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Silo’d Learning is Limiting Workplace Learning Potential

For years, possibly decades, we have helped people develop expertise around specific jobs, or how to do their current job better. We’ve kept them learning “up” a topical trajectory, much like a silo. What was often neglected was the need to expand knowledge, skills, and abilities overall. What we’ve got now are millions of Americans who are very skilled in a narrow area of expertise, but not well prepared for upper management or executive positions because they lack general business intelligence. While it might seem obvious to only include salespeople in sales-training, what would be the detriment of including the administrative group that supports the salespeople, or the customer service representatives who support the customer after the sale, or the field service representatives who actually see the customer more frequently than anyone else, or manufacturing who will learn how their product works in the “real world?” Wouldn’t each of them learn more about how to do their job well, and learn more about the business as a whole, by participating in a developmental topic that is ancillary to their current work?

Estimates are that by 2030, Baby Boomers will be completely out of the workforce. This presents a call to action and an opportunity, because the generation with the most breadth and depth of work experience will be leaving the workforce. We – as L+D departments and professionals – need to quickly rectify the silos of specialists we’ve created by broadening the role-specific training of the past in order to address the workforce needs of the future. Our challenge is to develop a new generation of company leaders capable of making well-rounded and well-informed decisions based on their experiences in a multitude of business areas.

The focus on job-specific training is a thing of the past. Organizations must focus on developing well-rounded individuals who can take the organization into the future. The future success of our companies depends on the actions we take today to develop our future workforce.