The African Society for Talent Development (ASTD) has launched its Leadership Dialogue Networks (LDN) to facilitate networking, knowledge-sharing and strategic problem solving in the talent community, with critical focus on the strategic roles of talent practitioners within organisations.

Says Henry Chandler, VP of ASTD South Africa; “If we are to meet the business challenges of tomorrow, build the irresistible organisation and deliver a new world of work, where collaborative partnerships and innovation become the status quo – we need to step up our drive and focus on skills development, talent management, knowledge transfer and sharing of best practices. We understand what the industry requires and are constantly innovating to ensure that not only are we introducing industry-firsts, but ensuring that our LDN puts real power in the hands of its community to make a tangible difference to the talent industry and this is exactly what our new LDNs aim to do.”

Each LDN has been specifically created to focus on key challenges or pain-points that the broader talent and skills development industry faces, and are designed in such a way that every person in the community can feed off other frameworks, irrespective of industry sector, to create a culture of high performance within their own organisations.

Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s new 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace. In other words, about one in eight workers are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organisations. “This disconnect from their workplace means workers are less likely to be productive – costing the company and the industry billions each year – which if we could turn around and increase productivity and engagement even by 20% – the impact would be massive for individual companies, sectors and possibly GDP growth,” adds Chandler.

By sharing best practices, providing access to research and resources, and enabling the facilitation of networking and problem-solving, ASTD is showing the importance of such communities not only in the talent community, but in the broader business one as well.

“The fundamentals of business have changed – no longer is it just about filling seat quotas or allocations – it’s about competence, delivery and outcomes-based measurables,” adds Chandler. “The role of the HR manager needs to evolve to include skills and overall talent development – an area that needs critical focus at the boardroom table if it is to add value to the broader business value chain. It’s really a combination of creating an employer value proposition, developing a culture of high performance, providing career and skills development and bringing it all together to build an engaged strategic workforce plan which will be critical to business growth now and into the future.”

The ASTD LDNs are divided into six key issues that are relevant to nurturing talent on the continent. These include the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) Innovation Network, Talent Attraction and Sourcing, Building a Leadership Culture, Young Talent Development, Talent Leadership and Strategy, and Technical Skills.

Sustainable transformation is vitally important. Decision-makers can ill afford not to create a culture that not only strives for better company practices, but will also result in more resilient businesses and ultimately a stronger economy.

“We are giving talent specialists access to like-minded people that might have a different approach to theirs or who have experience in solving issues they might be struggling with. Additionally, it’s a platform that allows for collaboration, knowledge sharing and solution building so that we progress as a whole, rather than in silos for the innovation and development of Africa,” concludes Chandler.