Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development
Employee learning and development (L&D) is a systematic organizational process performed to improve the skills and competencies of employees. 87% of millennials believe that learning and development at the workplace are highly crucial.
L&D is considered as the core responsibility of the human resource department to elevate skills and employee competence. The conducting of development programs, skill-building sessions, corporate training, and learning activities all fall under the categories of learning and development.
It becomes crucial for the organization to conduct employee training programs to align its goal with the individual to improve employee engagement. In 2018, companies across the United States invested more than $87.6 billion in the development and training of their employees.
Every business develops different training methods and development techniques for improving the skills and knowledge of employees to perform assigned duties effectively. As per Harvard Business Review, companies are spending huge capital to provide training for the employees, but unfortunately, they are not spending wisely.
Based on the latest McKinsey survey, only 25% of respondents responded that training improves their performances. Rest 65% denied the contribution of training programs in their performance improvement.
It is clear from the Harvard Business Review and McKinsey reports that companies are investing a lot in the L&D process to fulfill the needs of each employee and organization. Despite this fact, they fail to attain expected results. Therefore, it is critical to understand the reason behind such a failure.
Why are companies failing in learning and development?
Organizational learning and development is a process of transferring, creating, and retaining knowledge in the organization. Every institution gathers experiences over time, enabling it to develop and share knowledge with employees. However, not every business can attain the same productivity even after undergoing L&D sessions.
Failing in employee L&D activities creates potential risks, adversely impacting the employees and the entire company. Hence, it is critical to know where these companies are going wrong. Here are some common mistakes that organizations make while planning L&D for employees.
Mistake 1: Learning and development at the wrong time
Companies often schedule the time of training on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. They fail to consider that every employee is different, especially when it concerns their learning needs.
Thus, the challenge in the way of companies to perform the best L&D practices is to choose the right time to infuse knowledge. Only then can its programs improve individuals and make them capable of applying the acquired knowledge in organizational performances.
Sometimes the employees find specific L&D topics irrelevant for their current roles. These may be essential themes for their previous or future positions and are of no use in the present moment. Consequently, the employees resist productive learning of such monotonous and irrelevant topics.
Solution: The best time to conduct employee training programs is when employees or learners have a strong desire to learn. The time of training should coincide with the opportunity to apply the learning in the job immediately.
Learning in the workflow is a great idea to elevate the employee’s abilities and understanding of work. Just in time learning is the best practice that enhances the skills and competence of the employee as it enables them to learn during working.
Mistake 2: Improper skill mapping
It is the job of HR to steer organizational employees in the right direction and assist them in reaching the goal destination. It is possible with the help of skill mapping. Skill mapping is one of the modern approaches to building teams. Companies of different sizes do it for outlining the expected and available skills of a team member.
The skill maps work in several layers. These layers cover competencies, company values, functional abilities, qualifications, etc. Assessing employees based on these layers gives the organization its superstars. The only difficulty is to quantify these skills to show areas of improvement.
Each employee has their strengths and weaknesses. Every employee may not necessarily have all essential skills — for instance, an employee good at technical competencies may have poor communication skills. Companies should identify the strengths, weaknesses, and competencies of employees through skill mapping techniques.
But due to lack of cognition or ineffective strategies, the companies failed to realize the strengths and weaknesses of employees. Thus, it ultimately impacts the training plan developed for them.
Solution: Now that you understand the problem, it is time to work upon a solution. In a few easy steps, you can make your skill mapping process robust.
Firstly, you need to develop an objective of mapping skills in the organization. There may be several possible reasons. You have to choose the best fit among them.
Secondly, focus on different roles and develop required skills in them. You need to identify the role that primarily affects the efficiency of the process. Then you need to design critical skills for roles and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the employees based on them.
It will help you to give a clear direction of the area which needs to be improved. Reviewing skills and sharing insights help the employees to determine their strengths and lower down the weaknesses, which is the ultimate training aim of any organization.
Thirdly, you need to develop a skill matrix and apply the competency model. Designing the right skill matrix tool involves evaluating the companies’ needs, assessing the available skills, and identifying the missing skills. For example, the competency model enables companies to plan proper L&D activities to improve an individual’s competencies.
Mistake 3: Flawed L&D content
Companies include enormous content in learning and development sessions. Training curricula are overstuffed and often irrelevant.
For instance, the employee who is good at communicating also abides by the rule to attend the time-consuming communication training. The hours spent in such sessions are of minimum use for that employee.
Lack of contextual information also decreases the interests of the employees. They cannot figure out where to apply the learning and what they have done wrong in the past that needs this information.
Employees need to master all expected skills and learning irrespective of whether they require it. The situation these employees get acquainted with within the learning process may not necessarily happen for a long time. And by the time such circumstances occur, the employees may forget how to handle them.
Based on the “Forgetting curve” discovery of Herman Ebbinghaus in the late 19th century, 75% of people forget the information learned if they do not apply it within six days.
Moreover, some organizations walk on the path of one size fits for all. They perceive that the information they share in training programs will be beneficial for all. Therefore, to accommodate training at a vast scale, they expose all employees to the same standards, assessment criteria, and structure.
Consequently, the cohort of learners undergoes a similar set of courses and requirements, despite the difference in the skill gaps of the individuals. This philosophy is rigid and results in learners taking a long time to build proficiency.
Solution: When you need to design development and learning sessions, remember that an inappropriate course design will adversely affect organizational productivity and act as a speed blocker.
You need to ensure that your sessions are context-heavy and content-light to accomplish your goal of accelerating employee development. You need to design microlearning sessions that take minimum time for employees to become proficient and master skills.
