Creating a Learning Culture

Creating an Organisational Learning Culture

or a framework that captures how an organisation thinks about learning can be quite challenging, if for no other reason than, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle.  While creating or providing the strategic direction is clearly the role of executive and senior management, but how these members of articulate and reinforce that message, and what it means, needs to be as clear and as simple as possible.

So how do we create a culture in which learning is valued and promoted and seen as an integral part of the business, rather than just an add on that can be ignored, or not taken seriously.  You need to be able to show how learning functions sit with the organisation and what the purpose of creating this culture is.  As I have said before, I think that I have it a little easier than most when it comes to this as the organisation that I work for has ‘Leading through Learning’ as one of its central values, and as an L&D person that makes my job much easier when it is there in front of everyone’s face.  Having a model which explains how learning fits in and how the organisation view and seeks to create a learning culture to help immensely and serves as a way to articulating the vision for learning within and organisation;

Developing a Learning Culture

A model like this simply explains the various parts of the puzzle that lead to the development of a learning culture.  From here it then becomes an issue of expanding what each of the parts of the model mean within your particular organisation, who is responsible for them and how they are supported.

Chief Learning Officer 2013 LearningElite Awards

Chief Learning Officer 2013 LearningElite Awards

Effectively Funding Organisational Learning

How do organisations fund their learning?

I have spoken about this in other ways in previous posts, but I thought it was worthwhile raising the subject again both as a means of thinking through it for myself an hopefully to get some thoughts from everyone else about how they do it and what is most effective.

I guess from my thinking there seems to be a couple of models that seem to be the most prevalent in terms of funding L&D functions as follows;

  1. 100% Funded by Organisation –   0% charge to business units,
  2. ?% Funded by Organisation –   ?% charge to business units,
  3. 0% Funded by Organisation –   100% charge to business units.

Each of these structures have their own challenges, but I think by far the biggest challenge for all of them is around equity of delivery of service.  In the 100% funded model, some business units who have high need for the delivery of mandatory or compliance based training are going to take up a large proportion of the delivery hours.  In the 100% charge model there are issues around who has training budgets and the size of those budgets as well as the issue of regulatory need.  The problem of course with a mixed model is what should the mix be and how can it be made to be fair and equitable.

Some parts of the organisation will need low-cost training for a large number of people while other units will require only small numbers to be trained by the costs associated with the training may be much higher, then  when you add the management and procurement of  external specialist training for particular business areas the situation gets increasingly more complex.

I tend to lean towards the 100% funded model, simple because it is easer to manage a ‘cost centre’ delivery unit than one that relies on the business ‘buying’ internal training.  It also makes sense in terms of centralising of procurement and administration which is I think more difficult to fund and manage under a charge to business model.

I would be interested to hear what other people think on the subject.

The Structure of Learning and Development

How do you structure a learning and development unit for maximum organisational efficiency, 

seems to be a question with as many answers as there are organisations and organisational structures.  Some argue that it should be part of HR, some that it should stand alone and have its own seat at the big table and a lot just have no idea where it fits.  I am not going to get into that argument to, though a lot of you I suspect already know where I stand.  What interests me more at the moment is the actual structure of the unit itself rather than where it fits in an organisation.

Essentially there are three models for the structure of L&D

  1. Centralised – Where all learning and development activities are managed through a single central unit,k
  2. Decentralise – Where the responsibility for learning is spread across the various departments, units, divisions or regions of the organisation, and
  3. Matrix – Where there is both centralised and decentralised aspects.

So which structure works the best is there one that has a better chance of maximising organisational efficiency in terms of consistency and cost.  I tend to lean towards the Matrix model over the other two because it seems to offer the best opportunity of maximising efficiencies, there is however a caveat that needs to go along with this.  It is clearly the most difficult to both create and maintain.

A centralised approach works well in smaller or single site or single ‘product’ organisations but as organisations grow in size and product diversity the challenge for the centralised approached is to be able to ensure that the various parts of the business are getting the training they require and that a ‘head office gets everything attitude does not develop.

Decentralised structures are often found in conglomerate organisations, with very distinct business units or product lines or regions.  They often occur as a result of mergers or through the development of new business opportunities.  The real issue for decentralised structures is that often economies of scale are not well utilised and consistency of content and delivery becomes more difficult to maintain.

The Matrix model however enables various business units to have a level of autonomy over their training spend and a level of responsiveness which may be lacking in a purely centralised model.  It also allows for great levels of control over organisational wide learning activities and programs as well as being better able to respond to issues around consistency of training content and delivery.

Or maybe I just like it because it is the model we us.

I would be interested to hear what everyone thinks, particularly if some is operating in a model which doesn’t match the three I have mentioned above.

So you need to Hire a Trainer? – Qualifications and Skills or a lack there of.

My recent post on the issues raised by the Review of Standards for the Regulation of VET around the area of Minimum qualifications levels for trainers has raised some interesting issues and quite a bit of chatter, so I thought I might make some further comments around some of the more interesting areas,  and look at it more particularly through the lens of someone needing to hire a Trainer/Assessor.

