How to Embed Learning and Development

A large number of companies had frozen their Learning and Development budgets since 2008 and as a result many employees had become dissatisfied that their careers were not being invested in.  We now hear that recruiters are often struggling to find middle or senior level managers with the right skills and competencies to manage real or virtual teams.  As the economic situation continues to improve, according to most surveys, at least a third of employees are looking to move on, but many do not have the management or ‘soft skills’ required for new roles.

In order to invest in robust Learning and Development which aids retention, enhances employee engagement, builds the company brand for recruitment, improves the quality of talent for future roles, and delivers excellent ROI, organizations need to take more of a holistic view of their Training requirements.  Most companies struggle to make their Training interventions ‘stick’ and frequently traditional Training courses become a ‘tick box’ exercise.

In order to create real, sustainable behaviour change and deliver excellent ROI training providers need to work in partnership with HR, Learning and Development Managers, and the senior team to take a holistic consultative approach to their overall business, growth and culture, as well as their TrainingCoaching, Talent Assessment and Talent Management needs. A more holistic approach leads to increased alignment with the business strategy and overall significant performance improvement.

In order to ensure that the Learning from Development or Coaching Programmes ‘sticks’ ideally each participant should be assessed in advance utilizing Personality Profiles, (such as SHL’s OPQ 32, the gold standard NEO, or the world renowned Strength Deployment Inventory) and/or a Face to Face or Online 360 Feedback Process.  These Talent Assessment and Measurement Tools assess current performance and future potential, assist in raising an individual’s self-awareness, and identify key areas of strength and those requiring improvement.

In addition each participant in every Learning and Development or Coaching Programme should mark their skill levels out of 10 against each relevant Leadership and Management Competency/associated Behaviour and/Value, which is also scored by the Leadership and Management Development Consultant and benchmarked against the group.  Additionally it is important that the participant’s Line Manager is involved in this assessment.  Scores should be reviewed after each Training module or Coaching session to assess progress. At the end of each Programme the same process should be repeated.

Participants should also work on their skills, develop techniques, and devise solutions to long standing problems whilst dealing with real life business scenarios to make any Learning and Development solutions real.

Throughout every Coaching or Training intervention each individual should work on their identified key development areas and receive constructive feedback from their Trainer; back in the work environment this process should continue via their Line Manager, a Mentor,  work ‘Buddy’ and their peers. This will result in significant and sustainable behavioural change as individuals receive ongoing constructive feedback in order to embed the new behaviours and ensure they do not ‘revert to type’ under pressure.

At the end of each Training Programme participants should complete a written and practical review of the content in order to assess their progress and identify any ongoing development needs. These results should then be discussed with their Line Managers and combined in to  their Personal Development Plans with Goals aligned with the overall business strategy and with SMART Action Plans completed to ensure future progress.

After 6 months a repeat online 360 is often carried out or an anonymous feedback review with initial scores compared with the original ones.  In addition a separate review may also be conducted to measure the success of the Development or Coaching interventions and may include follow up meetings with team leaders, line managers and staff to review performance against the Competencies, company vision and any Key Performance Indicators, if appropriate.

As a result of the buy in from Line Managers and HR, Learning and Development interventions should lead to sustained high performance, and have a positive impact on financial results, organizational culture, employee motivation, and morale, which in turn enable the participants to deliver improved customer value.  As Kevin Lovell, Learning Strategy Director at KnowledgePool explains:

‘When learners do receive line manager support, 94% go on to apply what they learned. There’s a positive correlation between the transfer of learning to the workplace, line manager support and performance improvement.”


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