Learning & Development Strategy
An article from McKinsey & Company listed the essential components for a successful learning and development strategy (L&D strategy). These components were corroborated by the key considerations for a successful L&D Strategy provided by The Institute for Management Development (IMD) and other sources. From these lists, two key components of an L&D strategy were selected.
Alignment With Overall Business Strategy
- One of the primary roles of learning and development is to “develop and shape a learning strategy based on the company’s business and talent strategies.”
- According to IMD, the design of an enterprise L&D strategy must be consistent and anchored towards the company’s long-term business strategy.
- The reason why it is important to align the L&D strategy with the overall business strategy is because of the unique nature of each company’s learning and development needs. For example, a company whose strategy is digital transformation will need a different L&D strategy from a company whose strategy is brand marketing.
- For a business whose strategy is digital transformation, L&D will focus on building the necessary people capabilities, while for a business whose strategy is brand marketing, L&D will focus on marketing courses.
- An effective L&D strategy must analyze the capabilities of the employees and determine the ones which are the most essential to support the execution of the company’s overall business strategy.
- According to Mckinsey, “L&D leaders should reevaluate this alignment on a yearly basis to ensure they are creating a people-capability agenda that truly reflects business priorities and strategic objectives.”
Assessment of Capability Gaps
- Companies need to verify whether their employees have the capabilities to meet the company's business priorities.
- Mckinsey interactions with various L&D professions, HR, and senior executives revealed that many companies are ineffective when assessing capability gaps. This is especially true for senior leaders and mid-level managers.
- Companies that are deemed effective usually take a deliberate, systematic approach to capability assessment. The assessment involves "a comprehensive competency or capability model based on the organization's strategic direction.
- Once a company has been able to identify the capabilities needed by its employees for various job descriptions, it should then assess how they rate in each of the capabilities identified.
- After the assessment, the L&D strategy should then be formulated to close existing capability gaps.
Chiradeep Basu Mallick, a content marketing professional with over eight years of experience in corporate communication, identified seven best practices for creating an L&D strategy. Three of the seven best practices have been provided below.
Use Technology Intelligently to Personalize the Learning Experience
- According to Jeff Freyermuth, a one size fits all approach to L&D will be ineffective in the evolving work environment.
- It is, therefore, a good practice for companies to explore how technology can help them personalize learning.
- L&D professionals need to understand that business requirements are continuously evolving and that the standard office is made up of different generations. Personalized learning is therefore required to meet the needs of different generations at the workplace.
- Therefore, the use of technology can “help create automated, intuitive, and interactive learning workflows that adapt to employee behavior.”
Embed L&D into the larger HR landscape
- L&D is usually designated as a separate function, independent from HR in enterprises with many employees. Mostly this leads to a siloed approach that causes little collaboration to exist between HR and L&D, causing companies to have limited visibility into how their L&D programs impact people’s outcomes.
- It is, therefore, a good practice for companies to embed L&D into their HR landscape. Embedding L&D into the HR landscape will see different decision-makers like the chief learning officer (CLO) collaborating with the chief human resources officer (CHRO).
- According to thinQi it is vital for the HR and L&D departments to be in regular contact. Brad Taylor, Director of People at CIPD, believes that integrating HR and L&D will add much more value to the business.
- The above statement is supported by a recent report that revealed, “88% of high-performing learning organizations ensure there is a communication plan in place for all key stakeholders and that 91% of them have L&D that is fully aligned with the strategic goals of the organization.”
Various jobs/roles exist when developing an L&D strategy. The people who complete the different roles in developing an L&D strategy include an L&D specialist, L&D manager, L&D director, and an L&D consultant. These individuals, however, require key skills that will allow them to develop an effective L&D strategy. The skills required include but are not limited to communication skills and empathy.
- The Data Crunch company identified communication skills as one of the most desired skills needed by L&D professionals. Other skills identified in their research included project management, organizational skills, and time management.
- L&D professionals are usually in constant communication with different stakeholders across the organization in order to pinpoint upskilling requirements, obtain buy-in, and eliminate bottlenecks.
- L&D professionals are tasked with identifying skill gaps in the organization by talking to both employees and employers.
- Good communication skills are essential when conveying ideas and conducting training sessions.
- It will be challenging for an L&D professional to reach their target audience if they cannot communicate properly. L&D Managers will be unable to motivate their staff or explain the need for the training to the employees.
- It is therefore essential that an L&D professional have superior communication skills that will enable them to hold meaningful conversations about key issues.
- It is the work of L&D professionals to pinpoint the exact needs that their learning clients have. Learning clients, in this case, could include a group of interns, a specific department, or individual employees.
- Empathy is crucial as it will allow L&D professionals to empathize with the clients and help them identify learning needs that they did not know they had.
- According to the eLearning Industry, “empathy is a crucial factor in designing meaningful experiences that connect with an individual’s motivation, needs and workflow.”
- Additionally, empathy provides L&D professionals with the skills to modify training needs and to create personalized programs for their clients.
During the research, we were unable to identify individual top learning and development programs available to enterprises. We found out that instead of individual programs, the companies, institutions, or groups offering the learning and development programs are the ones considered to be top or best. After an extensive search of expert blogs, key industry players' websites and press releases, news articles, and market reports, we came to this realization. Our research revealed that BizLibrary and Outback Team Building are among the top companies that offer learning and development programs. These companies were identified because of their large number of clients and recommendations from other websites.
- BizLibrary is a leading provider of online employee training and eLearning solutions.
- BizLibrary clients use the company's collection of online training videos to implement successful employee training solutions. The company also offers its clients an award-winning Learning Management System.
- Some of the clients that have successfully used BizLibarys programs include:
- SpanTech, a manufacturing company with a multi-generation workforce, used BizLibrary to add online content to their training program.
- Sachse, a construction company, leveraged BizLibrary to create for them a formal training program.
- Quick Med claims that by partnering with BizLibrary, it was "able to create an engaging training program to support their employees on their learning and development journey and fulfill their company compliance training needs."
- The company's large collection of online training videos differentiates it from other competitors.
- It offers solutions to the following business challenges: Employee Retention, Skill Gaps, Compliance, New Managers, Distributed Workforce, Leadership, Sales Growth, Succession Planning, and Change and Uncertainty.
Outback Team Building
- SnackNation listed 21 training and development programs proven to be effective. The training and development programs identified by SnackNation are offered by Outback Team Building.
- Outback Team Building is one of the leading team building, training, and coaching provider in North America.
- The company offers the following training and development programs: Team Communication Training, Effective Habits for Working Remotely, Collaborative Team Dynamic Training, DiSC Assessment Training & Discovering Your Workstyle, Impactful Presentation Skills, Coaching Fundamentals, Conflict Resolution, Confident Decision Making, Emotional Intelligence, Situational Leadership Styles, Authentic Leadership, Practical Time Management, The Power Of Negotiation, Performance Management Fundamentals, Active Employee Engagement, Effective Meetings, Productive Feedback & Performance Reviews, Accelerated Selling, Building Strategic Teams With StrengthsFinder, Self-Discovery With Myers-Briggs, Creating Mission, Vision, and Values.
- Outback Team Building also offers custom training programs. Its ability to design and customize training to suit clients' needs is one factor that differentiates it from other competitors.
- One of Outback Team Building's satisfied clients is Principia. Principia contracted Outback team building to help them build a stronger company culture, and they were satisfied with the company's skills development training.
- Other clients of Outback team building include Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Foresters Financial, and Deloitte, among others.