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The Wrong Use of Learning & Development

Updated: May 8, 2023

Where do companies go wrong with Learning & Development? Unfortunately, we go wrong with an awful lot.

First of all, we assign learning & training instead of continuously encouraging independence in acquiring competencies. We should provide opportunities and assess learning outcomes. Remember, learning happens when somebody wants to learn, not when somebody wants to teach!

Secondly, we train people skills they'll never use or they already have. Why? Because L&D professionals don't use an individualised 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 and develop them at the time of need instead of trying to predict the future. Implement skill accelerator strategies that leverage existing resources to develop required skills quickly. Is it messy and unstructured? No, it is dynamic and in line with our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. Get used to it.

Thirdly, no application of learning, which also links to my first & second points. Why do we train people on things that they don't apply and we don't measure? Instead, train with the intent of application and measurement. If you invest in somebody to develop the person's complaint-handling skills, you must spare the time to see it through to implementation.

Lastly, we have no idea who is supposed to train who and on what. Whilst organisations are pretty clear about what programs they run by L&D or external providers, we have no idea who is in charge of knowledge, skill, behaviour, or leadership training. Most of the time, L&D wastes their time on training basics like product knowledge, customer service, complaint handling, culture workshop, and others that should be developed by the department's supervisor or the line manager. Why? Because of supervision of application. I couldn't have 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 other than their supervisors and managers (online resources are different). If you have managers or supervisors who cannot train line staff up to the required standards, you should recommend them to your competitors.

L&D should work with the business leaders and focus on developing leadership skills across the organisation while providing learning materials and opportunities for technical training and knowledge.

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