Do you really have an L&D strategy?

Many companies follow a trend rather than doing what’s best for the organization

Do you really have an L&D strategy?

Educating employees is critical for company leaders. Technology continues to evolve, especially in the corporate L&D (learning and development) space and it’s important to take notice of these trends, according to one expert.

But while plenty of organizations are eager to use new technologies, little thought is given to the strategy, says Mohamed Elkhouly, senior director of global learning and development at Amazon in Luxembourg.

“It’s evolving very quickly but sometimes we go with the trend, with the technology, with what’s in the market —rather than what we need in the organization,” he says.

“It’s about improving the knowledge and skill; enabling people to do something differently to change their behaviours in one or more aspects of the business in order to achieve better results,” he says.

What’s the end goal?

In the end, leaders need to find ways to justify spending on L&D, says Elkhouly, by remembering just why it is being implemented.

“It’s all about, ‘Am I connected to the business? And can I defend my strategy if I go to the board or to the C-suite and discuss my L&D strategy and ask for X millions of dollars of budget for 2023? On what basis will I be able to defend this and get my budget?’”

When it comes to implementing a successful L&D initiative, don’t forget about middle management.

Ceridian’s new Pulse of Talent report found that 89 per cent of middle managers experienced burnout in 2023, with more than a third (34 per cent) admitting that they don’t feel fulfilled in their current role and three-quarters (74 per cent) actively looking for a new job.

“Middle managers don’t believe their bosses are supporting them enough,” says Susan Tohyama, chief human resources officer at Ceridian.

“They’re not getting help with their career growth or aid in navigating this new world of work. In fact, only half of those we asked say they’re getting any learning and development opportunities.”

Missed opportunity

It’s this missed L&D that will inevitably cost Canadian employers: more than eight in 10 middle managers say that having a clearly defined career path makes them stay with an employer longer, with 57 per cent appreciating the opportunity to upskill, according to one survey.

For one employer, CCDI Consulting, it had been trying unsuccessfully to find additional senior people to join their inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) firm. As a result, they decided to focus on growing people from within.

“We made a conscious effort to do knowledge transfer of some of our senior people, as well as opening up recruitment internally first,” says COO Zakeana Reid.

“We identified some vacancies and had a number of internal staff take that on, knowing that it was a big-stretch assignment, and then providing that mentorship as well as the actual skill development that was needed.”

Internal movement with L&D

Training and development, new skills and career pathing are crucial to help people move internally and for businesses to thrive, says Bart Egnal, CEO of the communications training firm the Humphrey Group.

To achieve this, the company identified three key skill sets which it offers in training programs and learning experiences to employers across Canada.

But for one L&D expert, Elisa Colak, Oceania talent director at EY, who still has a burning passion to bring out the best in people and share knowledge, they have to adapt to each situation.

Often specialists want to arrive with a solution in the bag, to have all the answers. However, as Colak discovered, that’s not true and it was something she needed to unlearn.

“My greatest learning has been through my mistakes and my haste to provide solutions. There have been times when I haven’t quite hit the mark. I came in with a view that I had to have the answers [which wasn’t the case]. Getting feedback on that was very difficult but the reality is that when I have learnt the most.”

Training the leaders

Research from the Australian Institute of Managements shows that performance and productivity are stymied by inefficient and under-skilled managers, with 83 per cent of employees rating their leadership skills as average or below average.

Colak says the biggest challenge in developing a senior leadership team is getting them to recognize that “they don’t know what they don’t know”. “We need to get better as L&D professionals at diagnosing the problem and helping leaders recognize the problem which we can then work together to co-create a solution.”

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