From talking to many L&D professionals I hear so many stories of teams, budgets and classroom time being cut…..it’s sad but, hey L&D, what are we? Have you ever considered why L&D is under so much pressure to deliver with fewer resources? Now you can almost see the tumbleweed blowing through a once thriving department. Seriously, why are we taking this lying down?
I truly believe that we don’t need a budget … What we really need is a bit of gumption and the ability to put together a business case. Easy for you to say Krys….I can hear some of you say.
Your L&D job description will most likely contain words about responsibity for the identification and design, development and delivery of business-focused courses for your organisation. Regardless of whether you report into H&R, L&D, a functional department or even the MD; L&D must understand the business’ goals and be able to integrate them into a learning programme that supports their implementation. You’d also expect that the rest of the organisation would support you in that common goal. Makes sense doesn’t it?
No doubt you already have a passion for L&D, and you will have the skills required, but for you to succeed and to help the business to succeed you need the support of the business. You are most likely to gain support from the business if you have identified (or are addressing) a real need and understand the impact on the organisation. If you can do that, then L&D should appear to be very good value for money! (You know this!) So, instead of arguing about your L&D budget, maybe you should be discussing the value of the impact of your L&D and how to make it even better. L&D, in that light, is not a cost but an agent for change.
Earlier this week we set off for London for the CIPD L&D show, to exhibit for the second time. This time seemed easier, I knew what it might be like. What I was blown away with was, the interest in my session on “The Secrets of LNA – evaluating business alignment”.
There were enough seats for 70 and standing room at least double that. As I spoke, eyes fixed on me, heads nodded and people identified with the content.
I began quoting from the CIPD L&D survey of 2015: “Of the organisations polled only 25% said that L&D are fully aligned to the organisation“. So this worries me – what is happening in the other 75%? Where does your organisation fall? In the 25% or the 75%? If you don’t know or if you are in the 75%, consider this. How would you like:
- L&D to be the change agents for your organisation?
- It to be easy to justify budgets for L&D interventions?
- When there is a downturn, L&D is not cut, but people are invested in?
By analysing the needs of your organisation before delivering any learning or training, you may find the things above become a reality!
TNA? LNA? NA?
Is this all just semantics? Are they just all the same? So here is the thing, if I conduct a Training Needs Analysis, the solutions are always going to be training. It is a little like having only a hammer in your toolbox and so everything looks like a nail. Often organisations who conduct only TNA’s may be either very technical in the learning they deliver, or it could be that they do not know much about the organisation and how it operates.
So how does a TNA differ from an LNA you might ask? So an LNA will be broader in its outlook, the equivalent of having now a hammer and maybe a wrench and a screwdriver along with some allen keys in your toolbox.. The outcome will always be a learning solution whether it is a book to read, some coaching, a webinar or a full blown qualification. What I would love to happen and here is where over the last few years I have been trying to use my Jedi mind tricks (I do know I am not Yoda btw), is when you are conducting an LNA, you ask some questions:
- Is there something happening behind the scenes that I need to know about?
- Is there something missing?
- Is something not happening?
- Is there something besides learning that these people need (eg more resources, better processes, more support etc?)
Those are just a few to get you started. These are great questions to ask if you are trying to dig deeper and look beyond the traditional training or learning needs. For this to be successful though there are some things that you will need in your personal toolkit:
- An air of curiosity
- A willingness to find out more about the organisations and how it works
- The ability to speak the language of the stakeholders and not just in L&D speak
- Persistence and courage to challenge when people just tell you to “DO it” (the training that is)
- An overview of what the culture is like and how the organisation is structured (this can be key in determining how easy it is to get people on board and change minds. For example a company with a hierarchical structure and a blame culture will resist change and pass the buck. Whereas a matrix structure and a culture of empowering, will welcome your curiosity and fresh eyes to see what might be going wrong.
- Infiltrate the organisation so you have your finger on the pulse of what is happening, now, not 6 months ago
Sometimes we may not be able to foresee when we need to do an LNA. Have a look at the picture below to see some of the instances when they can be planned and when not. Try as much as you can to plan in your LNA’s (always thinking about what might be going on under the surface). Once you start doing regular LNA’s and demonstrating the value your solutions bring, it will become easier and easier to get the resources you need to do a valuable LNA and any subsequent solutions.
Once you know you are going to do an LNA, you then need to choose some suitable methods. Below is a table of many different LNA methods. You could start by trying to sort them according to whether they are high/low cost and whether they are suitable for individuals or groups. This is one way to see which methods are going to be most suitable for your situation. You will also need to consider some other criteria, to be able to decide which methods are most suitable:
- Your budget
- Resources, such as people and tools
- Commitment from stakeholders – without this, it does make it harder*
- Size and culture of your organisation
*Read this blog about stakeholder management
So finally …. here are some of the secrets of LNA (I am sure you knew these already!)
- Know the difference between an LNA, TNA and NA (remember the Jedi mind tricks!)
- Choose the most suitable methods (use triangulation – 3 methods to get a broader picture)
- Plan the LNA when you can
- Always keep the end in mind so that you are aligned to your business
Thanks to everyone who came to the session and participated. We were truly overwhelmed by the numbers who were there and also the numbers of people who spoke to us saying “We are in that 75% and we need help!”
This topic certainly seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people and my concern is that if you are in that 75%, you get the help you need to achieve alignment with your organisation. If you need help, then please phone for a chat to see what we could do. Phone Krys on 07952 416530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are at the centre of what you do, whether a trainer or leader, you are most likely to push people into what you want them to do. They may well do things under sufferance but the buy in may not be there.
