Your L&D strategy is more than a plan of what L&D will look like in the coming months and years. It is your opportunity to show what L&D stands for in the business and how it is going to demonstrate that to the business.
The five elements below will help you create a compelling strategy rooted in what your business needs and define what L&D looks like in your organisation.
1. Define your L&D brand proposition
Every L&D team will have a different brand proposition based on the context in which their organisation operates and its learning and performance needs. It might be that you offer depth and breadth or maybe you offer a ‘pile them high’ proposition.
Whatever your approach, you need to articulate to the business what you stand for and how it supports the business. Why? For two reasons: to raise the profile of learning and performance within the business and to show how your strategy relates to both business needs and to the learning initiatives you develop.
2. Engage with the business
To succeed as an L&D team you have to know what’s important to the business, deliver on that and have a process for feeding that back to the business. This needs to be spelled out in your strategy.
So, how are you going to do this? One way is to create a governance board for learning. This is a board created by you that includes senior executives with responsibility for various parts of the business.
Working with your board, you can ensure that your team is addressing their business issues. They can have oversight of your activities which means they develop a much better understanding of what learning and performance could look like in their area of the business. Working collaboratively with the business in this way will ensure that your L&D strategy stays on track and is relevant to changing business needs.
Whether or not you choose to create a governance board, you will need something in the strategy that articulates your approach and commitment to engaging with the business.
3. Engage with learners
It is not enough to just engage with the business. You also need to engage with your learners.
An effective strategy will show how you intend to keep abreast of performance issues across the business. It will also identify new ways of learning that employees find compelling.
Your strategy will also need to show how you will continuously engage with learners, capture their challenges and feed that back to the business.
Our Learner Engagement whitepaper provides practical tips on how your team can build greater engagement with learning across the orgnaisation.
4. Align with business metrics
That brings us on to our next point. Historically, L&D strategies have been very good at describing what L&D plans to do, but without relating that to the wider business. This is unsustainable, as business leaders will want to know what impact L&D is having on the business.
Your strategy needs to explain how you are going to align L&D metrics with business metrics, what you are going to measure and who you are going to report that back to. In its report entitled, Aligning learning to business, learning benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity outlined the seven habits of highly aligned L&D teams. These habits show you the areas your strategy can focus on to ensure it aligns with business metrics.
- Actively involve business leaders in learning decisions
- Use strategic business objectives to determine learning priorities
- Focus on the end results
- Integrate with HR and talent strategy
- Demonstrate business value
- Ensure staff understand their contribution
- Enjoy proactive management commitment
Working with a learning governance board is a great way to involve key stakeholders from around the business in identifying the key business metrics that matter. This in turn will enable you to create a learning strategy which is tied to business metrics and impact.
5. Set out your vision for technology
In a recent interview, David Wilson, CEO of HR and learning analyst Fosway Group, said that the pressure on L&D to go digital means that the profession has to move away from tactical decision making to a more strategic approach when investing in technology.
He’s right to say that much of L&D’s approach to technology has been tactical - who hasn’t bought learning technologies as a reaction to a business need? Your learning strategy can change that. It is your opportunity to change the way you talk about technology.
This is not about detailing the software and tools you will need in the coming year. No, this is about your approach to technology and how it will shape learning and performance for your learners and the organisation in the years to come.
So, set out what you see as the role of digital in helping drive performance in the business. And relate this to the wider business strategy as well as the technology strategies of other functions within the business. By taking this approach you are raising your profile as a strategic voice within the business by telling the business what technology means for learning.
We are often told that businesses cannot continue to operate in the way they have always operated. If they do, they will end up failing.
The same goes for learning strategies. By only focusing on the needs and aspirations of the learning team, the strategy will fail.
L&D leaders need to step up to the challenge - to articulate what they and their teams stand for and how that will impact on business performance and the skills and capabilities of employees.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
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