When it comes to engaging and aligning with leaders and the workforce, the majority of L&D professionals struggle to focus on solving the most pressing business challenges that their organisations face. Only 1 in 2 currently analyse the problem before recommending a solution and only 25% regularly communicate performance impact to senior management.
Learning leaders from high performing learning organisations start with the business problem rather than with the data. This means that before commencing a project, determining whether it will support the company to grow, make it more competitive through transformation, increase profitability or improve productivity, they check they are in tune. Focusing on critical business problems allows them to successfully connect with C-Suite and create actionable insights, making a compelling case for change and managing stakeholders effectively as well as measuring and quantifying the outcomes backed up by the appropriate evidence.
When we analyse deeper reasons as to why organisations with learning cultures are achieving more, we see 6 common characteristics that leap out, giving them a distinct lead in terms of maturity. The characteristics are the consistent differentiators and they drive them continuously and consistently. These characteristics (highlighted in bold below), allow them to focus on the critical business problems, gathering the right business intelligence and driving a data-driven culture when it comes to making people related decisions. They also support them to create key questions that frame their working habits and allow them to respond effectively to business challenges rather than just react;
- How do we know the business is clear on the purpose of L&D and the value dividend it’s getting from the investment?
- How do we know our learning experiences are solving the critical business capability problems?
- How do we know our learning ecosystem is thriving and allowing people to connect, collaborate and share knowledge when & how they need to?
- How do we know we are utilising the most appropriate digital infrastructure that’s enabling us to be nimble and agile?
- How do we know people are actively engaged and aligned and are optimising and influencing our vision for learning?
- How do we know we are accessing reliable and credible business intelligence and making more informed decisions in partnership with key stakeholders?
The 6 common characteristics are approached consciously and intelligently. They are not on showcased on walls, embedded in under-utilised frameworks or paraded in front of people as they learn. In fact, they are just the north star of high performing Leaders, L&D professionals and their teams who lead high performing learning cultures.
We are often asked, who are these organisations, what magic do they have access to and where can we buy it? These organisations are people just like you and me, they have capability risks like all of us, they have disconnected stakeholders, they have multiple change programs at play, they are all shapes and sizes, in all locations and have varied budgets and so on, but instead of focusing on what stops them, they accept these areas of friction and they utilise these challenges by optimising whatever evidence they can reliably use to build trust in their brand of L&D.
Evidence is L&D’s silent witness. It’s the barometer of how trusted our brand is, it’s the true measure of alignment and engagement, it’s the ultimate stress test in how valuable L&D is. Jeff Bezos quotes, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”, and is something people who lead high performing learning cultures take seriously. The most effective L&D professionals use multiple sources of evidence; they align, listen, influence, enable, engage and improve. They don’t always get it right, but they learn by taking an agile and iterative approach, unafraid to hold the mirror up to themselves as they search for more impact.
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