With all the research and data that exists today, it is hard to deny the benefits of having a learning and development (L&D) discipline within an organization. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that most leaders in mid- to large-size organizations include learning and talent development initiatives in their overall business strategy. Additionally, they found that training and development ranks among the five most important benefits that employees consider when seeking employment opportunities.
So, there you have it. Add Learning and Development to your organization’s overall strategy and you will be successful, right?
Herein lies the issue. Many organizations today undoubtedly see the benefits of L&D inside their organization, however, they overlook a critical component: the learning strategy. Having a learning strategy can mean the difference between training your employees and successfully training your employees.
A well thought out and developed learning strategy will help ensure the overall effectiveness of training programs, longevity of your training initiatives, as well as, help safeguard the transfer of learning between a training program and the employee. Below are a few steps organizations can take to help develop an effective learning strategy.
Training Needs Analysis
One of the most disregarded areas of L&D is needs analysis. Too often, organizations will offer random training programs without taking the time to learn what their needs truly are.
Haphazard trainings tend to be the result of using only subjective data or, even worse, guessing. Subjective data tends to be gathered through both formal and informal conversations with organization leaders and stakeholders. This type of data is based primarily on opinion, and by itself, rarely identifies the training needs of an organization. The danger comes when decisions as to which training programs to implement are based solely upon that subjective data.
Don’t get me wrong, subjective data is not a bad thing. Data through opinion and observation can be useful, it should simply never be used as a single source of information when determining training programs.
The main issue with this type of data is that leaders and stakeholders often have tunnel vision and see their specific area of business only. Furthermore, they tend to see what is directly in front of them and are often less aware of what is happening in the frontline. Occasionally, organization’s get lucky using only subjective data but more times than not, they miss the mark completely.
To get a holistic view of an organization’s training needs, they must incorporate objective data using analytics tools such as:
- Organizational Analysis
- Work/Task Analysis
- Performance Analysis
- Content Analysis
- Cost Benefit Analysis
Another useful analytics tool that many of today’s corporations currently have available is the annual employee satisfaction survey. This survey is a highly effective and cost-efficient way for organizations to gain valuable training needs data. By asking a few, well thought out, open-ended questions in an employee engagement survey, the door opens to a plethora of useful information.
The best, most effective learning strategies don’t come from using subjective data or objective data, alone. It comes from using a combination of this information to help paint a holistic picture of where the most critical training needs are and which ones to begin focusing on.
Know Your Capabilities
In addition to identifying it’s most critical training needs, an organization must fully understand it’s overall capabilities when developing a learning strategy. Organizations should be asking questions such as: What are the organization’s capabilities? What are the desired capabilities? Why do they need/want these capabilities? Questions such as these help an organization better understand where they are today and where they intend on being in the future.
Organizations who are looking to develop an effective learning strategy will also benefit by taking inventory of their available resources such as time, money, and personnel. Knowing this will help keep them focused more on what the needs are and less on what the wants are.
As most of us well know, no matter how great our forecasting is, business can take a turn without notice. In cases like this, it is good practice to have training needs prioritized in the event that a planned program(s) needs to be postponed or eliminated to meet budget.
Lastly, it is important to know the organization’s skillsets. What are the strengths? What are the opportunities for improvement? After all, by developing its people, an organization is developing itself. Through identifying skillsets, it is easier for an organization to see where their strengths and opportunities are.
In part two of this article, we explore and discuss training delivery, program piloting, and measuring success.
|Dan Kurber is a dynamic, engaging and innovative Leadership Development professional. He has honed his craft as a master facilitator and internal executive coach while working for several Fortune 150 companies such as Charter Communications, Comcast Communications, U.S. Bank, as well as Publicis Media.
Specializing in Organizational Development and Leadership Coaching, Dan has a proven track record of success in Leadership Development, Innovative Employee Engagement, and Behavior Modification.
With his larger than life personality and thoroughly engaging facilitation style, Dan leads audiences on an exciting journey of self-discovery and social awareness that will transform the way they grow, develop and lead others. Learn more at CoachingSherpa.com.