Business-aligned learning: the role of L&D – TrainingZone.co.uk

Posted: January 3, 2020 at 10:49 am


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We regularly hear people asking about L&Ds function within a business and where it should sit in relation to HR and the business units. For instance, is it a function of HR or a partner of the business in and of itself? Do the two need one another or can they work independently?

In our view, often when L&D is a mature and established department, it tends to remain as a function of HR. When this is the case, however, there appears to be a sense of detachment from the primary business drivers (provision of services or products). In contrast, when we have witnessed L&D aligned with key business areas and objectives, this close working is usually driven and led by the business areas themselves rather than by L&D.

For L&D to be a partner within the business, they must first and foremost understand the company purpose and strategy.

We see very different imperatives driving training procurement for a more traditional, HR-based approach, versus the procurement of L&D services directly by the business areas themselves. All too often, it feels as though L&D are passive participants in the business, rather than proactive in bringing their services and capabilities to the party.

With an increasing business focus on efficiencies and cost savings, however, competitive advantage being derived through customer experience, and the ongoing pressures of digital transformation, L&D has a real opportunity to take a seat at the transformation table. They can do this by focusing training around specific business needs and by building cohorts of people with similar problems to solve rather than having courses open to all.

Whilst we have the desire to create a Peter Senge style continuous learning organisation, we also must appreciate that L&D cannot be a passenger on the business journey; it has to be seen as a key component within the organisation that measurably supports change and growth.

Generally the spend on training is low only 12% of companies have a budget of more than 600 per annum per employee. If, however, that training improves performance by 20%, reduces errors or complaints by 15%, reduces the cost to serve by 10%, then suddenly the spend per head is largely irrelevant.

In a situation where you can measure a positive return on investment in-line with the corporate agenda, L&D is no longer a cost to the business, but rather a value-add service contributing to the success of the organisation. At a time when some businesses are converting face-to-face learning to e-learning specifically to save money, L&D really does have an opportunity to show the measurable value add and play an essential part in business growth.

Some of the most successful L&D teams are made up of a mix of L&D professionals and people from the business areas, those who understand what we do and how we do it and can translate that into training requirements.

There is also a correlation between colleague engagement and customer experience. By getting it right for colleagues within your business, you are often helping to get it right for customers interacting with your business improving the human experience (something that we call HX), as well.

For L&D to be a partner within the business, they must first and foremost understand the company purpose and strategy. Secondly, they will need to work in partnership with HR. If HR and L&D work collaboratively to ensure a healthy people function that is aligned to the company purpose, ultimately everything else should cascade from there.

This includes measuring peoples performance and contribution. If you understand what your customer needs and how you are going to provide that, you will be able to provide training that directly supports that business purpose. Furthermore, when personal performance measures and learning outcomes align with the business purpose, the result is a positive one for all.

Certainly, some of the most successful L&D teams are made up of a mix of L&D professionals and people from the business areas, those who understand what we do and how we do it and can translate that into training requirements. When a transformation strategy is being shaped, L&D need to be involved early on and those people with both the business insight and the L&D experience will play an extremely important part in ensuring the business has the skill set it needs to be successful.

So where should L&D sit? Its probably the wrong question to ask. Rather what is critical is that whatever your organisational design or operating model L&D sits where it can link closely to the business agenda and where it can best deliver measurable, positive benefits.

Interested in this topic? ReadHelping change the role of L&D by changing roles in L&D.

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Business-aligned learning: the role of L&D - TrainingZone.co.uk

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January 3rd, 2020 at 10:49 am