Just 8% of L&D professionals believe their business and L&D goals are fully aligned. In a knowledge worker economy, L&D can be instrumental in enabling the business to achieve their goals and attract/retain top talent. There is a tendency to see L&D as a cost center rather than a capability that can add to the bottom-line of the company. This article explores the approaches that L&D leaders can use to craft an L&D strategy that enables their organizations to achieve their long-term business goals.
Develop a Business Mindset
L&D teams function as solution providers instead of the business transformers they can be. The first step is to talk in the language of business. Make the efforts to ensure your L&D team understands your business, its challenges, and needs. Less than half of L&D leaders consider the business problem before recommending solutions and only 36% work with business leaders to measure L&D impact. To help business, you need to think like a business –
- Be customer-centric
- Create a performance culture
- Focus on delivering value
Measure L&D Impact
While 93% of business leaders agree they need to work on their talent management strategy, 61% haven’t taken the first step in the direction. Help your top management bridge the gap in talent management. Business leaders think in $$$. Make the business case for L&D. Measure your impact on the business. Calculate your L&D ROI to show how the company gains with each dollar spend on L&D. This will turn a ‘spend’ on L&D to an ‘investment’ in L&D, allowing your company to ramp up the resources needed to meet its talent needs.
Collaborate with Business
Create the mindshare L&D needs by working with business leaders to meet their present and future needs. Identify and connect with your stakeholders, not just the top management. Anyone responsible for business is a stakeholder you need to enable. Treat them as internal customers whose organizations depend on your team for their growth. Embedding L&D in business units can help tackle the diverse needs of larger companies. Ensure you stay in the loop of business strategy and make L&D goals part of your business planning exercise.
Give Learners What They Want
Know your audience. Prescriptive workplaces of yore have given place to a dynamic workplace whose occupants expect the very best in user experience, choice and flexibility. Talk to your learners before you plan how they learn and who they learn from. Newage learning libraries and coding platforms may provide better learning outcomes than traditional methods of training. Go the extra mile to provide the solutions they want and will love to use. Great L&D experience can go a long way in retaining and upskilling your best talent.
Promote and Market L&D
Crafting the best strategy and L&D experience can only go so far without marketing. Use internal communication tools, kiosks, sessions, and social media to keep your employees and leaders engaged and informed of your initiatives. Engagement is the key to success of any talent management exercise. Hackathons, expert connects and contests can help generate interest in learning and development. Motivate employees with social learning and rewards to incentivize the desired learning outcomes. Share success stories to inspire others to devote their time and efforts to training.
While planning skill upgrades for the whole organization, don’t forget to focus on yourself and your team. Invest in a domain related and L&D training for your team. Encourage connects with L&D conferences, networks, and ecosystem partners to keep your organization’s L&D ahead of the curve. L&D teams have evolved from event managers to performance consultants. Give them the resources and goals to achieve professional skill upgrades. Your team should participate in the learning process with the learners.
According to a PwC report, 73% of business leaders identify the quality of skills as their biggest worry. Form an Advisory Council to mentor L&D programs. Define and measure quality. Create best practices and guidelines to ensure operational effectiveness. Having transparent performance tracking and a multi-level feedback system can go a long way in ensuring your L&D dollar is well spent. Regular retrospection and course correction are essential to keep your L&D programs relevant as the business year unfolds.
Key L&D Trends in 2018
Tackling Emerging Technologies
With ever-expanding skill trees and a constantly changing landscape, emerging technologies pose a challenge to L&D and a potential to business. Nuanced skill mapping and skill planning are required to meet the technology talent needs. Engaging the right training vendors with a more long-term collaboration can help you leverage internal and external competencies to deliver the best for your business.
Emphasis on People skills
Focus on people skills like collaboration, negotiation, decision making, and communication to develop the organizational EQ is required. While it is harder to measure and tailor the impact of soft skills programs, they are critical to business. Your leadership in crafting a soft skills strategy is essential to help your organization create high-performance teams.
Instructors to Coaches
The advent of self-serve learning platforms does not mean the human element is not required. Expert coaching and mentoring access can provide much higher engagement and quality outcomes. From playing the central role in training, experts are now required as facilitators for a personalized learning experience. Leveraging external experts could be key to keeping your organizational knowledge relevant and up to date.
Using the Right Tools
The way we live and the way we do business are changing with the influx of digital technology. Digital tools, services, and enterprise solutions can be used to boost your team’s productivity and effectiveness. Training Management Systems and L&D Cloud solutions can help streamline your operations and increase your efficiencies.
Leveraging Training as a Benefit
L&D programs are becoming a differentiator in job markets where there is high competition for talent. Personal growth and development is a major factor in job satisfaction. Create a culture of learning that motivates your employees. A learning culture they are proud to participate and share. L&D could be the top reason to work for your organization.
Meeting the expectations of leaders and learners with a business mindset and to deliver value effectively in a dynamic environment with a focus on quality are challenges that L&D leaders need to overcome in 2018 as they create and achieve L&D goals that enable business results.
We would love to hear your thoughts and insights in the comments. We’d love to help you strategize, execute and measure your L&D goals for 2018.