Here is an interesting anecdote that you won’t believe led to the coining of the term for the position- Chief Learning Officer (CLO). In one of USC interviews it was decided to hire someone to supervise General Electric’s (GE) learning and development department. The person who was hiring was Jack Welch and he decided to name this new position as Chief Education Officer. Steve Kerr was the person selected for this position. He joked with Welch that he would be another CEO for the company (Abbreviation for Chief Executive Officer). Welch was left amused and he responded by saying there is only one CEO for the company and he could be CLO. Entered then in the year 1990- CLO- the very first in the world. 26 years down the line, we are still following the practice.
Yes, it is a ticket to C-suite (Chief suite) of a company. But it doesn’t comes easy. The position carries with it an expanded set of skills like technology, business analytics, performance consulting, learning theory, consulting and scientific inquiry. Most noted CLO of all times are:-
This brings us to the very obvious question what does it take to be world class CLO. We unearth some secrets regarding the same and conclude that he should be chief of these traits:-
These days just giving training to employees is out of the picture. High-Impact Learning Organizations (HILO), as they are called, are focusing on skill- based instructions for strong foundation aligning with the business model of the company or organization. Training with the help of gaming, simulation and formal methods skilling the workforce in selling and supporting customers.
A CLO should be adept at teaching and leadership skills. He should be able to guide employess of the company in business acumen as it is most sought after skill by companies these days. With increasing business dealings with regional and line leaders, it is all the more necessary CLOs are great at communication skills and business etiquettes.
The CLOs have to work like catalyst bringing about a change in the environment and working culture of a company. He should be able to drive change as and when required. They are responsible for new wave of innovation, modernization, comprehensive and continuous improvement and performance.
All employees do not have the same skill or command over different verticals demanded by the companies. The CLO has to be intuitive and be able to differentiate which employee set would be most eligible for which set of skills by working in close proximity of recruitment team, employee management team and performance analysis team.
Accurately assessing capabilities and competencies is another hat the CLO must wear. And for all the right reasons, too. Learning and Development needs, performance orientation and work culture are critical ingredients for success in today’s rapidly changing business environment.
People make all the difference to a business, and learning and development make all the difference between a rockstar performer and the average Joe. And all these differences, of course, are made possible by the Chief Learning Officer, one of the most rapidly changing people management verticals in the modern enterprise.