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A Culture of Learning

Kelly Palmer spent the early years of her career deep in Silicon Valley’s trenches of product development and corporate strategy. But one day she had what she calls a “mid-life career crisis,” and pivoted her own journey into the world of corporate learning. She went on to run the Sun Microsystems learning group, and […]

The post A Culture of Learning appeared first on CEO.com.

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On the question every CEO needs to ask themselves:

“Do I actually know what skills my employees have?” I’ve found, for most CEOs, the answer is no. Most people have been hired for certain skills related to their core job function. I’m a great example. I was hired to be Chief Learning Officer at Degreed, and also at LinkedIn. But if you were to ask my boss, “Do you know what other skills Kelly has?” Well, they probably don’t. They may not know that I used to run acquisition integration for corporate strategy. Every employee has skills outside their core competency that could be important for other parts of the company at different moments of need.

If you think about it, the biggest problem we’re trying to solve is that people don’t stay at companies for their whole career anymore. The average is now four years, but with younger employees, it’s now two years. And why is that? Because people want to learn and grow and have new challenges in their work. And, usually, they’ll move on when they feel like they’re plateauing in terms of skills. That’s because companies aren’t good at creating internal career marketplaces for their talent.

Imagine if CEOs thought of their talent as assets; if they could not only help their people learn and grow, but help the company win in the long run. Companies like Microsoft are doing this now, focusing on a growth mindset. They’re growing people from within the company, understanding the skills they have and the skills they need. Satya Nadella, their CEO, embraces the growth mindset, saying, “I want people who are learn-it-alls, not know-it-alls.”

On the old thinking of “why should I train someone so they can leave and use those skills somewhere else?”:

We’ve done research on this. If you look at data from the World Economic Forum and other sources, you can find the patterns. Reid Hoffman wrote a book about this, called The Alliance, that I’d recommend. People are saying, “I don’t necessarily want to switch companies. I want to grow. If I get another opportunity within my own company, that would be fantastic.” There’s data showing people will stay at your company longer if they’re given new opportunities to learn within your environment.

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