How to catapult your organisation’s L&D efforts to best in class (well, upper quartile at least)

CatapultThe first in a series of actionable observations based on the CIPD L&D survey 2015, amongst other sources.

Ensure your L&D outcomes are aligned with what your organisation’s aiming to achieve

Obvious? In fact, only a quarter of organisations say their L&D is extremely aligned to the needs of the business.

We could look at the consequences for the majority 75% whose Learning & Development is at best only ‘broadly’ aligned with business needs, but I suspect we know what that looks and feels like.

It’s more useful to consider what the upper quartile get in return for their work to align L&D with business priorities, amongst which is (a) better stakeholder interest from sponsoring directors, who can see e.g. how the training is designed to achieve things that matter, (b) much more enduring and campaignable outcomes on which line managers can challenge and support their teams – the intervention lives on well beyond the workshop days, and (c) budgetary upsides including a stronger case to budget something in the first place, and, occasionally, a decent claim to co-fund the L&D programme from other departments’ budgets!

It’s good news for your L&D provider too; much better to design a programme that has taken organisational goals into account as well as the individual and team learning outcomes. Sure, the benefits of the short-term upskilling will be what’s expected first, but the organisational context provides the overarching purpose and motivation – participants never ask, “Why are we doing this?” when the training is business-aligned and business-sponsored.

Furthermore, the learning is that much richer, inspiring and easier to absorb when the business goals inform the ‘storyline’ that runs through the programme. It’s like the newspaper editor’s challenge to his reporter “I can see the facts of the story, but what angle are you taking with it?” Just as the editor wants to know about how the narrative will be weaved to give the reader a story that lives up to the headline, so the L&D professional wants to know that newfound knowledge, skills and understanding will be deployed for immediate operational benefits as well as strategic organisational gains.

Get your organisation’s L&D intervention into the Top 25% by raising your sights to take in higher purpose goals alongside shorter-term behavioural outcomes:

  • If it’s not clear, find out what your organisation’s main goals are for the next year or two
  • If the answers aren’t forthcoming then you’ll likely find that your subsequent line of questioning will help clarify or even set the goals (and that’s called being a strategic business partner!)
  • Be ambitious in setting the desired outcomes, and spell out the benefits to the sponsoring Directors
  • When it gets ambiguous go back and re-craft the learning objectives. I generally find the most purposeful, valuable, and best-supported objectives are reached after at least two or three iterations – the process of inviting stakeholders to critique and improve until the L&D programme delivers something of value to them is invaluable.

More ways to catapult your L&D into the upper quartile coming soon!

Image courtesy of xedos4 at

This entry was posted in Musings.