As the nature of work, the worker and the workforce continue to change, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that your organisation’s learning and development (L&D) strategy gives maximum results at the lowest possible cost.
As there are so many courses, training providers, methods and options to explore, HR leaders are faced with a greater challenge – how to choose the right programme for employees’ L&D needs to ensure productivity and build capabilities that can meet the organisation’s needs.
Here are five sure-proof ways to achieve that:
- Realign your learning and development strategy to the overall business goals. With goals identified and success criteria already defined, and the consistent challenge of budget, time and resources, you want to be sure that efforts are directed to areas where it matters the most. This means that training goals and objectives should be prioritised around key business themes to ensure business results are achieved.
- Assess which skills are required for each employee’s growth and development. The purpose of learning and development is to upskill and reskill employees to improve business performance. So, to assess your employees’ skills development, you have to know what skills and abilities they should have for their job roles, and those they need to cultivate. This process requires that you undertake a skills gaps assessment and understand employees’ needs, where they currently stand in their skills and where they want to be. What do they need to do and learn to get there? Of course, this has to be in alignment with the KPIs or OKRs already set for each employee.
- Finding the best fit/choosing the actual programme. This is probably the hardest part. With learning and development (L&D) practices evolving from instructor-led, face-to-face training towards a wider focus, organisations are spoilt for choice. Selecting the appropriate programme for each need will then depend on organisational priorities, budget and required expectations, data gathered on the effectiveness of previous learning interventions, the complexity of knowledge and performance targets. They include:
- Shadowing: Provides the most effective option when you want to change a behavioural skill, competency, or enable new behaviours. It is also a cost-effective way to learn skills from employees with much more experience without overwhelming them with mentoring programs or long training sessions. Job shadowing can be very useful for cross-training and induction of recruits.
- On-the-job training: Typically, on-the-job training is learning through observing and/or being assisted by a colleague with more experience in performing a task. This method may prove most useful where budget allocation is minimal and is immediately relevant to basic job needs. However, work colleagues or line managers who do the training need to ensure that trainees can practise what they have learned immediately to reinforce learnt skills.
- In-house development programmes (coaching/mentoring): In-house programmes are often used for management or leadership development activities. It can be based on one-to-one discussions to enhance an employee’s hard and soft skills, knowledge or work performance – often for the current job, but also to support career transitions.
- Job rotation, project work, secondment: Job rotation and secondment (temporary loan of an employee to another department, external organisation or role, often for a particular project) is useful in supporting employees to develop the skills and competencies required for moving to new or higher-level roles.
- Formal courses are used when the other options have been exhausted. Apart from looking at the type of course, training outline and service provider, don’t forget to thoroughly look for reviews. It is not enough to use best practices or fall for brand names when selecting programme providers. Ultimately, only the results count.
In some cases, a mix of these different approaches may be what is needed to meet your organisation’s objectives. An experienced service provider will be able to identify this early on, and it is something that HR teams should also be open to.
- Ensure programmes are customised and fit directly to the goals and learning styles of the employees. Different employees have different ways they learn best. They also need to be able to relate any learning activity to their unique context. For example, an employee may like self-directed learning such as reading or watching videos, but to master a practical skill, they have to practise it! Balance is needed.
- Measure and iterate as much as possible. Knowing how successful or unsuccessful your training programme is helps you make the connections between learning and results. You have to ask what performance indicators (KPIs) you’re looking to impact with your training. They also have to be SMART, particularly to be ‘specific and measurable.’ e.g., a certain percentage of increased sales, or a defined number of repeat customers. You can’t afford to waste significant costs on projects that don’t produce results, hence, it is important to approach L&D with an agile mindset.
Choosing the right learning and development programme requires careful consideration at every stage of the journey. With the commitment of leadership and L&D teams to developing and improving employees’ performance, choosing the right programme type and delivery partner will be key elements in selecting an intervention that delivers maximum value for all stakeholders.
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