How to align training and development with organizational strategy

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It all starts with strategy. It is your guiding light.

Those without a clearly defined strategy spend time trying to make an impact everywhere when they usually don’t succeed anywhere. On the other hand, strategizing gives you the safeguards to focus, learn, and make the impact you want and your business needs.

Your strategy will define everything from your budget to the level of executive sponsorship you need, the skills you need to prioritize, and how you measure the impact those skills will have on organizational performance.

To complicate matters, different departments have different projects, ideas and needs for stakeholders. Conflicting priorities mean it’s easy to get drawn in different directions and lose sight of the larger organizational goals.

In terms of strategy, L&D teams encounter several common problems:

  • Problem 1: Training and development teams do not function like a business within the organization.
  • Problem 2: L&D teams are seen as order takers.
  • Problem 3: L&D teams don’t have an executive sponsor to fight for them.

To overcome these obstacles and create a learning and development strategy that aligns with your organization’s strategy, you need to answer several questions.

Question 1: Is there evidence of need within the company?

This should go without saying, but if a stakeholder’s request does not match a business need, you can decline that request.

The next time you get a learning and development request, take a one-second break. Resist the reflex to take the plunge and respond to the request immediately. Instead, ask “What is the proof of need?” “ By keeping this question in mind, you will ensure that any inquiries you respond to correspond to a larger organizational need.

The good news for L&D teams is that this simple step can lead to huge improvements. According to Emerald Works 2020 Back to the future report, 94% of high-impact learning cultures (defined as the top 10% of top performing companies) report that their training and development activity is fully aligned with the organization’s strategic goals.

By comparison, only 49% of other training and development teams report that their training and development activity is fully aligned with the organization’s strategic goals. As such, top performing teams reap the rewards of aligning learning goals and organizing.

Question 2: What are the needs of my organization?

If your stakeholder does not have an answer to the question “What is the proof of need?” Then other departments in your organization can be great resources for identifying business needs.

It’s a good idea to talk to teams like IT, internal communications, and marketing because they already track employee behavior and offer rich data feeds that can provide you with the evidence you need. For example, they can gain insight into what “help” topics people are looking for on the company intranet, details on performance goals, or the results of employee engagement surveys.

It is only when the data clearly shows a need that your next step should be to explore in depth to discover the strategic value of this intervention to the business.

Question 3: What is my stakeholder trying to achieve?

Once you’ve identified a clear business need, it’s time to find out what your stakeholder is really trying to accomplish.

Ask yourself if they are trying to:

  • Reduce the risk.
  • To save money.
  • Improve performances.
  • Lower attrition rates.

Remember that the request must be related to a business objective.

If you need help locating your organization’s business goals, you can always access resources like recent company reports. Alternatively, it can be helpful to ask the PMO to see what areas of the business they are investing in or even talk to HR and people who study Strategic Workforce Planning to see skills gaps. they are facing.

Above all, don’t be afraid to ask. L&D should use all available information to align with desired business outcomes.

Question 4: Who is my representative on the board of directors?

Identifying a business need and clearly defining the objectives of your stakeholders is essential. However, without leadership representation, you’ll likely spend most of your time running into internal blockages and getting nowhere fast.

Obtaining leadership buy-in remains a challenge for many training and development teams. The 2020 Report on the state of learning Go1 identified leadership buy-in as the “last hurdle”, with 42% of leaders being neutral or not actively supporting their training and development teams.

Yet securing a seat at the executive table is essential to your training and development strategy, and it all starts with aligning learning value and business value.


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