Every Organization Needs a Learning and Development Strategy
The benefits of having a Learning and Development (L&D) framework are undebatable. Look up the word “undebatable” on Google. You will find that, the word used in one of the example sentences points to the importance of learning; “the undebatable effectiveness of learning by doing” but, even with this familiar insight, organizations still shy away from creating and committing to a solid L&D strategy. Some of the reasons why are good and in this article, we will be looking at why these challenges arise, as well as what can be done to ensure they don’t cripple L&D in an organization.
A quote that explains the importance of L&D in the workplace is one given by Global Educator and Business Leader, Stephen Covey.
“Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves”
L&D helps communicate and materialize that worth and potential.
There are typical strategies commonly deployed for L&D programs in organizations, such as: the formal training, collaborative learning, and of course, on-the-job learning. There’s nothing wrong with using tried and tested methods but, if they are not modeled to accomplish an organization’s vision for L&D , the envisioned outcomes for the program will end up being nothing but mirages.
This common mismatch strategy usually leads organizations to underwhelming results which subsequently pushes them to offer quality L&D to employees at a higher cost or a slower pace to help manage expectations. A good example is different training packages being made available to employees based on seniority.
Some of the other challenges faced with investing in good L&D programs include:
- The toll of curating effective L&D programs
L&D is meant to close the skills gap for each team member and this requires an understanding of what level each member is on to better determine what training is needed to upskill or reskill the individual. Large organizations with more than 1000 employees might not be able to spend the resources required to tailor L&D to every single team member. Having annual training for all employees relating to a particular topic can be helpful in educating them but it might not effectively close the skills gap if that is the only form of training offered.
2. The expense of executing desired programs
The cost of training corporate employees is very high because of the estimated ROI after upskilling or reskilling. This often negatively influences the decision to invest in training for a large number of employees.
3. The time required to finish L&D programs
The expectation versus the reality of combining L&D with daily work activity is one most individuals are not prepared for. Sacrificing efficiency in main work tasks for L&D is not a risk most organizations want to take.
4. Completion rates
Some organizations create teams or employ organizations that curate L&D for employees, any training or reading materials not completed or utilized leads to loss and that discourages further investments in L&D.
5. Churn rate
This might be the most concerning issue with investing in L&D for employers. Investing in employees that leave before any tangible degree of ROI and the cost of training replacements can cripple L&D programs.
That being said, with a carefully curated L&D framework, organizations can create a culture where growth and productivity are revered and strived for with leadership and employees taking ownership to ensure efforts towards L&D provide outputs that strategically align with the organization’s vision, while also fulfilling personal development goals. A good L&D framework should provide avenues for employees to learn skills that help them remain competitive at work while preparing them for their career progression, and for the employees at the start of their careers, give them a good understanding of all that is required for them to be successful in their roles.
Creating a good L&D framework
The ACADEMIES framework is a very useful tool in assessing what L&D strategy best suits an organization. It allows organizations to consider factors like an increasingly competitive business landscape, rising complexity of executing deliverables, the digital revolution, a multigenerational workforce, and the short shelf-life of knowledge. With proper planning, it can help organizations constantly burgeon skilled employees, exceptional leaders and a well developed knowledge management system.
The ACADEMIES framework employs the following rules:
- Alignment with business strategy
Every good strategy starts with an end result in mind. The vision and values of an organization should influence it’s L&D strategy. If an organization’s vision is to attain product leadership in a particular industry while pushing for a friendly work environment, their strategy should be focused on ingraining core company values in employees while exposing them to cutting-edge technology to ensure their development is aligned with that vision.
2. Co-ownership between business units and HR
There should be shared ownership with developing and executing L&D strategies across an organization. Constant communication between business unit heads and the L&D team helps ensure training offered to employees remains relevant and with rapidly changing technology, business unit heads can suggest key legacy and industry disrupting skills that should be included in the L&D strategy for different staff at particular periods.
3. Assessment of capability gaps
Each employee is hired to solve a particular problem in an organization. There is a possibility some employees may be overskilled for the jobs assigned to them while others might know just enough to keep them from being underskilled. The L&D team’s task should be to highlight these gaps when compared to the expectations of the role, to better curate the L&D journey of an employee and, of course, give room for them to learn skills that better prepares them for future roles.
4. Design of learning journeys
After the key components for developing an employee’s L&D journey have been highlighted, figuring out the best way for the employee to transition from learning those skills to integrating them into daily work activities is the next step. This includes highlighting the best delivery methods for teaching the skills and the communication & productivity tools that need to be adopted by the organization to ensure employees have the chance to use the newly learned skills.
5. Execution and scale-up
Taking the time to properly develop a strong foundation for the L&D framework makes it easier to adapt the guidelines to repeat over the years for old and new hires with minimum adjustments. Successfully executing L&D strategies on time and budget shows that developing high performing teams can be sustained as organizations see tangible ROIs.
6. Measure impact on business
Measuring the impact of L&D strategies is crucial to determining what methods work best for an organization over time. It is essential to always work towards deploying cost efficient and high productivity techniques to maximize outputs. Indicators should be set to measure business excellence (How well the strategy is aligned with the organization’s vision), learning excellence (How efficient knowledge delivery was) and operational excellence (How well resources were utilized). Individual performance, employee engagement, team effectiveness, and business-process improvement should also be observed to measure overall performance.
7. Institutionalize and integrate
To ensure L&D strategy goals are accomplished, they need to be prioritized in performance reviews. L&D and HR teams need to work together to ensure there is follow up on how efficient the strategies have been and they also need to create a structure with which performance, promotion, and succession capacities are measured for each employee. L&D strategies also help with onboarding new hires to ensure they are better prepared for their new roles.
8. Enabling of the 70:20:10 learning framework
Even though the ratio at which organizations deliver formal, collaborative, or on-the-job learning differs, the point of this rule is to ensure organizations deploy different knowledge delivery methods to maximize every opportunity to prepare their employees for a competitive business landscape. Other learning delivery systems utilized in organizations are informal learning (including coaching and mentoring, on-the-job instruction, apprenticeships, leadership shadowing, action-based learning, on-demand access to digital learning, and lunch-and-learn sessions).
9. Systems and learning technology applications
It is important for L&D teams to take advantage of technological advancements to better educate employees, maximize efforts and effectively measure overall performance.
To maximize L&D framework development efforts, L&D teams need to embrace a broader role within an organization and create an ambitious vision for their work to ensure they remain flexible and agile, and at the forefront of creating the human talent needed to master innovation and productivity.
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