Linking Learning to Performance

learning and strategy at edopp
04 Mar 2017

What are your company’s strengths? What do your employees do best? Your ability to identify your company’s capabilities and execute them to the fullest likely results in peak performance.

Finding the link between effective learning and development programs for employees and performance improvement is reminiscent of trying to solve Rubik’s Cube. As you make moves toward achieving uniform colors on all sides of the cube – or fully developing your capabilities – you likely have spent significant time and energy getting a uniform color on one side while the remaining sides are jumbled. Still, developing capabilities is not an impossible task but a rigorous pursuit of excellence on a variety of levels.

According to learning and development firm KS Systems of Austin, an organization’s capabilities are at the core of how well it performs. KS recognizes six capabilities for peak performance: structure (integrating learning with company leadership); roles and collaborative mechanisms (how well teams work together efficiently); processes and tools (creating a culture of learning); leadership (learning at all levels of the company); people and engagement (motivating employees to reach their potential); and culture and change (gaining flexibility and maintaining adaptability). Ideally, employees who excel at these capabilities contribute to a company’s performance at the highest levels, but the reality is that capabilities and performance are often misaligned.

The reality is firm capabilities and performance are often misaligned. Click To Tweet

At minimum, companies recognize that building capabilities is an important first step in improving performance. According to a 2010 McKinsey Global study, 58 percent of executives say building capabilities is among their company’s top three priorities.

Why it is important is another matter. The McKinsey study points out company culture is cited as a more significant reason among companies focusing on their capabilities than for competitive reasons. If the focus shifts to the latter, the study says, companies stand to gain a stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace, and identify metrics that better reveal what those capabilities are. According to McKinsey, about a third of the companies that considered building capabilities a top-three priority expressed having an actual plan to develop them.

Building firm capabilities is an important first step in improving performance. Click To Tweet

For any company looking to improve performance, building capabilities is easier said than done. Below are some tips for integrating learning into your organizational capability:

Structure: Learning and development departments are often a small component of the HR team and may not have the visibility needed to affect employee learning and change. Therefore, L&D should be strategically aligned with C-Suite executives or report directly to them. Any change in the organization affects its people, and the sole role of L&D is in supporting the productivity and performance of its people.

Roles and collaborative mechanisms: L&D should not be viewed as a single unit, but as a conduit to bridge and lead cross-functional teams. L&D must act as consultants to achieve learning goals for every department within the organization. L&D must translate departmental performance goals into learning plans.

Processes and tools: L&D must create a learning culture using processes and tools for gathering feedback from employees, developing customized content, and facilitating learning with multiple modalities.  Going beyond a learning management system (LMS), L&D must develop specific learning processes that add value to the organization’s greatest asset – people (ex. reinventing employee orientation and onboarding to include soft-skills training based upon corporate values).

Leadership: L&D must drive learning across multiple levels of leadership. Learning is often created for executives.  However, learning opportunities must also include middle managers and professionals seeking management positions. The learning of leadership must be multidimensional and inclusive in order to strengthen the organization’s talent pipeline and close the skills gap at the top. In addition, L&D must invest to become learning leaders in order to champion leadership performance and effectiveness.

L&D must invest to become learning leaders #learning #learningdev Click To Tweet

People and engagement: L&D has the opportunity to inspire and motivate employees to reach their potential. L&D must communicate the value of learning and help employees take ownership of learning. This means learning must be communicated during the recruitment and retention of employees. L&D must make learning engaging by becoming learner-centric and involving employees in the planning of classes.

Culture and change:

Every organization must be adaptable and flexible in today’s economy. Therefore, L&D must be adaptable and flexible to the needs of the changing workforce.  L&D must gather data on employee preferences and trends to make better decisions on course offerings. L&D must be a force in shaping the organization’s culture. L&D must be attuned to organizational changes in order to align learning priorities to company strategy.

L&D must be adaptable and flexible to the needs of the changing #workforce. Click To Tweet

edOpp Solutions is committed to learning that leads to increased productivity and better work environments. We strive for results that are not just incremental but transformative in changing processes and strengthening organizational capabilities for the betterment of all executives, managers and employees involved in improving their company’s performance.