Thought Chief Q&A: Mike Bollinger

Mike Bollinger Discusses Expertise Growth Challenges And Knowledge-Pushed Discoveries

Mike Bollinger is an achieved government with 20 years of business expertise. In his present function as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with Cornerstone, he’s accountable for inner analysis in addition to technique improvement round outcome-based objectives. Mike helped discovered and presently manages the Cornerstone Individuals Analysis Lab (CPRL), whose mission is to generate data-driven discoveries in regards to the world of labor at present and establish rising traits that can give rise to new work fashions. Mike additionally collaborates with Cornerstone shoppers in an government capability as a frontrunner, influencer, and alter agent who applies experience to advanced companies. Right now, he speaks with us about constructing essential abilities and what the longer term holds for L&D.

Because the International Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with Cornerstone, you’re accountable for inner analysis and technique improvement. Primarily based in your expertise, what do you assume is the commonest problem that organizations face in relation to aligning their L&D initiatives with real-world outcomes?

The basic solutions listed here are most frequently learner engagement and measuring profitable outcomes.

Nonetheless, I’d add one elementary ongoing problem that will simply be harder to perform and will lay upstream to the primary two. That issue lies within the nuance in execution; merely put, alignment of abilities to the enterprise want.

In our personal current analysis, we discovered that when L&D leaders are figuring out which new abilities their workforce wants for the longer term, they typically look inward. They study their firm’s enterprise technique or discuss to their staff and leaders to seek out abilities gaps. Constructing worker capabilities and bridging ability gaps are very important processes, and we’re all actively engaged. Nonetheless, along with inspecting inner wants, firms want to concentrate to exterior forces. Our analysis discovered that employers do not look intently sufficient at what their opponents are doing, how their business is altering, how roles are laid out, and the way their know-how is altering. A profitable new skilling strategy requires that L&D leaders look past their 4 partitions—or, on this case, their 4 digital partitions—to be sure that their inner efforts align with bigger, exterior modifications.

In the event that they take this again to their group(s) as inputs into the L&D methods, they will align throughout areas, managers, and enterprise models. That alignment yields an understanding of how every is measured. L&D can construct personalised pathways in opposition to that evaluation, with a complete sport plan focused at closing the various completely different gaps.

Growing a plan is your measurement. True studying does not happen except there is a conduct change. So, first, determine how one can measure staff’ conduct modifications. Then, perceive how the change impacts a enterprise final result. Get a baseline measurement so that there is one thing to match new information to later. Measure your self and your initiatives in opposition to how the person enterprise teams are measured. Observe staff’ sentiment in the direction of L&D efforts as nicely—this may assist firms decide whether or not they’re truly closing the hole.

By doing this, you deal with the basic questions of engagement and measurement, however upstream. Each intrinsic worth for the learners and extrinsic worth for the group are tangible outcomes of those efforts.

You additionally handle the Cornerstone Individuals Analysis Lab (CPRL). Are you able to inform our readers a bit extra about its mission and why it was based?

The mission of the Cornerstone Individuals Analysis Lab (CPRL) is to generate data-driven discoveries in regards to the world of labor at present and establish rising traits that can give rise to new work fashions. Its two major areas of focus are company Studying and Growth traits and points associated to the expertise of individuals at work. We make this analysis obtainable to everybody as a result of we imagine a rising tide lifts all boats on this regard.

For a number of years, we began to do sponsored analysis (profession mobility, financial impression, and so forth.). About three years in the past, we had an inner dialogue about not solely persevering with that work however doing our personal analysis as nicely. The concept behind our unique work was to dig deeper into subjects we have been keen about at Cornerstone, in addition to to do longitudinal research (inspecting the change in our evaluation over a time interval).

The “2022 International Expertise Report” explores how profitable organizations worldwide are utilizing abilities to handle rising challenges. In your opinion, what was one of the vital shocking findings in regards to the employee-employer confidence hole? What do you assume is probably the most vital differentiating issue that units high-performing organizations aside from the remainder?

The 2022 report was a primary instance of that longitudinal evaluation I discussed within the query above. The unique report in 2020 not solely had a worldwide attain but additionally included sentiment evaluation by way of each the employer lens and the worker perspective.

The unique report had a really distinctive end result which we termed “The Expertise Confidence Hole,” i.e., the distinction between how aligned folks and organizations are after they price the group’s high quality and effectiveness of ability improvement alternatives.

This hole was statistically vital—there have been 30 factors between the employer’s funding confidence and the way staff felt about consuming the investments that have been being made.

Once we launched into our 2022 study, we requested after the identical objects however added particulars across the “why” and an extra perspective from historically high-performing organizations (HPOs). We discovered that the hole elevated to 31%—nevertheless, when it got here to high-performing organizations, the hole was a lot much less at solely 11%, whereas laggard organizations have been at a shocking 43% confidence hole. This alignment on perceptions in HPOs carried by way of into all of the detailed questions.

