How to Take a Business Approach to Training

How to Take a Business Approach to Training
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A Business Approach to Training Is Required to Compete
Even though executives say that have placed a premium on reskilling and upskilling talent to compete, most Human Resources and Learning & Development functions are still not taking the necessary business approach to training to make an impact. From a training strategy perspective, this is a major mistake. A competent and confident workforce is now more important than ever to compete.

To get the most out of corporate training investments, Learning & Development leaders must embrace a business approach to training. That means taking a broader role leadership within the company, having a corporate training vision aligned with the overall corporate strategic vision, and making sure that every training initiative supports a key business priority.

A Business Approach to Training Is Worth It
McKinsey reports that companies that invest in developing leaders during significant organizational change are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets. We know that our clients are facing increased pressure to impact business outcomes, reduce costs, and meet learners where they are. We also know that L&D must better integrate with hiring, onboarding, performance management, succession planning, and training measurement.

If L&D functions do not directly link themselves to different areas of the business and impact employee performance, they will struggle to remain relevant when they are needed most.

How to Take a Business Approach to Training
Successful L&D leaders design a thoughtful corporate learning strategy based on the company’s strategic priorities and overall talent management strategies. Done right, a business approach to training builds core capabilities for the short- and long-term, measurably impacts business performance, and improves the company’s ability to attract, develop, engage, and retain top talent. Unfortunately, in the eyes of business leaders, most L&D functions are out of sync with current business and talent objectives.

To be effective, L&D functions must:

  1. Upskill Priority Areas
    Prioritize, assess, and align employee capabilities to best execute the business strategy each and every year. Use proven leadership simulation assessments for high stakes roles, people manager assessment centers for middle and frontline managers, and training needs assessments for individual contributors. Make sure targeted skills correlate to what matters most for people and business performance.

    Have you prioritized the capability gaps that must be closed to execute your people and business strategies?
  2. Partner with the Business
    Most L&D professionals find it difficult to have a seat at the business unit table. Why? Because the majority of business unit leaders perceive the training function as taking a reactive, transactional, and administrative approach that is not capable of helping them meet their key business priorities.

    That means L&D must build trusted advisor relationships with influential stakeholders in other functions and work with them to define the compelling business value, potential risks, and return on investment compared to other alternatives.

    Is your L&D team proactive, business savvy, and strategic enough to truly drive business performance, accelerate business initiatives, and mitigate risk?
  3. Align Learning Solutions Directly to Strategic Imperatives
    Learning solutions should align with meaningful company goals and focus on the high priority areas first. If, for instance, leadership has determined that future success will depend in large part upon raising the performance level of their managers to decrease employee attrition, you must determine which managerial competencies are most critical for employee retention, where they are lacking, and design a targeted program that will measurably decrease attrition of top talent.

    Does your L&D function explicitly map learning solutions to key business imperatives?

The Bottom Line
Business leaders are held accountable for business and people outcomes. The corporate training function should be no different. Focus on the “must-haves” not the “nice-to-haves.” The more business-like you can be, the more accepted you and your fully-aligned learning programs will be with the business.

To learn more about how to take a business approach to training, download The #1 Reason Training Initiatives Fail According to Executives

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