The first thing I found interesting was the number of people we suggested they either knew of or had experienced the situation where the people training the Certificate IV in TAE (or an old version), had only just completed their own Cert IV, or whose experience in terms of training and assessment was all related to the TAE.  So essentially they had become a trainer to trainer other people how to be trainers.   If I was hiring a new trainer, even one whose job role was going to be training and assessing TAE qualifications  I would want them to have some other training experience, other than just training the TAE.   If I did then decide that I wanted to bring them in for an interview, my first question would be so why did you want to be a trainer, why did you go down this career path?  The reason is that I am not sure how you could decide that you wanted to train people to be trainers without first having been a trainer yourself.  (I might be wrong, but it seems a bit weird to me).  I could understand if their response was that they been delivering non-accredited training for a substantial period of time, but even then it would be need to be outside the training area, because (and again I might be wrong here) it would seem that developing presentation skills, and the like happen as a result of training people, not as a result of being trained.  If there is someone out there for whom the vast majority of their experience in terms of Training relates to training others to be trainers, particularly in their early career I would love to hear how and why it was you decided on this career path.

The other thing that came out of the discussions was the number of people who, had undertaken, knew of, experienced the result of, TAE training with no presentation component.  Where there was no requirement for the participants to actually stand up in front of an audience and present material.  Again this is a situation that I find bizarre;  how is it possible to deem someone as competent to be a trainer, if you have never seem them present training to a group of people.  This is why whenever I have interviews for trainers, everyone is told that they will need to do a 15 minute presentation to the interview panel.  They get to choose the topic, but presenting is mandatory and it is the first thing they do before anything else takes place in the interview.  The reason for this is simple, if you can’t stand up in front of a small group of strangers and talk about a subject of your own choosing for 15 minutes and do it well, then as far as I am concerned you shouldn’t be a trainer.  It is to my mind as simple as that.  There are two things about this process that have always amazed me;

  1. The number of people who look good on paper who are challenged by this process, who ask questions like ‘what do you want me to present on?  To which I answer ‘Anything you want it’s not about what you present by how you do it.  Others then suggest that they are not comfortable with the process, that they have never had to do that before to get a job, etc.  (I usually suggest at that point that if they are that uncomfortable presenting to people that they are probably not right for the job anyway and that unless they are happy to do the presentation then there won’t be an interview.)
  2. The number of people who are awful presenters, I don’t just mean ordinary, run of the mill, functionally competent or even nervous, it mean really awful.  Boring, uninteresting, full of um’s, ah’s and something I am seeing more of ‘like’s’, not confident, and the worse sin of all, given that they got to choose the topic, inaccurate, mistaken or wrong with the information they provide.

Sitting through interviews like this is an enlightening if quite challenging experience, because you come to know that for all of the good, high quality trainers out there, who are way beyond competent and who can create learning environments no matter what their surroundings there are a whole lot of people who call themselves trainers and have pieces of paper attesting to their competence who are just awful and an embarrassment to the industry.

Niche Marketing your Organisational Learning Offerings

Niche Marketing your Internal Training To External Stakeholders

What is your core Business?  For us it is Community Services Activities, in particular crisis support, counselling, Individual support work and Suicide Prevention.  One of the challenges I had when I first came into this role was around how to fund all of the training that it was necessary to deliver (both internally and through external providers) to staff and volunteers.  This was a particular challenge for us as a substantial proportion of our income comes from the provision of services for Government, with the rest being made up through donations and other income generation where necessary.  This meant that while training was both very important and highly valued by the organisation there was a significant challenge around how to fund both a fully functioning L&D unit as well as provide access to externally provided training where it was required as the vast majority of our ‘income’ goes to the delivery of client services.

It became obvious quite quickly that there was a subset of the internal training that we ran for our staff, for example ‘Psychological First Aid‘  that possessed a commercial potential in terms of its content.  It was just packaged in a way that wasn’t necessarily appealing to a wider, external audience.  It also became obvious quite rapidly that given the high regard for and visibility of a number of our services, particularly in the counselling, suicide prevention and mental health arenas, that we were often asked by organisations to come and speak to their staff about these areas.  It was an added bonus that we were also a registered training organisation (RTO).  It also got me thinking that given it was a challenge for us, a fairly large organisation to be able to provide the necessary training to our staff that other, smaller agencies and organisation in the sector might also be facing similar if not larger difficulties.

We therefore decided to look at the prospect of commercializing the training we did internally for our staff, around our core business (and this I think is a key idea if you are thinking of doing this) and offering not only to other agencies within the sector but to organisations and businesses outside of the sector as well.  Has it been worth it; I think that it has, we have managed to build a commercial training and training consultancy business, that while not large, provides us with an income stream to supplement the funding given to us by the organisation to provide training for our staff, which in turn frees up funds for the delivery of services to clients.

So I challenge those of you in organisational L&D units and the like to think about your organisations core business and training that you deliver around that and see whether or not there is a niche market there that you can utilise.  Remember though it should be about that core business, the things that you are known for and are good at, they are the things that are going to give you the best results.  So think about it, you never know just how good your bottom line might look next year.

Friday Linkfest

I thought today I would just throw out some love to some of my friends and some of the great content I have seen over the last few weeks.  Hope you all enjoy it.

Velg Training – If you run an RTO or work in an RTO then these lovely folk are definitely worth a visit, particularly  their 12 Webinars of Christmas

ASTD –  10 Best Practices for Engaging Live Online Learning 

–  A nice discussion on the differences between ROI and ROE

Chief Learning Officer Magazine (CLO) – How to Build a Business Case and Measure the Effects of Leadership Development Programs

Learning Elite 2013 – The Deadline for entries has been extended until 15 November

IQPC Australia – 2nd Annual Organisational Learning and Development Forum – If you haven’t registered you should, the bonus is you get to hear me speak.

 

Thats all for this week folks, Have a good weekend.

%d bloggers like this: