Trends in Learning and Development

Trends in Learning and Development
7 May 2015 John Moore

Exponential Training is on trend according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) latest annual Learning and Development survey of current practices and trends within learning and development (L&D).

The CIPD Annual Survey Report: Learning and Development 2015 highlights a number of encouraging trends. For example, more organisations now recognise the value of learning and development and are looking to increase activities over the next two years. However, the report also raises some real concerns about the ineffective use of resources invested in learning and development.

Aligning Strategy with Learning and Development

For me, two of the most significant concerns relate to the lack of alignment of learning and development with business strategy and the evaluation of learning and development. When designing in-house learning programmes, Exponential Training always aims to understand the business strategy before designing any learning and development. What often hinders this, is a lack of clarity regarding our client’s business strategy. Sometimes the lack of clarity is due to poor leadership (which can be a tricky issue to raise); sometimes it is due to constantly changing priorities or re-organisations; and sometimes it is a consequence of a ‘silo-style’ culture and internal politics (another tricky issue to raise).

Unless everyone understands the business strategy and what the organisation is aiming to achieve, we cannot ensure we align our development programmes to support the implementation of the organisation’s strategy. It is only then that training providers like Exponential Training can design effective learning and development programmes and define how they will be evaluated.

Forget Course Happy Sheets

I am not a fan of the end of course evaluation questionnaire which is what many training providers rely upon to evaluate training courses. Often, the feedback our trainers receive is not complimentary, at least not at the start. Why? Because our remit is to challenges managers and to stimulate change in behaviour, attitude or process. Challenging and changing the status quo can make us unpopular at times as it requires us to challenge managers which can mean raising and exploring uncomfortable issues and hold people to account.

A recent in-house training programme for a highly successful sports charity helping young people is a case in point. Having taken time to understand the challenges facing the management team and its strategy, we devised a bespoke in-house programme. The programme involved the use of skills workshops and action learning sets; pre and post programme benchmarking of management behaviour; online coaching sessions and the use of business improvement projects.

To encourage the transfer of learning and development into the workplace, managers formed cross functional teams to three Action Projects. Each project had a sponsor from the senior management team (senior management ‘buy-in’) and was aligned to the organisation’s strategy plan. The projects served to empower managers and required a clear understanding of the organisation’s strategy.

The roll out of the projects will enable the senior management team to evaluate the impact of the projects and the programme on organisational performance. In addition, managers are also completing a repeat of a management behaviour-based 360 degree benchmarking exercise – this will provide measurable evidence of the impact on the management and leadership behaviours of individual managers and the management team as a whole.

Next Steps

Take a look at the CIPD report. Use it to reflect on your current practice and the practice of your training provider and then identify key areas for change. I would love to hear your thoughts on the report and of course if you want to discuss Exponential Training’s approach to in-house learning and development programmes, please feel free to comment below or contact us for more information.

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.

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