Make your LNA improve business performance
A research study by CEB Global found only 34% of business leaders think the L&D function impacts on business outcomes. This figure is damming for the impact L&D teams have on organisational performance.
But how do we improve this negative perception?
By starting right back at the beginning of the learning cycle, at learning needs analysis.
I believe that learning needs analysis can improve organisational performance, if completed effectively. In order to do so, it should include three core areas that are all interdependent to one another.
This article will illustrate how to do that through the interdependence of learning needs analysis model. It wont cover the details of how to complete learning needs analysis.
The interdependence of learning needs analysis model.
The model suggests that in order to improve organisational performance through learning needs analysis L&D professionals need to be considering three key, interdependent areas.
1.Alignment with business objectives
Learning needs analysis should always link to organisational business objectives and strategy. Any individual departmental learning should be aligned and branch off from the core business strategy and objectives. If a departmental learning objective does not clearly align to core business objective(s) then ultimately, it isn’t improving organisational performance.
I’ve personally experienced time and time again requests that don’t align to business objectives. Our value as L&D professionals is in our ability to challenge these and ensure development is aligned.
How to ensure LNA is aligned to business objectives
By making sure that strategic business objectives sit front and centre of any learning needs processes or discussions. You can do this in several ways, depending on your approach to LNA.
- Formal LNA meetings – Take the strategic business objectives to any learning needs analysis meetings with stakeholders. In these meetings ask stakeholders. “What can the L&D team to do help improve the departments performance in these key areas?”.
- Appraisal – If you pick up training needs through appraisal alter your form to include the business objectives. Ask employees to assess their performance against the business objectives and consider what development they may need to improve.
- Individual learning requests – Similarly, to formal LNA meetings. Make sure you ask learners what impact will the learning have against key business objectives? This ensures it is considered this before coming to you with the request.
These simple tweaks, alongside you keeping strategic objectives at the forefront of development conversations will ensure learning needs are linked to organisation objectives and performance.
Stakeholder engagement is crucial in achieving organisational performance through learning needs analysis. If stakeholders aren’t bought into the focus of the development they won’t be as likely to hold employees and managers accountable to the transfer of learning into the workplace.
What can you do to ensure stakeholders engage with learning needs analysis and the subsequent learning that follows?
- Firstly, make sure you’re targeting the right stakeholders. Those who have the right level of influence for their department.
- Make clear connections between the business objectives, their objectives and departmental performance. Share with stakeholders the training measures that outline the performance of the department.
- By building their engagement through clear training measures that are linked to performance outcomes they’re more likely to buy into the learning. As there’s a clear business and departmental impact to completing.
3.Blended approach to learning
The final interdependent element is a blended approach to learning. This is important because (as we all know!) learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom or in an e-learning course. To truly improve organisational performance there needs to be a focus on blended learning. Coupled with a clear plan to transfer learning onto the job.
I find a lot of organisations will focus their time on the ‘training course’ but forget about the other elements that are core to improving performance and retaining learning. Such as:
- Job aids
- Process flow charts
- Learning evaluation
- Managers providing opportunities and actively encouraging learners to practice their new skills on the job.
Without any of those elements mentioned about the chance of learning improving organisational performance is minimal.
How do we ensure that the learning is blended?
By having up-front conversations with stakeholders about the impact of not blending learning. You’ve already got them on board by making clear links between their performance and organisational objectives. By using a blended learning approach and supporting transfer of learning into the workplace they ensure that the final piece of the puzzle is in place to improve performance.
The important part is to make clear up-front the work involved; some stakeholders want to improve performance by sending employees on a training course but won’t support the transfer onto the job. If this is the case, make it clear to the stakeholder that a training course alone can’t improve departmental and organisational performance.
Clarity as early as possible with stakeholders and managers about the additional expectations, not just the training course is key when it comes to improving performance through learning needs analysis.
In order to truly achieve organisational performance through learning needs analysis there isn’t just a one-step approach.
All three interdependencies (business objectives, stakeholder engagement and blended learning) need to work in tandem to create an approach to learning needs analysis that truly can add value and improve organisational performance.