There are just a few differentiating components that shined by way of setting HPOs aside from the others. First is that success didn’t come by way of with a single initiative. The report discovered that high-performing organizations tended to have broad initiatives and never only a singular strategy. This got here by way of as an best possible follow.

Second, HPOs are targeted on future abilities. Ninety-nine p.c of staff of HPOs felt like their group might take motion on closing their abilities gaps. That is in comparison with solely 51% of laggard organizations.

Lastly, an internal-first hiring mindset was the catalyst for lots of the different high-performing outcomes we noticed within the report. It mirrored the alignment that staff at these organizations felt with their employers.

Expertise improvement is essential for long-term enterprise success. Primarily based on the report and your private insights, what are just a few of the frequent traits of an efficient skill-building program at present?

We have entered a brand new, digital world of labor that requires several types of abilities, and it is a possibility for workers to undertake them. Some individuals are utilizing low-code applied sciences—like collaboration platforms, digital toolsets, and video conferencing instruments—for the primary time and have developed new technical abilities consequently. Our gentle abilities have needed to change as nicely. We’re studying how one can successfully talk with others just about since in-person interactions aren’t an choice.

Subsequent, we ought to be targeted on on the lookout for adjacencies between abilities. For instance, if an organization wants pure language processing abilities, a future-focused group finds staff with abilities which are just like language processing—like somebody within the advertising division who communicates for a residing. Figuring out adjacencies makes new skilling efforts more practical and reduces the educational curve.

That is an unbelievable alternative for workers, however to totally benefit from it, they want to have the ability to put aside time to establish and explore new skills. This report made it clear that many staff really feel like they do not have sufficient time for self-directed studying. However lack of time can be a warning signal for different issues, like uncertainty, concern, and/or an absence of steerage. So, it is essential for organizations to seek out methods to assist them alongside on their studying journey. This won’t solely encourage them to undertake a self-directed strategy to studying, however it provides them the possibility to profit from the investments employers are making in them.

For employers present process speedy digital transformation, many regarded internally to see who that they had within the workforce to contribute to or lead these initiatives. What some discovered is their “stock” of abilities required some work and so they did not execute as rapidly as they might have. Organizations ought to begin by investing in administration groups and their studying, as this has a secret “multiplier impact” that yields outcomes at sooner speeds. Then, encourage managers to speak to their staff about their profession objectives and motivations, and modify their studying accordingly. By gathering a deeper understanding of staff’ particular person abilities, it is simpler to find adjacencies and develop new abilities with pace. The organizations that be taught this lesson and spend money on higher visibility into their workforce may have a stronger functionality to answer disruption sooner or later.

What do you assume the longer term holds for L&D, notably relating to abilities improvement and distant expertise administration?

This can be a powerful one. I beforehand did a session with Don Taylor on the Studying Applied sciences Convention, the place we regarded again on a few of our failed predictions as an business. For instance, in 2015, all of us thought that the concept of digital privateness would disappear within the social media explosion, many thought eLearning was a fad, and that gamification would change every thing.

However finally, what Don and I landed on was that, as L&D practitioners, we ought to be reminded that we have to develop as nicely, and consequently, our future focus areas ought to embody:

  • A give attention to the talents of the longer term. That is an evolution fairly than a revolution, and we have to discover a technique to maintain abilities evergreen.
  • Actionable insights are what get you within the door. Knowledge is in every single place, however it’s the way you make sense of that information and switch it into information to realize beneficial insights. You do not want good information; you simply want to make use of the info you could have correctly.
  • Having business-specific acumen is central to the L&D function. You’ll want to perceive what’s going on in your enterprise. How do you measure success? What insights may be drawn from these measurements? And the way can these be aligned to the objectives of the broader enterprise?

For our future to be vibrant, our methods want to incorporate:

  • Connectedness – To maximise impression inside a enterprise, leaders should create a related expertise for companies and staff.
  • Knowledge – Leverage AI to streamline your strategy and collect baseline outcomes to work from.
  • Unrelenting focus – Studying and Growth ought to be seen as a core enterprise precedence, not only a studying precedence.

Whereas we can’t precisely predict the way forward for L&D, we will put measures into place to assist soften the blow of change. Merchandise with a specialist focus, like Cornerstone, assist to create a related expertise between companies and staff—whereas gathering and analyzing abilities information that improves productiveness and deepens insights. Working with know-how as one of many instruments within the broad initiatives that high-performing organizations accomplish that nicely, one can revolutionize the way in which a enterprise features.

2022 is the 12 months for L&D to essentially make itself recognized and have extra of that seat on the desk.

What’s certainly one of your standout eLearning consumer success tales?

