3 Tips to Link Learning and Business Performance

Picture of a chain with a weak link of tied string that shows a lack of talent management

One of the major components of an effective talent management strategy is promoting the kind of learning that makes good business sense. It’s all about making the link with business priorities.

Today’s learning leaders who want to make an impact understand that learning is no longer simply about one-time training events or well-crafted content. Corporate learning needs to have a practical and meaningful business purpose.

Besides making sure that any proposed workplace training is directly relevant to an employee’s job, learning professionals must see that there is a link between the specific skills to be taught and the organization’s business priorities. Otherwise, what is the point?

Follow these three talent management tips to be sure that the learning can make a true and positive difference at your company. Make the link between:

  1. Your role and leadership
    Learning professionals can and should play a critical role in talent management. To do so, they must earn a seat at the executive table by showing how each learning initiative is relevant to the participants, their bosses and the business as a whole. Training should not be a series of isolated events you can check off a list; training should be highly relevant, customized and reinforced to directly boost performance where it matters most.
  2. Learning and the business goal
    Work with company leadership to define and understand the critical few strategic priorities and how improved skills, behaviors or knowledge will directly move them forward. For example, if reducing turnover of first year employees is a strategic priority, more effective new employee onboarding may be an effective learning solution to improve employee engagement and attrition. If, on the other hand, one of the top strategic priorities is to sell more complex solutions to target clients, solution selling training could be an effective component to improving revenue growth.You would be surprised at the number of isolated training events being designed and delivered at companies today with little link to the business.  You will know you are on the right path from a learning and development perspective when your key stakeholders agree upon the answers to the following questions:

    1. What are the desired business and learning results?
    2. How specifically will the training initiative help the target audience achieve one of the company’s top strategic priorities?
    3. How will you know that success has been achieved?
    4. What business metric are you trying to impact?
    5. How big is the problem you are trying to solve compared to other strategic priorities?
    6. What makes you believe that skills, knowledge, or attitudes are part of the solution?
  3. Learning and the employee experience
    Based upon over 500,000 employee engagement survey responses, we know that continuous learning has a direct impact on employee engagement and retention. When employees are continuously given opportunities to develop and grow, they feel that their company values their contribution and that they have a desirable career path ahead. Engaged employees make up a dedicated, hard-working, productive workforce.You will know you are headed in the right direction in this area when employees believe their job gives them a chance to learn and grow.

Our organizational alignment research found that Talent accounts for up to 29% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  We define talent as the workforce that leaders build and manage to create a unique advantage their competitors cannot replicate.  It includes the ability to effectively attract, develop, engage and retain top talent that fits your unique situation.

Unfortunately, organizations continue to spend (and often waste) billions of dollars each year on training and development for their employees – programs that typically fail to produce tangible behavior change or business results.  To better evaluate and grow talent, we help companies with these proven five steps:

  1. Determine the strategic business priorities and the specific business metrics that you want to move.
  2. Identify the most important current and future strategic jobs, skills, and people.
  3. Agree upon how your people will best contribute to your company’s competitive advantage.
  4. Design a talent assessment, development and management approach to create the value in the short and long-term with a distinct line of sight between people practices and strategic success.
  5. Disproportionately invest in high-value employees.

To learn more about creating a high performing training function, download the Top 5 Training Strategies and Key Mistakes To Avoid

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