Learning and Development - Bridging tech, business growth, and inclusive leadership: A conversation with Asfa Malik

June 4, 2024

    In this episode of "AI to Z" we sit down with Asfa Malik, an award-winning talent development leader and strategist. Asfa shares her insights on how technology is revolutionizing the global learning and development space, and how inclusive leadership can drive significant business growth.

    In today's rapidly evolving landscape, the synergy between technology, business growth, and inclusive leadership has become essential. Business leaders who adopt innovative technologies and champion inclusivity drive their organisations towards sustainable success. This approach not only fosters better decision-making but also enhances team morale and productivity.

    From her experience in sales learning and strategy to her expertise in data analysis and consultative selling, Asfa offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone looking to enhance their organization's learning and development initiatives.

    Listen to the full episode below:

    How technology is impacting Learning & Development?

    Never would I have thought that we use AI or machine learning when it comes to any type of training, whether it's a workshop or a conversation. But here we are.

    Asfa talks about the start of learning and development and how it has evolved in the last twenty years. L&D has come along way from the rudimentary style of an employee handbook as an afterthought, to become strategically aligned with wider business goals offering more dedicated support to the business and it's employees.

    Asfa highlights the importance of training and development departments being closely tied to revenue and bridging the gap between providing skills and promoting business growth.

    Learning and Development has seen some of the largest impacts from improving technology, and this impact has only been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic changing how businesses reach out to teams and organise their training.

    Understanding L&D, budgets and revenue

    If I can align my programmes and activities back to the businesses global strategy, then I have a better story to tell.

    Asfa talks about the value of Learning and Development and how learning leaders need to be able to change the perception of development within the company. Helping the senior leadership and C-suite executives understand the value that L&D are bringing to the company can help open up more budget for skills programmes and learning development.

    Without a strong strategic plan linking L&D to revenue it can sometimes be hard for businesses to understand the importance of the department when it comes to budgets. This can result in less money going towards L&D when in reality the skills they're providing to employees could offset any costs of the programmes or activities themselves.

    Trends and leadership within L&D

    My biggest concern was, am I providing value? I define my value based on are our people gaining skills and making the changes that are needed.

    Asfa discusses the importance of looking at long term data trends to understand how L&D is having an impact on the business from both a strategic, and leadership quality outcome. She suggests this can be done through employee engagement surveys, client satisfaction surveys as well as numerous other data points collected over a long period of time. Reviewing these data points allows businesses to understand how an activity like leadership training can reduce turnover rate for example. 

    Measuring the success of training isn't simple but it can be data-led. Leadership training can be tied to things like turnover rates and employee satisfaction from those working with that leader, where as more straight-forward skill development like IT skills can be measured through increasing productivity over time.

    Creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace

    Take a step back and look at where the organisation is, how are they feeling? What is their appetite for change? Because you're going to have people that resist that change.

    The episode discusses how DEI leaders can change workplace culture by fostering relationships and help create a culture of wanting to change. Asfa explains how if you can get C-Suite executives to embrace the ideas of diversity, equality and inclusion that can then filter down to every employee and make a big difference to overall company culture.

    She highlights the importance of not just hiring a more diverse workforce, but to make sure they're engaged and that the company culture itself is promoting DEI in every way it can.

    Changing employers and employees mindsets

    You need to get rid of the word training and replace it with learning, development and supporting the organisation in terms of getting them where they need to go.

    Both employers and employees have a role to play in making a business successful and Asfa talks about how those roles need support and development to ensure the business can continue to grow. She talks about the importance of L&D leaders to work with and support everyone in the organisation with overall company strategy. 

    The business case for L&D is as an investment to further skills and develop employees in key areas, instead of looking at L&D as a cost centre it should be looked at as a way of future-proofing your workforce while providing increases to efficiency, skills and leadership qualities.

    Key takeaways

    • How technology is impacting learning and development: Discover how AI and virtual reality are reshaping what L&D looks like today. Find out more about how Covid-19 has accelerated the technological shift we're seeing in learning and development courses and assignments.

    • Understanding L&D, budgets and revenue: Understand the relationship between L&D, budgets and revenue and how the three come together to improve business growth and empower your workforce.

    • Trends and leadership within L&D: Learn more about the key trends within L&D and how they impact leaders throughout a business to drive progress, change mindsets and promote growth.

    • Creating an inclusive workplace: Creating an inclusive workplace doesn't just involve making diversity hires but it's about changing perceptions within a business and making sure L&D is partnering with other employees to understand how DEI can be implemented at all levels of business.

    • Changing the mindsets of employees and employers: We explain the business case for L&D as an investment rather than a sunken cost. This includes developing skills and leadership qualities that are aligned with the company strategy to increase efficiency and promote growth.

    Article and quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.

    This post was written by: Matthew Hearfield, Marketing & Content Coordinator