Chief Learning Officers: Setting the Stage for Future Growth

Corporations are undergoing a very different set of challenges today than they did 20 years ago and are having to respond in new and exceptional ways to remain competitive. Being armed with the best-of-the-best in terms of talent will ultimately propel these companies into a growth spurt, but they need to act fast as ManPowerGroup’s 2016/2017 Talent Shortage Survey reported 40% of global employers are experiencing a shortage of talent. To circumvent these challenges, some companies are actually embracing change at the highest level and welcoming a new C-suite member into their faction—the Chief Learning Officer (CLO). Executives at these organizations need someone to own the internal transformation process and align the organization for future growth and talent retention, and they are relying on their CLOs to manage these conversions.

The Sudden Need for Chief Learning Officers

In 2015, the Boston Consulting Group reported how “speed enables companies to catch consumer trends as they emerge, leaves competitors flat-footed, and even drives costs down and quality up.” Today’s businesses are moving faster than ever to be the first one to market. This aggressive pace leaves little to no time for employees to keep up with mandated training or to receive additional education that will help them expand their skill set.

Now, let’s factor in numerous reports that claim our workforce will be powered by more than 50% Millennials in 2020. Millennials are the most well educated and tech savvy generation. They are passionate about their work and continuously strive to learn more and constantly improve. This makes training programs with feedback a significant component of employee retention, and because they are Millennials, on-demand learning through new technologies is even more important. With that said, it’s important for organizations to provide learning opportunities in ways that resonate with each individual employee.

The bottom line is this new role of CLO is a necessary evolution in our current economic state. Given the level at which this role resides and their demonstrated leadership, the person filling this position will (and should) have the authority and panache to take ownership and effect big change.

Responsibilities of Human Resources versus a Chief Learning Officer

Human Resources (HR) is responsible for a variety of internal initiatives including benefits’ packages, incentives, recruiting, and payroll, in addition to corporate training programs typically reside within HR. While responsibility for an organization’s training programs often defaults to a training director or head of learning & development, this role can sometimes be confused with that of a CLO. The daily tasks of a training director, however, tend to focus on ensuring employees get all the training they need to stay compliant and do their jobs. HR is typically the party responsible for an organization’s Learning Management Software. They coordinate access to training for employees and track effectiveness for the executives. While these components are important to an overall corporate training program, a CLO analyzes a much broader picture. describes the CLO as an “expansive and capacious role:

  • Stays attentive to, empowers, and drives change.
  • Ensures that employees acclimatize in the direction of meeting the evolving requirements of the organization.
  • Shapes employee expertise, as well as their organization’s principles.
  • Constantly sharpens competency models, and upgrades skills valuations and skills development strategies.”

In an article for LinkedIn’s Pulse, the CEO of eLearning Mind, Andrew Fayad, further describes CLOs as forward-thinking, adaptive, and collaborative. They develop strategies to foster cultures that are conducive to company goals and align with training needs and available technologies. CLOs advocate employee engagement to create better solutions for entire organizations.

Our team at Executives Unlimited has witnessed the growth and impact of the Chief Learning Officer position. We also believe learning is the heartbeat of an organization, which is why we advocate for adopting the position of CLO. Please call us at (866) 957-4466 or contact us online if your organizational leaders are interested in transforming the way you retain talent.

Does your organization employ a Chief Learning Officer? If so, what changes have you experienced in your organization’s training and culture?

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