Core Learning and Development Practices to Effectively Build Relevant Employee Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities.

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Wowledge Expert Team
Principal level
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This guide is part of a progression set comprised of Core, Advanced, and Emerging Learning & Development practices.

What it is

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. 

Why use it

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. 

Practice guides at this level

Defining learning requirements to clarify purpose and desired outcomes.

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. 

Identifying the approach for developing and delivering learning content.

Assessing the aspects to consider for deciding to internally or externally design, develop, and deliver priority learning and development programs. 

Designing learning programs that impact employee knowledge, skill, and ability acquisition.

Conducting a formal design process when internally developing learning programs, including live/virtual classes, eLearning or less formal processes. 

Leveraging external partners to meet learning needs.

Identifying and evaluating outside experts in instructional design or eLearning from a wide range of providers and types of learning available in the marketplace.

Delivering formal live or eLearning programs to enhance learner understanding and retention.

Engaging learners with active content that enhances their understanding and retention of the material, leveraging the most effective learning methods. 

Developing a learning measurement process to monitor progress and results and communicate value.

Measuring efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of learning and development to provide a comprehensive view of the individual and aggregated programs’ value to the organization.

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