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Why the Amazon Learning Strategy Makes Perfect Business Sense

August 29, 2019 | by Brent Colescott | 3 min read

The news that Amazon plans to spend over $700 million to offer training to 100,000 workers made global headlines. In today’s historically tight labor market, this talent strategy makes perfect sense. Not only will Amazon position itself as an employer who offers opportunities for professional development, but it will also build a workforce of highly skilled talent.

I regularly speak of the current “HR Perfect Storm,” and Amazon’s approach of combining learning and talent processes is akin to battening down the hatches. By interweaving these processes, organizations stand a better chance of weathering the storm. The good news is that developing an essential learning and talent strategy to combat this market storm is not difficult.

For starters, here are three easy steps that will help HR establish a basic framework for a learning and talent strategy.

1. Assess

It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everyone in an organization is on the same page. In my experience, this is rarely the case. To redress this disconnect, begin by examining the factors that influence the way employees view the company learning programs. It is critical to know where everyone stands to understand how best to move forward. Leverage a Survey Monkey questionnaire or similar tool to assess your team or stakeholders. Within the poll, make sure to have a narrow scope and use standard terms for clarity. I find that tenure and individual roles within the organization contribute to varying perspectives when assessed.

2. Align

The next step is the most important. Recently I had the pleasure of helping several leading organizations align their talent and learning strategy. What I learned from these experiences is that companies must take special care to define the parameters of common terms for any talent development plan. Start by reusing the survey/questionnaire but in a group setting where respondents can only submit one answer. Listen carefully as the dialogue during this time is gold and generates highly valuable insight to begin the process of alignment. Once the team can honestly assess their current state, calibration starts.

3. Execute

After the alignment exercise, it’s time to determine how best to proceed. Utilize the alignment discussions to identify one or two themes to focus your efforts. Look for areas that will establish a solid footing for your strategy, not necessarily the most visible or exciting. Don’t try to change everything all at once. Two areas that I see as the most fundamental and most significant indicators of success are governance and change management.

I also encourage organizations to leverage the Skillsoft Organizational Maturity Index. This framework offers a practical methodology for aligning learning, talent, and workforce management. It is an invaluable framework designed to assist the HR function pivot in the right direction to drive tangible business impact. By utilizing the maturity index, an organization can assess their progress and understand the milestones that demonstrate advancement to the next stage. Skillsoft provides a complimentary online assessment that diagnoses a company’s present stage and offers a playbook of recommendations to ascend to the next phase.

The key takeaway is that the intent for aligning your learning and talent strategies is to be deliberate in your outcomes. Organizations cannot afford to be “coincidental” in their learning and talent strategies.

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