Learning and development teams are tasked with the challenge of creating training and leadership programs that not only meet business needs and the vision set by the executive team, but also engage employees in their own personal and professional development.
With pressing business objectives at the forefront, it may be easy to overlook the latter, but without aligning with your employees’ personal and professional goals, your L&D initiatives are sure to fall short.
In fact, two of the top five reasons people seek new employment are to grow in their careers and to learn and develop new skills, according to LinkedIn’s most recent Workplace Learning Report. So, if your employees don’t see their own development interests reflected in your L&D strategy, they’re likely to look elsewhere.
The Risks of L&D Misalignment
Think about the compounding impact of learning and development, and how it drives organizational and professional growth. Without the overall strategy aligned to organizational and people development goals, it sets your company back significantly.
If there are gaps in your L&D strategy or your organizational “why,” the environment it creates is one where people don’t feel compelled to care, and your initiatives are likely to suffer. Further, when an organization pushes L&D content and mandates at its people, it creates a check-the-box mentality rather than a positive learning environment.
Throughout my 20-year career working with operational and talent teams on large company learning and development initiatives, I’ve found that the more you make your organization’s learning culture about personal and professional growth, the more successful your L&D efforts will be.
Aligning with your employees’ genuine personal growth must be one of your top priorities as a learning and development leader. But how do you do this?
Discover What Matters to Your Employees
Your L&D team must have the pulse of the organization and an understanding of the needs of its people. There are several ways you can gather this information.
Talk with Company Leaders: Gain insights from leaders across your organization through ongoing conversations you’re already having, by asking for their feedback, or through pulse surveys. Also, ask leaders to share insights related to professional development goals and interests from one-to-one conversations, stay interviews, exit interviews, and other feedback loops they have with their employees.
Build It into the Employee Review Process: Discover insights from your organization’s ongoing performance review process. Consider including a specific question related to learning and career development for associates to answer directly and for leaders to add comments.
Survey Your Workforce: Directly ask employees for their feedback, and consider offering a small incentive to complete the survey. An alternative idea is to host structured individual or small group interviews to learn about employees’ learning goals and professional development interests.
With the information you gather, your team must craft a strategy that encompasses both business and workforce needs. Organizations that tie in the interests of their people to their L&D initiatives help people get to where they want to go and help their organizations grow and reach their business objectives.
Also consider how you can make learning and development a core aspect of each team member’s job, not an extra “to-do” item. The right communication and messaging, and the ability to show value with vision in mind, drive the right behaviors and impact. Through these efforts, you can develop a mindset for learning and continuous improvement across your workforce.
The impact of your L&D initiatives is directly tied to your organization’s growth, which is significantly strengthened by aligning with your people development and organizational priorities. Companies that establish the right alignment with their L&D initiatives will see greater success.