A narrative that basically stands out to me is from Deutsche Publish DHL Group (DPDHL), a number one logistics firm with operations in submit, freight, provide chain, and e-commerce. DPDHL is made up of a household of close-knit enterprise divisions all working collectively to satisfy clients’ wants.

For DPDHL, it is very important give attention to what excellence appears like on this digital world and the way its folks can adapt to that change. With the tempo of change shifting at unbelievable pace and new abilities changing into more and more very important in at present’s world of labor, DPDHL turned to Synthetic Intelligence (AI) to assist align abilities with future challenges for the enterprise.

A serious a part of DPDHL’s 2025 expertise technique is figuring out the talents presently of their group at present and uncovering potential skills which are related to tomorrow. That is particularly necessary, as DPDHL created 20,000 new jobs final 12 months and now has 570,000 staff in 220 international locations, some 400,000 of that are customer-facing within the area. One of many greatest challenges tied to this goal is how to usher in a abilities ontology that may replicate the variations between desk-based roles and area roles, comparable to these dealing with and delivering parcels. That is the place AI comes into play.

DPDHL turned to Cornerstone’s abilities ontology providing, an AI-powered abilities engine that identifies capabilities throughout the group, which may then be matched to jobs throughout the firm and pinpoint potential abilities gaps. The Cornerstone Expertise Graph is constructed on a strong and continually up to date abilities taxonomy of over 53,000 distinctive abilities pulled from thousands and thousands of job positions throughout each business across the globe.

Now, on the click on of a button, DPDHL can establish what may be the following profession transfer for an airside handler or a supervisor in a warehouse, and what abilities they’ve that may be transferable to different elements of the enterprise, or that they’d wish to develop to be able to be an attention-grabbing candidate for an additional division or one other nation.

In choosing the proper companion, DPDHL set out clear goals to reply each the wants of its staff—fluid profession paths—and the wants of the enterprise—retaining its expertise and future-proofing itself.

As soon as the talents are out on the desk, the worker can then select what areas they’d wish to develop to be able to transfer up or into a brand new profession path, opening up many prospects and mapping out their future with the corporate.

Selecting this strategic skills-first strategy to improvement signifies that staff at DPDHL are regularly rising and studying, setting profession paths that aren’t essentially linear and as a substitute utterly personalised to them.

In consequence, DPDHL has elevated worker retention, promoted from inside, and saved thousands and thousands of {dollars} in exterior recruitment prices. As well as, DPDHL gathered extra information on their staff’ abilities after three weeks of being stay with the talents profile than they did in additional than 5 years of their earlier profile, giving them a stronger baseline understanding of who their individuals are.

Staff at DPDHL are benefiting from:

  • A structured profession path. Past matching staff to alternatives, DPDHL aspires to supply staff a technique to maintain profession improvement in sight on an ongoing foundation—from planning future roles to receiving recommendations to develop the mandatory abilities.
  • Elevated worker retention. As staff can envisage their future at DPDHL, fewer are leaving and there’s a lowering want to rent externally. Actually, DPDHL has had a drop of 10% in exterior recruiting sources, saving thousands and thousands.
  • Extra visibility to inner recruiters. DPDHL allows its recruiters to have elevated visibility of the inner expertise swimming pools primarily based on greater than obtained purposes for a place. That method, staff may have a technique to elevate their arms for brand new positions, and recruiters will be capable of see their matches with no want for an energetic utility.
  • Each expertise administration and expertise improvement. DPDHL needs its folks to develop, and for that to be celebrated. It might really feel exhausting on managers when staff transfer groups and departments at first, however in the long run, individuals are engaged, their experiences are improved, and the enterprise is general extra environment friendly and efficient.
  • Sense of goal. Due to AI and Cornerstone, staff now really feel like they’ve a way of goal within the office, which is among the most necessary attributes that folks search for in a company at present.
  • Plugging the talents hole. From an HR perspective, AI permits DPDHL to establish abilities gaps that in any other case would go unnoticed till it’s a greater downside. This higher prepares the corporate for the longer term, and consequently, DPDHL turns into a extra sustainable enterprise in the long term.

Learn extra Cornerstone success stories to find how the precise companion may help you revolutionize your expertise improvement technique. 

Wrapping Up

An enormous thanks to Mike Bollinger for sharing his insights with our readers and for shedding mild on present and rising abilities improvement challenges. Study extra about how profitable organizations worldwide are utilizing abilities to assist themselves and their folks thrive in a brand new world of labor by downloading the Global Skills Report.


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Our names are Fareedah and Kamilah Amoo. We are seven and five year’s old sisters and live in Ontario, Canada, with our parents and little brother, Awad. We love writing stories, painting on canva, coding, reading books, and enjoying arts and crafts. Our goal is to motivate every child worldwide to read more books.

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