3 Practices to Align Learning with Business Goals

Learning must be connected to a business impact.

A clear connection between learning and training initiatives and enterprise value is the expectation going forward. The following practices can help ensure that learning initiatives directly support the achievement of important business goals the organization has articulated:
  1. Integrate learning with talent management.
    Identify the competencies needed to achieve business success as defined by the organization—such as skills required to minimize specific forms of corporate risk or to execute a newly defined competitive strategy. Then design learning initiatives that will enable employees to acquire or strengthen those competencies. To incentivize employees to embrace these learning opportunities, develop gamified experiences, such as badge notifications or points to completion. Additionally, tie learning activities to employees’ time and attendance schedules to ensure that only trained and certified employees are scheduled to work. You’ll thereby reduce liability and risk for the company. Also, boost learners’ productivity (and return on investment in internal talent development) by providing an easy way for them to collaborate and to share knowledge and insights gained from their developmental experiences. Reward those who share the most.
  2. Quantify training ROI.
    Track job performance against the right metrics to show returns on investments in training and development. For example, suppose an organization defines a strategy centered on improving sales performance by training call-center employees to identify unmet customer needs and satisfy those needs more effectively. The company articulates the skills that employees must possess to achieve this objective (such as up-selling and presentation skills) by assessing which skills affect sales performance most. The company then defines quantitative metrics (such as percentage of sales that have come from up-selling) and qualitative metrics (for instance, customer satisfaction levels) for assessing how well employees who have completed training are deploying the identified skills. If ROI in such training is shown to deliver business results that support specific strategic objectives, the company will be more likely to continue investing in such training.
  3. Monitor progress and course-correct as needed.
    Monitor employees’ progress in mastering the skills needed to help attain business goals. Provide them with continuous feedback to pinpoint skills that require strengthening through additional learning or through changes in current approaches to learning. And regularly check how well each employee’s on-the-job performance meets requirements for his or her current role. If performance shortfalls are revealed, identify development activities that could be offered to the individual to close the gaps.

But to successfully create the in-house talent your organization needs to drive talent development and growth, they must overcome two hurdles. To overcome challenges your company must make learning a strategic priority throughout the workforce and align every learning and development initiative behind clearly articulated business objectives. The best practices described above, along with those mentioned in “6 Tactics to Overcome Talent Development Challenges,” can help—as can smart use of innovative learning and talent management technologies paired with the highest-quality learning content. Is your talent management solution able to meet your organization’s needs?