If it’s about them, they have a choice to accept or not. If you genuinely take time to find out what they need, trust develops. So consider this, if you are a trainer or leader, be a servant to the group, go with what they need, make it about them, not you….gift them your time and the space to grow….you will be amazed at what emerges.
Ok, so this may seem like a radical statement and it goes along nicely with the analogy ,”If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. So when looking for training gaps, all the solutions are likely to be training solutions.
It’s all very well me getting bolshy and saying #DitchtheTNA, but for all those organisations who religiously complete their TNA’s what is the alternative? Here is my starter list:
- Begin with consultative conversations with the right people(this one was Gina Chapman’s @ChayneDaisy)
- Keep asking “why?”, until you get to the root cause
- Ask “So if we do this what will it give us?”
- Ask “If we don’t do this what will it give us?”
- Look at the last two and ask “Is it worth it?”
- In the back of your mind, think “What is really going on here? A dodgy process? A bad manager? Lack of resources? Something else?”
- If you have asked one person, consider asking someone else and maybe using some other methods to uncover the needs: survey, literature search, observations, MI, customer feedback etc etc
- Looking at the evidence ask yourself “What is the big picture here?”
- If any evidence conflicts, dig deeper to find out why
- Ask yourself “Does this look reasonable?”
- List all the possible solutions and look at your budget
- Agree some organisational outcomes with the right stakeholders
- Write some great objectives
- Choose solutions that will give you a great return on investment
These are my quick thoughts spurred on by #DitchtheLNA on twitter, would love to hear your views.
“Freely you have received, freely give…” Matthew 10:8
In the west we are rich beyond the imaginations of the majority of the rest of the world. This BBC news clip echoes this:
On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
And yet, I meet so many people who are less than generous with their resources, time and “stuff”. These are the “small pie” thinkers. These people hold onto everything with clenched fists because they are scared of losing what they have. When they give, it does not have much value and is used as a lure for what they might be able to sell. They believe that there is only a small(metaphorical) pie and they need to keep as much for themselves as possible.
If the statistic above is true, the “small pie” is not our reality. Our pie is big and we have lots. Yes there is always someone who has more…..but we have lots already……So here is my take on “big pie” thinking. We have a big pie and we in the west have a big portion of it, so if we give some away (even to the poor in our society) we will still have lots. Here is the great thing about giving away your pie…..you get loads back in unexpected ways.
So some of you who follow my blogs (and I know you are out there Astrid!) may be wondering what this has to do with L&D……. as always there is a link. I have worked with some pretty generous people who share lots and love to collaborate…. great “big pie” thinkers. I am going to name a few, but apologise if I miss out anyone….
- Sharon Young of Pearlcatchers
- Lisa Price, Clarity People
- Mike Collins, DPG
- Andy Pearce, On Track Learning
- Julian Kettleborough, The Studio
- Karen Foundling, creative coach
- Jane Hirst, Developing your potential
- Lucy Hayward, Freelance consultant
I have worked with Sharon and have been associated with Pearlcatchers for a number of years – great collaborators. Lisa, as HR Director gave me my first role in soft skills, moving from IT training. Mike Collins has been a great encourager in anything digital – he is a real guru! Andy, a client of mine who generously has given of his time to help promote the Learning Loop. Julian, a director of the Studio is collaborating with us on our Showcase event in November for the Learning Loop, in what will hopefully be a mutually beneficial project.
The remainder, I am proud to call my associates and friends, because they give their time, share resources, ideas and support. It is not always possible, as a small business to be able to pay everyone for everything they contribute, so if you “freely give” your time, resources, ideas and support, all of which are free…… you can collaborate on projects you never even thought possible.
Every month I give away a brand new training activity(that I have designed) to my monthly subscribers. Why? Let me list a few reasons:
- I love it when others can use my ideas – sometimes I get to hear their stories about how it went (*see below)
- I love the idea that I may have saved time for someone, somewhere or made them smile during a training session
- I know that this idea or activity will not be my last, so I have “freely received” and so know I can “freely give“
- I get back so much more, not expecting to get anything in return
*At the World of Learning September 2015, I met a Astrid Ennis, a reader of my blog, who came to my stand and thanked me for sharing and told me how much she enjoyed receiving her free activities and my updates. It made me smile and made my day…..
So what would be the effect if we, as L&D professionals all started to think in a “big pie” way? How would L&D consultants benefit? How would organisations benefit? What would it be like? I would love to find out!
By the way, the concept of “small pie” and “big pie” thinking came from my husband Gareth Gadd, who so generously donated his thoughts on this!
Inspired by Tony Jackson and Julie Dryborough, with their #LDbravery experiment, it got me thinking. I am in no doubt, that as L&D professionals we have to be brave, you only have to read Tony’s blog to know that is absolutely true. Who else would put up with name-calling, bad behaviour and stage fright all in one day?
So if we are so brave…..surely that means that we know we are the right people to bring about significant changes to organisations. There are however things that get in the way:
- The value of L&D is not known widely in the organisation
- Senior people don’t come to L&D first to ask how they should implement change
- Stakeholders are not engaged enough to make sure the learning is imbedded
- Resources that are needed are not always available
- L&D do not always speak the language of the Stakeholders
- If it does not happen, they blame L&D
So, if I am amongst those people in L&D who have shown themselves to be brave …… go on…… dare to dream…… what does that look like? Here are a few thoughts from me:
- Challenging key people, for L&D to be included in key change discussions
- Asking the right questions, to uncover the real needs and then demonstrate the real value L&D brings
- Challenging the stakeholders, when they do not support the learning back into the workplace
- Saying “No” when you perceive that the intervention will not bring value or achieve organisational goals
So if you have added a blog to #LDbravery ….. I will challenge you to another blog…. this time to #DaretoDreamLND where you share with all us brave souls what changes you would like to see. Go on be brave….