Guided learning and learning during working help to identify the stage in which the employee lacks behind. These techniques also help to deal with the skill gap as compared to the traditional learning system.
The primary focus of learning intervention should be to enable learners to become skillful enough to provide expected, good results that matter in their roles instead of just elevating their task performance.
Mistake 4: Learning for wrong reasons
In some companies, employees have obligations to fulfill. They essentially have to tick the boxes confirming their attendance for the training sessions to display their sincerity at the workplace.
Employees have to sign up for continuous professional development courses to show their bosses that they invested time in training. These companies follow the rule and obligate employees to mandatory attend the L&D sessions whether they need it or not.
There may be two possible reasons behind it:
- Companies fail to realize that employees need to improve skills and attend training programs to gain advantages at professional fronts.
- Companies fail in realizing that the employees do not need specific training. The training will not contribute to producing good results in the future.
If the employees attend training forcefully, it will be of no use for the business. It is just like the formality toward the organization. It ultimately wastes the company’s capital and time which is crucial in improving productivity and effectiveness.
Solution: To make the L&D process relevant, the companies need to understand that people seek knowledge to find a solution to the problems they are facing. The companies should communicate with the employees about the personal benefits of training.
Companies should communicate to employees that they may not need to be proficient in a specific skill presently. But in near times, you may wonder that your colleagues are doing well in that particular area. Then you will feel the need for that training and realize maybe the time has gone for it. In short, infusing the need for learning and development is essential before imposing them on employees.
The companies should provide the employees the liberty to skip training sessions for skills that they are already excelling in to save time and costs.
Personalized training using the latest technologies enables employees to adapt to lessons fast. In this technique, you can develop tailored content, choose the appropriate delivery mode, and select a learning style to train an employee.
Considering the needs of learners is also vital to establish learning objectives and improve the engagement of learners. The L&D objectives of the company should not entirely focus on organizational benefits but also incorporate the personal learning needs of the employees to improve effectiveness and satisfy their development goals.
Mistake 5: Inappropriate selection of learning and development methods
Learning and development elevate the skills, knowledge, competencies, and abilities of the employees. Undergoing these processes, the employee can produce better performance results.
Learning is related to knowledge acquisition, attitudes, and skill-building processes. Development involves deepening and broadening employees’ knowledge to align with their development objectives.
There are various learning and development methods. These methods are mentoring and coaching, self-study, E-learning, team events, personal development, corporate training, work shadowing, role play, experimental activities, debates, discussion groups, simulation games, project study, etc. Many companies fail in identifying the proper mode of training methods based on the ongoing organizational demand.
For instance, to shift to new software, the company needs to train employees. The L&D aims to educate employees about new software and train them in such a way so that they can function smoothly.
Conducting an E-learning session may not be relevant for the company as every employee differs in grasping abilities. The company will conduct corporate training in which they will be trained systematically and assessed afterward to ensure the employee’s readiness to work upon new software.
Solution: Selection of the right L&D method plays a vital role in improving employee effectiveness. The company should firstly realize the objectives of L&D and assess all possible training methods before finalizing one.
Evaluation of methods is of utmost significance to understand the level of impact they produce after implementation. The pros and cons of every training method should be necessarily determined to select the most relevant one that serves the company in accomplishing learning and development goals.
Mistake 6: Lack of creativity in L&D professionals
Most companies underrate creativity within the process of organizational learning and development. The companies do not think out of the box and perform traditional L&D practices that do not produce effective outcomes.
In the present digital age, employees can gain knowledge and information through the internet. Thus, merely transferring knowledge does not work well in L&D sessions. Further, today the companies are facing challenges in performing TTT, that is, training the trainers.
Monotonous and uninteresting learning and development sessions do not develop interest among learners. The unenthusiastic learning and development process creates dissatisfaction among the learners and decreases their motivation to participate further in such sessions.
Solution: L&D team should be creative in planning fun learning sessions that catch employees’ attention. The learning and development professionals should always find alternatives to problems creatively.
The companies should provide memorable learning experiences so that employees can apply the learning in assigned work. It is critical to understand that the employees do not attend training when they are least attracted to it.
Creativity in employee training programs will provide you with a more active and encouraging audience that needs skillful trainers. The motivated learners will ultimately help in attaining the L&D objectives of the organization.
Mistake 7: Lack of training expertise
Training employees is an essential aspect upon which future performance depends.
The companies often ask the superiors or managers who produced an outstanding performance to train the subordinates. However, these star employees may not necessarily possess the ability to understand the needs of their colleagues. Additionally, they may find it challenging to communicate and provide deep insights into the chosen area.
Performing effectively at the workplace is different from making people perform effectively with the same set of information.
Trainers are the experts who carry a high level of knowledge and understanding of learners. They can differentiate the learners’ needs and formulate strategies to provide leanings to them.
Solution: A company should hire the best trainers that propel employees’ careers to the next level by following the industry standards. They are the ones who ensure robust L&D activities for the company to accomplish learning objectives and development goals.
Selecting the most competent trainers and outsourcing the L&D responsibilities contribute to the HR department’s efficiency in training the employees effectively. With it, the company can have the best trainers who are good at sharing knowledge and improving the acquaintance of the employees with the latest trends and technologies.
In a fast-changing business environment, it is essential to have people who can rapidly adapt to the changing business environment. Learning and development have thus become the continuous process to upgrade and develop employees.
Managing, retaining, and developing employees is the most critical task performed by HR. However, HR cannot be continually involved in L&D activities as it may affect the dispensing of other core HR functions that are equally important and cannot be outsourced.
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