How to develop a successful Learning and Development Strategy Framework
Learning and Development Strategy framework might not have existed as a phrase a few short years ago, but that doesn’t mean it is not now crucial to the modern business environment.
Time as a person would qualify to enter a field of work and that would be it. There might have been a bit of a refresher along the way but mostly it was a case of learning and evolving on the job and building expertise with experience. And it was like this because considerable change and radical shifts in the workplace either didn’t happen at all or happened at a very slow pace.
We now live in a very different world and a very different era. Change is rapid and sweeping. The momentum behind tech development and digital advancement has been dizzying. Many of us working today started out on our journeys before websites, emails, mobile phones and laptops. We have all had to adopt and embrace what looked like science fiction 30 years ago. And those who do remember the 1980’s and 90’s methods and processes are working alongside millennials, making multilayered, multi-generational workforces like never before. And along with the tech boom entire new industries and services have emerged, new roles, new job titles, new ways of operating and problem solving.
Then we add huge external factors into the mix: world impacting war, energy crisis, 2008-type financial collapses, a pandemic and global lockdown, the impact of Brexit in the UK, climate change… These are turbulent events and ongoing issues that have to be met head on, we ride the buffeting and move on through, hopefully stronger, wiser and better informed for the experience.
The combination of technology advances, the new ways we ‘tool up’ and operate as businesses and major global events applying different demands and pressures mean we have to be agile and adept like never before to stay on top of these changes, to keep up with developments and to be proactive and reactive as required. If knowledge used to last a working lifetime, it now has a comparatively short shelf life and needs regular updating, reskilling and upskilling.
What is a Learning and Development Strategy Framework?
A L&D strategy understands the workforce’s skills, capabilities and competencies in the context of what the company needs to execute its business methods and attain its goals. It also factors in how this progress can be sustained and developed to ensure ongoing performance and success. Naturally a Learning and Development Strategy must reflect the company’s overall business strategy. The two must harmonise and mesh together in a way that builds a workforce of evolving skills in line with the company’s strategy for growth and success.
Great communication and employee engagement are crucial to effective L&D just as much as they are vital for overall business strategy. An effective workforce Learning and Development Strategy is a massive integral cog of a company’s performance needs. Complacency, standing still and inertia will only result in lost ground and potential disaster. We are seeing changes across all aspects of life; cultural, social, economic, technological and commercial and recognizing and understanding these changes is key to developing an L&D strategy that harnesses all that is required to forge continuous knowledge and skill upgrades.
Of course an Learning and Development Strategy must be established within any boundaries and constraints of a business - that is just an operational reality, but a positive learning environment can be created where ongoing individual and group development is part of the very fabric of a business and not something foisted on employees from time to time.
Keeping track of a moving business environment means adapting to changing economic circumstances, the shifting rates of growth or decline in a sector, rising competition, technological evolution, any alteration in customer requirements and expectations and the way they might do business. This all involves a degree of informed prediction based on knowledge and available data, as well as an ability for a company to be light on its feet to react to events as they occur, rather than being entrenched and unable to move with necessary speed or accuracy.
A Learning and Development Strategy precisely embodies this. A business can only achieve this degree of continuous evolution and sustained performance if those working there are suitably informed and equipped.
We now function in what has moved towards a knowledge-based economy where company value is placed on intangibles such as the skills and knowledge of staff and leadership abilities. As a result L&D has taken on an elevated position which also means that vital corporate investment needs to be made into L&D. A comprehensive, budgeted strategy of pertinent training can be among the best investments a company ever makes.
To get this right is to achieve five key areas of talent development:
- Attract and retain talent. ‘Opportunities for learning and development’ is something often seen in today’s job advertisements. The fact you provide this is appealing to those inclined to continuous self improvement and increases the appeal of the position.
- Develop people capabilities. The workforce is the company’s capital and that capital only retains or improves its value through investment in L&D. The returns for companies who invest in L&D and the next generation of leaders has become self evident. Companies that invest in developing leaders during significant transformations are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets.
- Create a values based culture. Perhaps a side benefit, but nevertheless a crucial one. As working practices have become more remote and dispersed, an L&D programme and culture is something that brings employees back together, creating a community, emphasizing common goals and aims.
- Build an employer brand. For any organization a brand is one of the most powerful things it wields. It is its identity, credibility and strength. By running an effective L&D programme and becoming known for this, a business greatly enhances its brand by this facet alone.
- Motivate and engage employees. The best way to do this is provide an environment where they can develop and improve themselves in the workplace. Highly engaged employees are more likely to embrace and strive for personal betterment whilst being satisfied with their place of work and driven to do their best for the company. Everyone wins.
Shaping a Learning and Development Strategy
A Learning and Development Strategy Framework is based on a company’s business and the talents at its disposal. The strategy must support professional development, enhance and build capabilities in line and at pace with a company’s goals and growth, and on budget. Simultaneously this process can build the company’s culture and values.
The L&D strategy should work hand-in-glove with the overall business strategy as, to be truly effective, one has a dependency on the other. If there are necessary transformations taking place within the business (for example as a result of technological change), then targeted L&D will concentrate on equipping staff and building capabilities in this area.
In short Learning and Development Strategy must move in exactly the same direction as a company’s aims and priorities. That seems nothing less than logical. However research has found that only 40% of company’s state this to be the case. The other 60% find that their learning strategy has no specific channeled correlation with the company’s objectives. This might be because of outmoded approaches and methods, lack of clear overall business strategy or poor budgeting based on dated ‘facts’, figures and attitudes.
A Learning and Development Strategy means having a workforce and leadership that is continually developing, increasingly skilled, able to meet challenges, drive transformation, is informed, focused, happy in and loyal to their workplace and firmly on the same page when it comes to meeting objectives and goals. When looked at in those clear terms, why would a company not value and invest in an effective learning and development strategy?
With DecideAct, this is all possible. Keeping track of employees commitment and progress is a part of succeeding with your company's Learning and Development Strategy. Talk to a strategy specialist and see how!