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  • Szilvia Olah

Where do companies go wrong with Learning & Development?

Unfortunately, we go wrong with an awful lot.

First of all, we spoon-feed people instead of continuously developing their independence in acquiring knowledge. Instead, we should provide information and assess their learning outcome. If they repeatedly fail to pass the assessment, put them on Improvement Plan and make their employment subject to required knowledge. Easy!

Secondly, we train people skills they'll never use or they already have. Why? Because L&D professionals don't use an individualized approach and are stuck on the annual or bi-annual training needs analysis that is always about the past and never about the present or the near future. Instead, respond dynamically to changing skill needs. Sense shifting skills in real-time instead of trying to predict the future and develop them at the time of need. Implement skill accelerators strategies that leverage existing resources to develop required skills at speed. Is it messy and not structured like we all would like it to be? No, it is dynamic and in line with the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world we live in. Get used to it.

Thirdly, no application or implementation of learning, which also links to my first & second points. Why on earth do we train people on things that they don't apply and we don't measure? Waste of energy. Instead, train with the intent of application and measurement. If you invest in somebody to develop the person's complaint handling skill, you must spare the time to see it through to implementation. But there is a significant problem with that so, let's look at what it is.

Lastly (for now, as we have more where we go wrong), we have no idea who is supposed to train who and on what. Whilst, organizations are pretty anal about what programs they run by L&D or by external providers, we have no idea who is in charge of knowledge, skill, behaviour, or leadership training. Most of the time, L&D is wasting their time on training basics like product knowledge, soft skills like customer service, complaint handling, culture workshop, and others that should be developed by the supervisor or the line manager within the department. Why? Because of supervision of application. I couldn't have had imagined anybody coming to train my staff when I managed my department. I refused L&D many times because I was in charge of their performance, so I trained them. Or at least I had to be involved in what they are trained for to supervise implementation. Entry-level colleagues should not be trained by anybody else than their supervisors and managers (online resources are different). If you have managers or supervisors that cannot train line staff up to the required standards, well, you should recommend them to your competitors.

L&D should work together with the business leader and purely focus on the development of leadership skills across the organization. This way it can make a significant impact on its dynamics, and its employees.

So, review what your L&D is doing. If they are wasting time on knowledge training that can easily be solved by providing content, or delivering training that they don't measure or supervise the application of, you need to have a chat. If your L&D is not focused on leadership skill development up to the organization's highest level, then ask yourself the question, "What on earth are they doing?".

The bottom line is, using your L&D smartly will help your bottom line.

Do you need help restructuring the activities of your L&D? Drop us an email.

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