Media 1 is pushing hard into the Human Capital Improvement space with SharePoint-based offerings for cohort learning (leadership and sales) and Onboarding. To learn more about the concerns and needs of people involved in talent management and development, we decided to attend MediaTec’s Strategies 2011 conference in Half Moon Bay, CA.

What a fantastic location and a great conference filled with key learning around diversity, inclusion, and techniques for managing and developing the workforce. However, the concept that I want to focus in on is that of employee engagement. Engagement isn’t a term that I have used a lot before now, but it’s one ingrained in the talent management lexicon.

It’s a great term because it encompasses and describes a level of involvement and commitment regardless of the development level or stage that an employee is in. While consulting on Onboarding systems, one of our primary goals is to increase time-to-productivity, but if we want higher levels of productivity, we have to get engagement first. A new hire can be modestly productive without engagement, but that hire won’t reach an optimum level of performance unless that person is truly engaged with their position and your company.

Beyond the Onboarding development phase, engagement is just as important. As we move through our careers, our level of engagement is variable; it waxes and wanes over time. Again we may have employees that are productive, but not engaged. Development opportunities in the form of corporate learning are one tool that talent managers have to re-establish, increase, or maintain engagement throughout the talent life cycle.

Looking back at the conference, it occurs to me that I saw a lot of curriculums designed to address engagement, but the really impressive ones paid as much attention to how the curriculum was delivered as they did to the curriculums themselves. In all cases, engagement programs were not single learning events or courses, but included a series of different kinds of learning opportunities delivered over a period of time. None stated it as such, but the net effect of the approach is the creation of a robust “learning experience.”

The more advanced engagement models also took into account where the employee was in their development within the organization. New employees have very different development needs than top executives, and their motivation and engagement levels will also vary widely. While that is the common-sense practical application of different engagement models for different types of learners and content, it also aligns with commonly accepted theories of employee development stages and talent management cycles.

I’m thinking deeply on how SharePoint-based curriculum frameworks can be targeted and mapped to specific phases in career development and how that can translate into better engagement and better performance. Stay tuned.