3 Tips to Link Learning and Business Performance

Link Learning and Business Performance

Do You Link Learning and Business Performance?
We have yet to meet a front line leader that does not want to link learning and business performance.  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.

Make an Impact on The Business
Today’s learning leaders who want to make an impact on people and business performance understand that learning is no longer simply about one-time training events, well-crafted content or alluring delivery modalities. To make an impact, corporate learning leaders must link learning and business performance to help move the people and business strategies forward.

Otherwise, What Is The Point?
Imagine learning that does not link learning and business performance or move the people and business strategies forward.  That type of learning would not be highly relevant to the employee’s job, performance or company priorities.  Unfortunately this happens more than you think.

According to Harvard Business School Professor Michael Beer,

  • Studies have shown that only 10% of corporate training is effective
  • An oil company built a $20 million safety training facility but still suffered several fatal accidents
  • Individual development has to take place in the context of a larger change process motivated by the senior team

We could not agree more.

Three Tips to Link Learning and Business Performance
Follow these three talent management tips to better link learning and business performance to help learning make a true and positive difference at your company. Make the link between:

1.  Make The Link Between 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
  • 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.  Make The Link Between 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, attrition and speed to productivity.
  • If, on the other hand, one of the top strategic priorities is to sell more complex solutions to target clients, sales 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:

  • What are the desired business and learning results?
  • How specifically will the training initiative help the target audience achieve one of the company’s top strategic priorities?
  • How will you know that success has been achieved?
  • What business metric are you trying to impact?
  • How big is the problem you are trying to solve compared to other strategic priorities?
  • What makes you believe that skills, knowledge, or attitudes are part of the solution?

3.  Make The Link Between 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, productivity 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.

The Bottom Line
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 develop talent make sure you link learning and business performance.

To learn more about how to link learning and business performance, download the Top 5 Training Strategies and Key Mistakes To Avoid

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Vice President, Human Resources

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