There is a truism that training and R&D are the first places to get hit when companies want to cut costs. But how do companies get to the point of cutting these areas that are vital to future success?
When speaking to companies I often hear of the intense pressure on L&D to “deliver” and as a result, staff are under pressure to do more and more with less and less. Let’s be clear, no organisation has an unlimited training budget (but if there is one, please contact me immediately!) but I don’t think it is necessary either.
Senior executives have to see a correlation between the value that L&D brings to an organisation and business results. If they can’t see one, then that is an uncomfortable place to have to be because it may mean a skill gap in both L&D and senior management.
You might think the way to show a link is through measurement? Not necessarily. Certainly it is much easier for large organisations to measure lots of things these days using IT, yet it does not mean that you are measuring the right things. You can only measure the right things when you have a comprehensive understanding of your business and the business environment in which you operate. Once you have found the areas, which make your business successful, doing a good analysis at the start, you can then decide how best to measure performance in those areas.
When you have made those links you will need to identify the stakeholders and agree objectives. That may sound simplistic but this is a great truth for many organisational activities – well beyond L&D! Identifying stakeholders is important and gets much more difficult with large and complicated organisations. This can also become problematical in large organisations when people who were not considered in the initial consultations undermine the L&D initiatives. There are ways of minimising this but, again, it’s for further discussion.
So, L&D can deliver! And L&D can be very effective if it delivers to objectives that are linked to real business success.
You can read more about our approach to learning through “The Learning Loop approach“.