This may sound like a strange opening line for someone who has spent her working career in Learning and Development. However, it astonishes me how many of the organisations that I walk into have invested thousands into Learning Management Systems. Why? Because organisations invest in these systems and they never used! With the advent of technology, many of us have access to state of the art video training, e-learning, webinars and a plethora of other resources. However, relatively few people are actually using them! One business I spoke with spent £250,000 per year on learning content for their LMS and only 10% of the course material was accessed more than once a year by 10% of staff. That meant they were spending £2,500 per head for 60 minutes worth of generic e-learning – not a great use of money!
Now, I have no issue with e-learning in principle; in fact, I think it is a huge time and cost-effective method of knowledge transfer. However, I need firstly to be convinced that it is the most effective method of transferring skills and secondly that an LMS system without a supporting talent management software is effective. Learning & Development is all too often dished out without purpose and little follow-up to assess how useful it has been. Rather than development being ongoing, far too often at the end-of-year appraisal, managers will ask ‘what training would you like to go on?’. This is the equivalent of taking your child to the sweet shop to reward them for a good report card. Is that really what training and development should be about – a reward for performance? I believe this approach devalues training and learning as it makes it appear superficial.
My opinion is that training should be directly linked to individual or organisational needs and that these needs should be identified throughout the year during one-to-one’s and recorded using your talent management software. Training should help us overcome skill and knowledge gaps so that we can deliver against our job role or our performance objectives. Alternatively, it may be about building on our strengths and developing new skills that will help us prepare for succession or enhance our career path. To my mind that gives training a purpose and it generates a business case. If people know why they are developing themselves, it will motivate them to put that learning into action.
If we are truly aligning development with business requirements, we should get higher levels of performance. It should give us a competitive advantage in terms of the skills and motivation of our people. Furthermore, it should place a higher purpose and value on taking part in and applying this development. For more information on people development, take a look at our white paper on developing a talent management strategy.