Learning and development (L&D) wants to measure business impact, but only a small percentage of learning and development (L&D) leaders know what and how to measure. Even if they do, odds are they don't have in-house data skills, so their tools go unused.
CEOs voice their concern about skills for the future—not just technical skills, but the ability to work socially in the digital world. 79% of CEOs believe a lack of essential skills threatens the future growth of their organization.
CEOs want results and assurance that learning and development (L&D) is impacting preparation of the workforce for the present and future, but barriers remain. The problem isn't learning measurement—it's perceptions of L&D's role in the business.
Learning and development (L&D) may have reached a crossroads where, in each organization, it will either become an integral part of the business or go extinct. We saw this happen to a few during the 2008 recession.
The few cases we saw were training departments that had become "order takers." The business told them what it wanted, and Training produced—or it didn't, and the requester found another resource. When it came time to cut budgets, Training got the ax.
When learning and development (L&D) needs right now is the ability to work collaboratively across the organization and to do business the way the organization does, working "socially in the digital world." Collaboration is the first step in building the skills and models to both develop impactful learning and measure its impact.
That's why, in our learning and development (L&D) delivery models, the first step in any project is to build a cross-functional team. L&D can't operate as a back-office service provider and help the business become successful. You must team with business process owners to make them successful. The first collaboration should be an alliance with Marketing.
L&D Partnership with Marketing
It wasn't so long ago that learning in marketing or separate functions. Marketing served an external audience and learning was internal.
Today, learning and development (L&D) can work with marketing on things like content design and campaign-based delivery. Marketing is a long history of using data on human behavior to drive customer engagement. While the aim may be different, the social behavior aspects of both customer and learning engagement are the same.
Knowing how marketing gets this done can help you understand how to do the same in learning. You could even use marketing's web analytics tools to get a deep understanding of the way people behave in online learning and on the job.
Working with Marketing enables you to create and measure a data-rich environment both inside and outside your LMS.
Your marketing teams also have the expertise to communicate with people in a way that motivates them to take action.
Unfortunately, many learning and development (L&D) teams don't communicate well or often. Marketing can help you get away from "corporate-speak" and interact with your people in a way that creates relationships.
For example, L&D pros only spend 9% of the time championing learning programs to executives. Only 27% say their CEOs are active champions of learning. Those results speak for themselves. Getting your executives involved in workforce development can pay off in a big way.
Marketing and HR, including learning and development (L&D), can also partner to grow the company brand.
Working with HR
Marketing and HR work together to hire and develop the best talent to create and deliver the company brand message and to create a unified message that applies to employees, applicants, and customers.
Learning and development (L&D) partners with recruiting, talent management, succession planning, and employee services to provide training, self-directed learning, and development at every stage in the employee lifecycle. You can make it all work together to support and deliver the employer brand it every touchpoint.
L&D Partnership with Finance
You can build your alliance with Finance by starting with the person who supports your financial operations. That will open up a channel of communication with the CFO.
Your representative brings to the table financial acumen, an insider perspective on budgeting, and expertise on how to prepare reports that get the CFO's attention.
Working with KPI or OKR Owners
For any learning and development (L&D) initiative, your most important relationship is with the leaders who own the business result. Begin the relationship by understanding their challenges and frustrations. As you learn what drives them, you can uncover opportunities where you can add unique value. That will be the basis of your partnership.
In return, when you complete a project, you can ask the critical question: How did the program improve your results, and by how much?
You may need to listen to complaints about how learning and development (L&D) has failed. The best approach is to acknowledge the feedback and show, over time, how you can provide better service based on advances in learning science, technology, and best practices.
Every person in your organization has a stake in learning and development. You can build on that by creating a collaborative working relationship, letting their needs drive your agenda. It will take a lot of work, and you may not see quick results, but the payoff will be that the people in your organization will come to understand how important it is.
Once you create that mindset, it will be time to introduce the concept of organization-wide learning governance, where your organization and its people take on learning as a lifelong joint endeavor.