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Creating and building a Learning and Development (“L&D”) capability or function ensures the acquisition of skills needed by employees to perform their duties. This in turn enables the achievement of company goals. The development of an L&D function requires understanding the growing needs of both the business and its employees, designing and/or buying the course content, delivering this structured learning to the employees, and measuring the outcomes of the learning.
This capability is sometimes referred to as “Training”, the act of formally teaching others how to perform certain tasks but excludes informal development such as experiential learning. On the other hand, “Training and Development” includes not only individual development but also organizational development (OD) such as team building or Six Sigma, now also more broadly referred to as “Organizational Effectiveness”. The most current terminology covering learning (formal and informal) and individual/organizational development is “Talent Development”, which integrates learning with career and succession management concepts such as mentoring, job rotations, stretch roles, project assignments, etc.
The use of the term “Learning & Development” is used throughout this progression to refer to all activities associated with individual growth.
Learning and development programs offer tremendous value by virtue of their ability to complement an organization’s evolution with similar growth within its employee base. As company strategies, products, and services expand (or contract), new technologies emerge, and leadership changes bring new direction and thinking, the L&D function can bring employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) in line with such changes. The ability for a segment (or the entirety) of a workforce to adapt to such changes is a critical measurement of the success or failure of the implementation of those strategies and changes.
Secondly, learning and development serves as a key motivator for employee performance and retention, meeting the human need for growth, advancement, and contribution to a greater good. Alongside this is providing an employee the sense of being valued enough that the company will make continued investments in their growth and ability to contribute in a current and/or future role.
Understanding the organization’s direction and strategies, how they translate into learning requirements, as well as current and near-future learning needs at the functional employee level.
Assessing the aspects to consider for deciding to internally or externally design, develop, and deliver priority learning and development programs.
Conducting a formal design process when internally developing learning programs, including live/virtual classes, eLearning or less formal processes.
Identifying and evaluating outside experts in instructional design or eLearning from a wide range of providers and types of learning available in the marketplace.
Engaging learners with active content that enhances their understanding and retention of the material, leveraging the most effective learning methods.
Measuring efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of learning and development to provide a comprehensive view of the individual and aggregated programs’ value to the organization.