3 ways learning and development programs come unstuck

Training and development needs to be more than just workshops delivering death by PowerPoint, with very limited effect back on the job

Most organisations are not translating the theory into practice with L&D programs, and there are three notable areas where most companies commonly fail in this area, according to an L&D expert.

The first challenge of learning and development is engaging participants before and after face-to-face learning, so learning can be highly impactful and bring about real behavioural change, on-the-job, said Gary Lear, chairman and cofounder of Development Beyond Learning (DBL).

The second most common challenge is engaging not only the learner, but their managers, coaches and senior leaders as well.

The third challenge is showing the return on investment (ROI) on development and training, and measuring learning and development progress.

“What we tend to see most often is training initiatives that focus on training days and face-to-face learning (or the 10 per cent of the 70/20/10 model),” he said.

“However to really enlighten and engage participants, it should not stop there. We all know that the majority of learning and development happens on-the-job, however the reality is that organisations are not translating the theory into practice.

“Training and development needs to be more than just workshops delivering death by PowerPoint, with very limited effect back on the job,” said Lear.

Future learning and development trends
While technological advances have and continue to change the world, however, Lear said one of the slowest movers in this area seems to be education.

“If you look at ASQA their rules don’t allow for technology to move forward in the area of education,” he said.

“Some universities have locked themselves into Moodle and other similar delivery platforms, which were new five years ago.

“They now find it hard to move away to new and more innovative platforms.”

However in the next 3-5 years, Lear predicted much bigger, broader changes and he said innovative training providers will force change on the slow movers.

“With a broader vision, I see development moving away from the classroom, to on-the-job learning, and the reinvigoration of coaching that links to online delivery,” he said.

“I also see the movement from facilitator lead programs to manager engaged programs, where managers on-the-job are given the resources and teaching to assist their team members to develop, however not from their own ideas but through organisation-wide programs where they learn first then all managers deliver a consistent message and level of development across the organisation.”

He also said the rise of the Millennial generation is something that cannot be ignored.

By 2025, Millennials will represent 75 per cent of the workforce, while 27 per cent are currently managers, 5 per cent are in senior management, 2 per cent are executives, and in the next 10 years, 47 per cent want to be in management or senior management positions.

“In the near future Millennials will occupy the majority of leadership positions in the world, be it in business, academia, government, or in the non-profit sector. But are they ready to lead?” he said.

“New generations need new strategies and engaging Millennials in the workplace needs to be tackled differently – they are used to, and want, feedback constantly, they expect and need to be stimulated and engaged in their own development.”

Millennials are highly tech savvy and have high expectations for learning platforms and online engagement, and Lear said this change in itself will bring about change in the way training is delivered.

How HR can drive strategy through learning and development
There are a number of methods that organisations can use to try to overcome these shortcomings, Lear said.

However, if organisations are serious about learning and development and want to bring about real change, he said organisations need to:

  • Challenge the status quo. Find new and more effective ways of engaging people in their development
  • Bring learning back onto the job
  • Encourage and assist managers, coaches and supervisors to take part in the development of people in their organisation.
  • Be able to track and measure development progress.

With this in mind, Lear say the first thing HR executives need to do is to look at new ways of delivering training.

“Yesterday I was at a meeting, and in a casual conversation I was having with one of the other training providers present, I was told they had a client that they had been working with for 10 years and they were still running the very same program.

“The provider themselves said the program was now very weak in delivering any change, however as they had never been asked to change it, ‘why should I?’ was the comment,” he said.

This mindset is all too common, according to Lear, who said that in the above instance the training provider and the HR executive were taking the easy way out.

“Times have changed, and delivery methods have too,” he said.

“So my advice is for the HR professional to challenge the status quo within your organisation and be open to new ideas.

“If you get a call and someone says they have something new and it sounds interesting invite them in and spend 30 minutes to see what is available.

“You will be surprised how easy it is to improve your programs. You might also save yourself some money.”

Image source: iStock