AI is rapidly changing the face of work as we know it. No one wants to train employees on a technology that will be out-of-date or done better by AI in a matter of months. But it’s difficult to predict which tech skills will become most vital next. To stay ahead of the evolving skill requirements and tech advances, CTOs and tech leaders must implement a culture of continuous, on-the-job learning.
Investing with time
With my team of over 600 technical workers, I’ve implemented continuous learning in a variety of ways. The first and likely most important step, however, is to instill its importance in your team so they feel empowered to set aside time for learning and education opportunities. With deadlines, deliverables, high expectations, and the pressure of keeping up with competitors, it can feel like there’s no time for an engineer to attend training session, watch a webinar, or to go to a conference to learn from experts in the field. But investing time to prioritize learning will ultimately set you apart from competitors and set your workers up for success. Encourage employees to take time out of their days to learn — and also to teach their teammates.
Investing with resources
Aside from empowering workers to invest their time in learning, companies must tangibly invest in education and training opportunities. This is more than one-off programs and ad hoc courses. Learning isn’t a box to be checked – it’s a culture and should be a part of an employee’s daily life at work. By providing a comprehensive, strategic learning, education and training environment, a company is effectively “walking the walk,” demonstrating the value it places on learning across the organization. I recommend speaking with employees regularly – keeping a pulse on what skills they feel they need to learn and develop in order to thrive.
While many of our leaders and architects are great educators, we felt so strongly about creating a culture of learning that we added a fulltime Learning & Development role to our talent team dedicated to technology. This person’s full-time focus is to encourage and facilitate knowledge sharing and learning, both technical and non-technical. Our learning programs place most emphasis on new technologies (such as DevOps skills, cloud, AI) and on leadership and managerial development. We also promote soft skills training to all our employees so they can work more effectively with their teams. Wikis, brown bag lunches, development days, and all-hands meetings with technical presentations are important parts of our integrated program.
Don’t be afraid to invest in software, expert-led sessions, online courses, educational conferences, and other learning opportunities. It will pay dividends and will also help you retain employees, as they’ll know your company is investing in the future and them.
We must all be futurists
By investing time and money into developing a culture of continuous learning, your company will be ahead of the curve. Organically, these investments will result in a mindset among your workers that every individual at the organization – not just the CTO or CIO – needs to be a futurist. In today’s age, with such rapid change, every worker must be an active – not passive – participant and doggedly pursue new knowledge and skills.
And when your team has developed new skills, make sure you give them the opportunity to put those skills to work. You can do this by hosting internal hackathons, recognizing those who share their knowledge and expertise, and giving people opportunities to make technical presentations. Only by emphasizing the importance and power of learning can you expect your technical workforce to thrive as AI continues to reshape the industry.
Mark Goldin is the Chief Technology Officer for Cornerstone OnDemand, a cloud-based learning and human capital management software company.