Learning & development: at the heart of your organisation
I spoke this week at the CIPD Learning & Development (L&D) conference in London. During the last three months, we have been working with the CIPD on the 2014 Learning and Development report, and throughout the research project, one key theme stood out: the importance of putting L&D at the heart of the business.
In my opinion, the report validates statistically that L&D professionals now understand that they have to work closer with the business and understand what the business’ goals are. A few years ago, when I talked to L&D professionals, there was definitely a disconnect between their priorities and the wider goals of the business. Today I see that disconnect less and less, with L&D professionals taking ownership of truly understanding what the business priorities are and where the business is trying to go.
Following the economic climate of the past few years, many organisations are going through massive transformation projects whilst others are deploying new strategies to grow. Whichever approach your organisation is undertaking, you’ve got to understand the drivers of your business so that you can deploy the right training programmes to meet your goals and priorities. However, to understand your prioritising correctly, you’ve got to talk to the business. Decisions can’t be based on where the business was last year or the year before that and therefore redeploying the same training programmes year after year won’t work.
If your organisation is embarking on a new journey, you’ll have new goals and priorities and therefore the L&D activities needs to reflect this. The survey highlighted the importance of metrics; without these, L&D professionals often feel that they lack credibility when talking to other departments.
The survey found that 60% of organisations still feel that they don’t have a good measurement system for their activity. This finding did surprised me as measuring activity has to done and it has to be done correctly. There are lots of tools out there that can help with this, whether you’re looking at the number of hours spent or the training budget per person, for example.
The next phase is measuring the impact of the L&D activity on the individual. Organisations are deploying more creative approaches for measuring the impact of L&D, such as observational check lists. This is the concept of allowing managers to rate how people are performing against a specific set of expected behaviours. For example, is the sales assistant welcoming the customer in the right way and demonstrating the right skills and knowledge?
The key this is to tie those metrics to the priorities of the organisation and be able to turn the data into valuable insight for your organisation. Your response could be that there is too much data due to the volume of L&D activity your organisation is undertaking – coaching, classroom training, videos, e-learning, intranet etc – and therefore have uncertainty around how you can decipher through it all. Part of the answer to this is being equipped with software to help you and the other is keeping the metrics simple. Start with the basic metrics that you’re really trying to achieve, keep asking questions and keep metrics simple. As long as you have a starting point, you can grow from there.
To view the full CIPD/Cornerstone OnDemand Learning & Development Report 2014, please click here.
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