Can I have that as a half day
October 3, 2012 2 Comments
Can I have that as a half day?
Turning business need into measurable learning outcomes
Anyone who has ever been involved in learning and training activities with an organisation either as part of an internal learning and development unit or as an external provider will have at least once in their career have heard the sentence, ‘Can I have that as a half day.’
It is this question and the thinking behind it that creates a lot of the tension that exists between Training providers, be they internal or external, and the organisations they train.
If we look at job advertisements for learning and development and training roles, the vast majority of these roles are for trainers, facilitators and designers and very few are for administration, management and strategic roles. Part of the reason for this is naturally because of the need for a significant proportion of the Learning and Development workforce to be trainers, facilitators and designers in order to be able to meet the delivery needs of organisations. There is more going on here though than first meets the eye, as part of the reason is also tied up in the fact that organisations in general do not understand what it is that training providers do and do not often view learning and training activities as being part of their core business. In addition training providers often do themselves a disservice by not understanding properly the needs of the organisations or businesses into which they are delivering.
In order to bridge this gap to bring business and learning together, we need to give them a common language and a common way of understanding what it is that each party brings to the table and how to translate that so both parties have a clear picture of the rules of the game. If we are going to achieve this however we need to be able to understand what business wants, what drives them, and what they consider a success in terms of learning to be.
Firstly we need to recognise why there is this disconnect between what business sees as an outcome or a success and what learning departments and training organisations see. If we take an example from Vocational education in Australia, training organisations and L&D departments often talk about qualifications with accredited outcomes from nationally endorsed training packages, 6 to 12 month long training program’s providing successful participants with certificate or diploma level qualifications at the conclusion.
Is this the same language that business speaks; even in areas closely linked to training like HR the language is intrinsically different. They speak of skill sets and gaps, behaviours and capabilities, and the language of business only diverges from there. There is talk of percentage increases in sales, customer retention and satisfaction, orders and production cycles, but little of no mention of qualifications. When we think of it in these terms it is easy to see how deep disconnection can easily arise, particularly if both parties don’t understand the purpose of the other.
Add to this the commercial imperatives of any business to ensure that its staff are focused on their core business, focused in those products or services which create or maintain the income stream that the business needs in order to thrive and grow, where taking a substantial number of staff off the floor, so to speak, for a day or two or sometimes five, is seen a lost productivity, that will be difficult or impossible to cover.
But shouts the L&D person, better trained staff with better skills, will have hire levels of productivity that will more than make up for the time that it took to train them. Often however business does not respond to the point made by the L&D, it doesn’t hear that logic of the argument there are too many more pressing concerns