A couple of weeks ago, while browsing some of this year’s L&D benchmark reports, I was struck by the number of challenges L&D are looking to overcome.
Throw in ongoing transformation initiatives, which 68% of L&D professionals are involved with, and it’s no wonder that many of us are feeling a little overwhelmed.
One of the things you can do straight away that will start addressing the aforementioned obstacles is to refocus on your learning strategy.
Behind every successful learning function is a well-crafted strategy. This may sound obvious, but it’s no easy task; many L&D professionals come to us looking to develop a clearer roadmap of what they want their learning to achieve.
So, in this post, I wanted to delve deeper into revisiting your learning strategy, to start addressing ongoing challenges and deliver lasting results.
Here are three essential questions to help you get started.
1. Is it aligned with the business?
First and foremost, a well-honed strategy needs to be aligned with both business and learner goals.
This means involving stakeholders from across the business to find out what your wider organisational goals are and identifying the areas where learning could make a difference.
By this, I mean the fundamental processes that influence the bottom line: growth, profit, productivity. In other words, the things that matter most to senior stakeholders!
This is what sets apart the ‘New Learning Organisations’ at the top of Towards Maturity’s Transformation Curve, where full alignment results in three times the growth, profitability and productivity of the business.
So, it’s all about getting away from your desk and engaging leaders in conversations about what learning can bring to the business.
Key questions you may want to consider discussing include:
- What are your organisation’s biggest challenges?
- Are there any internal obstacles?
- Where do your strengths lie?
- What does success look like for you?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be in a far better position to start developing learning objectives that align with your organisational goals.
2. Is it lacking measurable ‘SMART’ objectives?
I’m always wary of acronym overload, but for your learning strategy to work, your objectives need to be ‘SMART’ - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based!
These objectives will be the tangible yardsticks that allow you to measure the success of your learning programmes and identify areas for improvement.
One aim could be to reduce the time to competency of your new starters, getting them job ready within, say, two weeks of joining. Or perhaps you’d like to improve the way you measure the retention and application of learning back in the workplace by developing more quiz-style elements to test knowledge retention.
The more specific your objectives, the more prepared you’ll be to measure success. And the better you can grasp the success of your learning, the more prepared you’ll be to show the C-Suite that high performing L&D teams can drive the growth and profitability of the business.
If you’re able to do this, it will really solidify your position as a strategic business partner ready to guide the business through times of change.
3. Is it being communicated effectively?
You can put together the most carefully crafted strategy, but if it’s not supported by a plan setting out how your learning will percolate down to your learners, then it won’t be as effective as it could be.
Recent research has shown that line managers aren’t being used effectively in communicating messages about learning to their teams, so getting them on board with your strategy is a critical step. They can become vital learning advocates, cascading your messaging to your learners to vastly increase the chances of them actually completing learning. After all, 75% of learners would take a learning programme assigned by their manager.
This feeds into what I call taking a marketing ‘campaign approach’ to learning: having a method in place to ensure your messages reach your learners. In marketing, this would be your channel plan; a timeline where you align your messages to the specific channels your audiences are using.
For L&D, this means thinking carefully about how your learners like to receive messages. Just sending out a blanket email to your entire organisation and hoping that people will be inspired to learn won’t cut it.
Instead, think about how and when your employees use each channel at work, before developing a plan to target them.
For example, videos can be an incredibly effective way of getting across a lot of information in a short space of time – I was amazed to read that one minute of video content is in fact worth 1.8 million words, or the equivalent of 3,600 pages of text! They can also be hosted without faff on an intranet page or internal social platform.
But, if the majority of your workforce are often on the road and rely on mobile for their work-related communications, bandwidth-heavy video may not be the most practical option.
By engaging line managers, and taking a forensic approach to data collection to uncover all the channel-related insights you can, you’ll be ready to start putting your strategy into practice – reaching your employees with the right message, using the right channel, at the right time.
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Are you ready to breathe new life into your learning strategy to begin tackling persistent L&D challenges and start driving results?
Download our learning strategy whitepaper to help you develop your strategic skills, align your strategy with the business, and decide what success looks like for your organisation.
Daniel Pullin, Marketing Executive, Bray Leino Learning
A creative content writer with an analytical eye, Daniel enjoys immersing himself in the world of L&D as it navigates a rapidly changing digital landscape.
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