s survey reveals two logical ways to overcome this challenge. First, there’s a need for L&D executives to participate in strategic conversations around organizational goals to ensure that L&D planning aligns with broader business plans. And second, it’s important to share responsibility for learning effectiveness. If facilitating continuous learning is a part of everyone’s role, it becomes easier to integrate it organization-wide. Promote Cross-Departmental Collaboration and Responsibility To better align L&D efforts with overarching business goals, learning executives have to participate in strategic conversations about organizational direction. For instance, when business leaders gather to discuss goals and KPIs for the coming year or quarter, HR and L&D leaders should be involved in those conversations. And the opposite is also true: Business leaders need to help direct the learning outcomes framed against those goals. According to the "Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey from CPRL and HCI, only about half (51%) of learning leaders report being involved in these discussions. During these business planning discussions, it’s important to establish accountability, especially among people managers. CPRL and HCI found 67% of people managers report being involved in the creation of content, but only 47% are involved in the accountability for the results. By holding more people accountable to the success of L&D programs, it can be easier for a company to spot pitfalls or opportunities for improvement. It creates shared goals for measuring effectiveness, and establishes a process for making changes. For example, by getting people managers involved in L&D initiatives, L&D leaders can work with them to get a better understanding of a specific team’s skill gaps or what reskilling or new skilling solutions will work best for them. All leaders in an organization, in fact, should be eager to participate and own their team’s newskilling, reskilling or upskilling efforts. Ask a people manager in the IT department to reiterate the importance of learning to their team, and track the amount of time their employees spend on learning content. This approach will not only create a shared commitment to continuous learning, but can also help leaders outside of L&D and HR get a better idea of what content or formats work best for their teams and recommend adjustments accordingly. Continuous Learning Is Everyone’s Responsibility Aligning overarching business plans and strategy with learning and development efforts can improve each’s efficacy. The more cross-departmental collaboration that exists, the more information that HR and L&D leaders have about their workforce and its needs, strengths and weaknesses. And with more accountability, all stakeholders in an organization can become more involved in ensuring the successful partnership between L&D and a company’s overall strategy. To learn more about the findings from Cornerstone’s "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey and its recommendations for using cross-departmental collaboration and accountability to help with L&D efforts, click here to download and read the full report.

Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

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Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

When we think of diversity in the workforce, we typically think of it along the lines of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. But focusing only on those four is its own sort of constraint. To truly create a successful and diverse workplace, you need to ensure you're also embracing neurodiversity too. Understanding neurodiversity In the late 1990s, a single mother in Australia named Judy Singer began studying Disability Studies at University of Technology Sydney. Her daughter had recently been diagnosed with what was then known as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” a form of autism spectrum disorder. As she read more and more about autism as part of her studies, Singer also suspected that her mother, and she herself, may have had some form of autism spectrum disorder. Singer describes crying as she realized that her mother, with whom she'd had a tumultuous relationship throughout her childhood, wasn’t purposefully cold or neurotic as she had thought. She just had a different kind of mind. In her honors thesis, Singer coined the term “neurodiversity.” For Singer, people with neurological differences like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or dyslexia were a social class of their own and should be treated as such. If we are going to embrace diversity of race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc., then we must embrace a diversity of the mind. The following video is an excerpt from the "Neurodiversity" Grovo program, which is available in the Cornerstone Content Anytime Professional Skills subscription. Neurodiversity in today's workplace Recently, neurodiversity has become a trendy term in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging spaces. And many organizations are working to hire more neurodivergent people, as well as give them opportunities to thrive at work. That’s why, at Cornerstone, we recently produced a series of lessons on neurodiversity. If your organization hasn’t prioritized neurodiverse inclusion yet, here are some reasons why it both supports your people and organization. 1) Neurodivergent people are underemployed Neurodivergent people, especially people with autism, are widely under-employed, regardless of their competence. In the United States, 85% of college graduates with autism are unemployed. According to a 2006 study, individuals with ADHD have higher rates of unemployment than individuals without. However, there is no evidence that neurodivergent people are less competent or less intelligent than neurotypical people. Organizations are missing out on talented people. 2) Neurodivergent people are more common than you may think Neurodiversity manifests in many different ways. It can encompass autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette syndrome, and many other conditions. And as scientists have learned more about what makes someone neurodivergent, they're identifying more and more people. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 160 children have some form of autism spectrum disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in every 162 children have Tourette Syndrome, and roughly 8 percent of children under 18 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And that's just children. How many adults, like Judy Singer's mother, have struggled their whole lives without a diagnosis? People who are neurodivergent are everywhere. Diverse organizations are stronger Diverse organizations and teams not only have better financial returns than less-diverse ones, but they also perform better. Having the different perspectives presented by people who are neurodivergent can help your team solve more difficult problems. Different perspectives and different ways of thinking lead to creativity and innovation.

Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

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Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

Many organizations face a leadership gap and cannot find the talent needed to grow. We could blame the retiring baby boomer phenomenon, the free agent nation, or the lack of investment made in developing leaders. But since blame is a lazy man’s wage, I will not entertain that debate because there are too many options out there for developing leaders. There are many leadership development programs in the market. In minutes, with a simple Internet search or over coffee with your head of human resources, you can discover myriad high-quality leadership development programs that you could use in your organization to develop leaders. The problem is not finding a good program, but in choosing one. Answer the Right Questions So how does one choose? The problem we face in evaluating leadership development programs is that we get caught up in evaluating the content rather than asking a simple question, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Each organization is unique in how it answers this question. And that is where the secret lies. If an organization can select a program that matches the answer to the question above, the selected program will likely be the right one. After all, each leadership development program is very good in some way. It is not so important which one you select. It is important that you use the one you select. In other words, the key is to not let it become another un-opened binder on the bookshelves of your management team. Be An Effective Leader Let me give you an example: If an organization’s answer to the question above is, "We want our leaders to be proactive and focused on the things that drive results," your choices are narrowed down to only a few programs that would deliver on that answer. And if I had to pick one program that would deliver on that answer, without hesitation, I would choose, "The Effective Executive" by Peter F. Drucker. It is a classic, and all five of the behaviors of effective executives taught in the book remain vital skills that any leader should practice if he or she wants to be effective in his or her organization. In the book, Drucker teaches that effective executives: Know where their time goes Focus on contribution and results Build on strengths Concentrate on first things first Make effective decisions This is not a book review or a plug for "The Effective Executive," though I do believe if you had to choose one set of skills to teach your leadership, it would be the five from Drucker’s book. This is a challenge for every organization to simplify the selection of leadership development programs, and ask, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Answering this question clearly will help you choose the right program. After all, many programs are excellent. The secret to success is not in which program you choose, but that you get people to apply the program you choose. Photo: Can Stock

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