In a summer with record rainfall rather than sky high temperatures, we have seen record numbers of L&D leaders using the Towards Maturity benchmark to get their strategy in tip top condition.
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So far, 150 leaders have put themselves through the paces. What is more early findings show that L&D is finally gearing itself up for change. The research, as it stands, tells us that there is a strong desire to achieve behavioural change, to make the most of technology and to integrate learning into the workflow.
So what is hot this summer?
Here are some of the facts so far:
- 95 per cent want to use technology to improve organisational performance. That is a 10 per cent rise from last year
- 96 per cent want to speed up the application of learning in the workplace
- 91 per cent of L&D leaders are looking to integrate learning into the workflow, up from 80 per cent last year
- 86 per cent want to focus on building compliant behaviours (last year – 78 per cent)
- 83 per cent want to reduce costs (last year – 88 per cent).
There is a real recognition that technology is fundamental to achieving some of these goals — it has to be at the heart of any modern learning strategy. That said, there is still a heavy reliance on face to face training.
Last year’s benchmarking research, Embracing Change: Improving Performance of Business, Individuals and the L&D Team, revealed that 74 per cent of respondents predicted that face to face learning would decrease and that blended and online learning would increase.
Has it happened? At the moment, 55 per cent of programmes in 2016 are offered by face to face only — so far, that is the same figure as last year. It would appear that significant, wholesale change is still to come.
The gathering clouds
It is clear that we are struggling to achieve our goals. Just under two thirds of us (63 per cent) believe that a lack of skills among employees to manage their own learning is holding our strategy back. This is the same number as last year. It is also currently the number one barrier to change. The pace of technological change is also a massive challenge to two in five L&D leaders this year.
These figures tell us a story that we already know: L&D has to change and it is not changing fast enough. How do we make sense of the opportunity ahead and how can we help our staff do the same?
Sunshine after the rain
The process of benchmarking really clarifies where change is required, it identifies where challenges and obstacles lie and what you need to do differently to resolve the issues and deliver results.
In 2015, 84 per cent of those who benchmarked found just the review process itself provided new ideas. We also compared organisations who were actively using benchmarking to improve the performance of their L&D team with those who were not. We found that they were twice as likely to report they were successfully:
- Integrating learning and work
- Improving employee engagement with learning
- Increasing the sharing of good practice.
Benchmarking not just about a pat on the back, a tick in the box or even a formal accreditation. It is all about adding value to business, supporting individual performance, building engagement and commitment and delivering results. It is about getting our L&D strategy fit for the future.
Before you complete any review for the purposes of benchmarking — ask yourself the following:
Are there clear, proven links that the questions you are being asked and the behaviours that are being investigated, will help you deliver the results you are looking for?
Results were at the heart of our first study in 2003 which started to unpick the behaviours of successful L&D teams in terms of the things that really count for business leaders: revenue, productivity, customer satisfaction, time to competency and more.
Change is daunting, but it is a lot easier if it is broken down step by step, into clear, manageable chunks. That is what benchmarking provides — a clear framework that highlights what steps need to be taken, how and why.
The Towards Maturity Benchmark is free to use until 15th July and to take part visit https://www.research.net/r/TMB16-TJ.
About the author
Laura Overton, MD of Towards Maturity.