I was struck by this headline from Chief Learning Officer: "Adults are Anxious about Technology" (October 31, 2016). CLO associate editor Bravetta Hassell digs into some recent findings from a study by Pearson that examines how U.S. adults are feeling about their job security and how they are feeling about their overall ability to do their jobs these days. As Hassell writes, "Adults no longer feel that outsourcing or being replaced by younger workers is the greatest threat to their jobs. But their ability to keep pace with rapid changes in technology is making them especially nervous."
The study authors conclude that people need more access to higher education to ensure they stay relevant in their skills. While that may be correct to some extent, I think the solution is a bit more nuanced than that. Technology, and the skills required to master said technology, change at such a rapid pace, people would never leave school if that were our only way to prepare for these challenges. Instead, I think organizations need to invest in mentoring so that employees can have ongoing support as they build the required skills needed to do their jobs.
We've seen this at River over the years, where organizations use mentoring to support training. The results have been positive, allowing employees to pursue new skills that they can apply on the job, while they also connect with colleagues who are involved in similar situations and who are also attempting to apply the same newfound skills in the context of their own jobs.
By using mentoring in conjunction with training programs, organizations can pull together cohorts for collaboration before, during, and after a training event so that they can connect with people as they put theories into practice. They can share ideas and opinions, talk about what they've tried that was successful (and what wasn't), use their mentoring cohorts as sounding boards for moving forward with their skills, ask for advice from their group of peers and advisors, and more.
In his book Modern Mentoring, Randy Emelo talks about how technology firm EMC used River mentoring software before, during, and after their two-week Support New Hire Training course "to build a learning environment in which newly hired technical support engineers could learn from one another, reference materials from the training course while of the job, and solve customer problems quickly and efficiently" (p. 74).
As Emelo shares in his book, the results achieved by the group that used mentoring to support training were better than the results recorded for the group that just used training alone.
Training efforts can be greatly enhanced by supporting them with mentoring. Don't let your employees' anxiety over rapid technology changes halt them in their tracks. Give them mentoring and training together so that they can remain effective participants in the workforce…ones who can adapt to any change that comes their way.
Start planning how you can use mentoring with our Mentoring Roadmap eBook. Download your copy today.