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LEARN Recap: Creating an Unstoppable Team Through Career Development

At our half-day virtual summit WorkRamp LEARN, learning and development (L&D) and human resource (HR) leaders shared wisdom, tips, and advice to empower your organization.

In her panel discussion: How to Make Your Team Unstoppable Through Career Development, Mikayla Posk, Learning & Development Program Manager at Notarize, shared lessons learned from a successful L&D pilot and reflected on the current state of learning and development in today’s work environment.

There’s no doubt that L&D is essential to today’s businesses. Research shows that 94 percent of workers would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them grow their careers. At the same time, 87 percent of Millennials say that professional development significantly impacts their engagement at work. 

You can’t afford to miss out on the benefits of L&D. Discover actionable tips you can apply at your organization.

What is the current state of learning and development?

In today’s challenging economic environment, leaders are looking carefully at every investment, including L&D. This means that L&D teams need to make clear that learning and development are essential, not a luxury.

Mikayla noted, “The human input into a company isn’t a black-and-white factor that is always predictable. There are people’s experiences at home that they bring to work. There are energy levels. All these things need to go right for people to perform well, and that’s the role of L&D: to ensure that a company’s human capital is performing as well as it can be.”

It’s also important to back up the impact of L&D using concrete data that shows how employee development leads to better business outcomes. This level of rigor can help justify and maintain your organization’s investment in L&D.

Read more: 7 Learning and Development Statistics You Should Know

What does it mean to help employees meet their career goals?

Do you know what your employees want in their careers? If you haven’t asked them, you probably don’t—and it’s easy to make mistakes when assuming.

Mikayla reminds us of the importance of active listening when understanding what your employees want and what the business needs. Not everyone wants to become a manager or climb the ladder. Some enjoy being individual contributors and won’t do well in a leadership position. That’s why listening to people, understanding what they care about, and educating them about available options is vital. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to career development.

Managers must also be directly involved in their teams’ career growth and development. They should be aware of each team member’s goals and follow up to see how things are going. However, team members need to be intrinsically motivated for this process to work.

Read more: 6 Effective Ways to Support Employee Career Growth

The success of the Coaching Collective

Mikayla shared how a pilot program can prove the value of L&D. She worked on the Coaching Collective, a group coaching program with executive mentors leading each group.

The company wasn’t ready to invest in L&D on a large scale without seeing clear results, which is why the pilot was proposed. In each pod, there was one mentor and four participants. 

Participants ranged from less-experienced employees, maybe this was their first or second job out of college, all the way up, to people who had been working for 10 to 15 years but were hungry for career development.

The results were incredible. “The feedback that we got, I’ve never had this degree of positive feedback for a program I’ve launched,” Mikayla says. “One hundred percent of participants said they got a lot of value from it. One hundred percent said they would recommend it to other folks at the company. I think two comments that came out of it most frequently are just that they appreciated networking, meeting people across the company, learning what other people are working on, learning what’s possible, and also not feeling alone.” 

Beyond that qualitative feedback, Mikayla’s team tracks program participants’ performance reviews and retention to show concrete evidence that L&D drives business results.

Read more: How to Create a Coaching Culture to Support Employee Development

3 takeaways from the Coaching Collective for your organization

What can you take away from the pilot program’s success if you want to do something similar in your organization? Mikayla offers three specific takeaways.

  1. Ask and listen. Find out what employees actually want. People wanted to work in groups in the pilot project, which is why that format was used.
  2. Strike a balance between structure and flexibility. For each session, there was some degree of direction, like, “Here’s a topic. Here are discussion questions.” But then the team left enough space for people to take it elsewhere if needed.
  3. Communicate clearly and effectively about the program and why it’s important, and get people excited. This strategy proved helpful for this program because it allowed people who didn’t participate to follow along and be excited about participating in the future.

So if you’re interested in trying an L&D pilot, start by determining your employees’ needs and what format they prefer. Then, create some structure but leave room for flexibility. Ensure that the program and its results are shared throughout the organization before, during, and after, so everyone can understand the impact.

Read more: 5 Tactics to Build a Talent Development Strategy That Works

Looking for more actionable tips and insights from People, Revenue, and Customer Success leaders? Don’t miss WorkRamp LEARN Spring, March 23rd at 9 am PT. Get your free ticket!


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Anna Spooner

WorkRamp Contributor

Anna Spooner is a digital strategist and marketer with over 11 years of experience. She writes content for various industries, including SaaS, medical and personal insurance, healthcare, education, marketing, and business. She enjoys the process of putting words around a company’s vision and is an expert at making complex ideas approachable and encouraging an audience to take action. 

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