ATD Research Topics

ATD Research Reports provide organizations with indispensable information, metrics, survey data, and benchmarks they need for optimal workplace performance. 

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November 2017
(Corresponding Webcast to follow) – SOLD
Why Mentoring Matters: Talent Development Through Formal Mentoring Programs
This research explores how talent development functions can launch, design, and implement formal mentoring programs to develop their organization’s workforce and deliver improved employee engagement and individual performance. First, this report will establish the difference between mentoring and coaching programs as the two are commonly confused. Second, it will benchmark the use of formal mentoring programs across organizations. What role do talent development and learning departments typically play in mentoring programs? When is mentoring most effective in an employee’s career overall and with the organization? Who makes an effective mentor? What business results do effective mentoring programs create? What training and resources are provided to mentoring program participants? The research will also provide case studies and interviews from organizations that have successfully implemented formal mentoring programs. It will survey a broad range of talent development and human capital professionals across different industries.
November 2017
(Corresponding Webcast to follow) – SOLD
Advancing Innovation: Strategies for Talent Development
Innovation—in products, services, work processes, management, and more—drives competitive advantages and business success. This study snapshots innovation effectiveness and organizations’ innovation priorities (new products/services, product improvements, new markets, changing business models, etc.). What critical roles does talent development play in improving innovation?

Specifically, some key areas that may be explored are: What are critical skills needed to ensure success at all stages of the innovating process from idea generation to launch and how can organizations develop these skills in employees? What types of formal programs, resources for employees, and culture elements drive innovation?
December 2017
(Corresponding Webcast to follow) – SOLD
State of the Industry Report
ATD’s annual report is the definitive source for trends in workplace learning and development.
March 2018
(Corresponding Webcast to follow) – SOLD
Adaptive and Personalized Learning
Adaptive learning uses a technology-based learning platform to craft personalized development by changing content presentation based on learners’ responses, behaviors, or performance. Other technologies offer personalization, too, by recommending courses, curricula, and career paths based on a learner’s history of experiences, preferences, and behaviors.

This research examines the use of adaptive learning to identify features associated with stronger learning and business performance. What elements do adaptive learning platforms change to fit learners, and which behavioral markers trigger those changes? How do learning analytics figure in the personalization process? Does adaptive learning raise issues? The research also explores other personalized learning options and their effects on business and learning results.
March/April 2018
(Corresponding Webcast to follow) – SOLD
Performance Improvement: Methods and Skills
Performance improvement identifies performance gaps and seeks to identify the root causes, and looks at more than just training. The report assesses the state of performance improvement today and identifies which performance improvement methods are most strongly tied to organizational success. How would respondents rate the effectiveness of the methods they use? What types of skills does someone need to be an effective performance improvement professional? What are the biggest challenges to implementing an effective performance improvement approach? Where is the field headed and what tools are most important for talent development professionals to be aware of?
March/April 2018
(Corresponding Webcast to follow)
Needs Assessments
It’s not unusual for talent development professionals to create and deliver training without knowing if a need actually exists. When such a scenario occurs, it can waste time, energy, and resources. To avoid this problem, it’s essential for talent development professionals to start with a needs assessment to determine what training—if any—is necessary for employees to receive. This research examines how often needs assessments are conducted, as well as who is primarily responsible for conducting them and how they are done. It will also identify what percent of learning programs involve a pre-assessment of needs, the methodologies used, and how the data gathered is utilized and discussed.
June/July 2018
(Corresponding Webcast to follow)
Change Enablement
Change enablement—unlike change management—focuses on individual teams or individuals and examines the methods, skills, and tools necessary to gain acceptance and prepare employees for a transition. The process of change enablement entails monitoring evaluations and reactions and includes training to ensure employees are ready to face impending changes. The research will delve into exactly what change enablement entails and how it is defined, as well as how talent development professionals prepare employees for change in their organizations. Specifically, some key questions are: what programs are in place to support change enablement and resiliency? What are the top challenges to change enablement? Who receives training in change enablement? What are the primary benefits of change enablement?
June/July 2018
(Corresponding Webcast to follow) – SOLD
Talent Management: Upskilling and Reskilling
Upskilling and reskilling existing workers are critical talent strategies for many organizations. Some potential benefits are better retention, engagement, and ability to attract workers in a competitive talent market. They can also be a way to fill a pipeline for leadership positions or fill jobs that are challenging to fill with outside talent. Organizations may also use upskilling and reskilling as part of a major change initiative (e.g., a change in product focus, a merger or acquisition, or a global expansion), or as way to make the organization better able to succeed in the face of anticipated market and technology changes. Are these initiatives focusing on certain workers (e.g., workers who are most affected by changes in technology or whose jobs may be eliminated by changes, high-potentials, or certain age groups)? How do talent development professionals identify the skills gaps these initiatives should address? What types of upskilling and reskilling plans are ahead for organizations and what future forces will shape them?
August 2018
(Corresponding Webcast to follow)
Lifelong Learning, Self-directed Learning, and Accountability
Past ATD research has found that continuous knowledge-seeking by employees leads to better outcomes for both individuals and organizations. But what can organizations (and, in particular, their talent functions) do to encourage lifelong learning behaviors (ongoing, continuous seeking of knowledge?)

Also, how is lifelong learning driven by behaviors such as seeking knowledge outside of the organization or outside of work and self-directed learning? What are the barriers that are preventing employees from exhibiting self-directed learning behaviors and lifelong learning behaviors? Is it a lack of personalized plans, a lack of accountability, a lack of long-term goal setting, a culture issue, a lack of rewards and recognition, a lack of training in where/how to seek out continuous learning opportunities, a lack of preparation by educational institutions, or another factor?

Finally, how has technology changed lifelong learning and self-directed learning? Has technology changed tracking of learning over a lifetime, how learners are held accountable, and how learners access knowledge outside of work?
September 2018
(Corresponding Webcast to follow)
Sales Coaching
This research report will examine how organizations use sales coaching to develop salespeople, what makes an effective sales coaching approach, the benefits sales coaching provides to both the organization and its sales staff, and the barriers to sales coaching implementation and effectiveness. We will also explore what topics are discussed during sales coaching sessions and the focus of these sessions (e.g., account or territory knowledge, general sales skills), the frequency of sales coaching, and how organizations can successfully develop internal employees (such as sales managers and experienced salespeople) as sales coaches.