L&D – are you what you measure?

TM blogs #1This is the first in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. David presented around an infographic, part of which is displayed to the left. What fascinated me were some of the statistics in this segment.

In the report, the survey showed that 17% of those polled, measure business metrics to improve business performance, but 86% would like to improve business performance. That is a huge mismatch and it got me thinking “Why then, if the will is there, people do not measure L&D’s performance against business metrics?”

So I have a theory and it all stems from “Begin with the end in mind”. It is all very well to have a great intention of “improving business performance” and a whopping 86% of the respondents wanted this, but you have to start off on the right foot. At the beginning you have to do the right kind of analysis to determine the needs and the outputs, making sure that there is in fact a strong link between them. Then you need to:

  • Identify those people who have a stake in improving the business
  • Of those stakeholders, identify where they are on the stakeholder analysis grid, that way you know where to focus your efforts
  • Be part of the business and have your finger on the pulse, so you always get the bigger picture
  • Ask questions about organisational benefits and impact, not just learning outcomes
  • Do a thorough needs analysis (not just an LNA or TNA) to uncover what individuals, teams and the organisation needs
  • Set objectives with the stakeholders and have targets that THEY can measure success against
  • Agree post learning activities and follow up
  • Keep them up to date with what is going on and get them to support the learners
  • Check in at various points and update them on progress
  • Ask the stakeholders how the measures put in place are stacking up

I’ve written before about “Needs Analysis” and spoken about it at the CIPD L&D exhibition in May 2016 – what surprised me was the number of people that are REALLY interested in this topic! The last point in the list, is a crucial one, because another reason I believe only 17% measure business metrics in evaluation is that the best people to do the measuring are those who are most interested in those metrics and have EASY access to them!!! Is that a little too obvious?

Now L&D does not sit in some sort of vacuum or at least it shouldn’t. L&D is an important and necessary part of any successful businesses strategy – and if it isn’t we should be asking ourselves “why?” and “what can we do to become essential and not just a cost?” If you are not conducting a needs analysis that involves the correct stakeholders and using or developing metrics then what are you doing?

This is what David Hayden, L&D Professional at the CIPD said about the statistics:

“The challenge of 17% only measuring demonstrates it can be a massive challenge and rethink on what we measure.  My advice is to start small and build up – pick one or two projects or interventions and work on the business metric links for those – and make it explicit in any pre intervention communication, during the intervention at regular points and in any post intervention communication.  Become known for knowing the business goals!! Be that role model!”

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
― H. James Harrington

Hey L&D, what are we? L&D doesn’t need a budget, it needs…

tumbleweedFrom talking to many L&D professionals I hear so many stories of teams, budgets and classroom time being cut…..it’s sad but, hey L&D, what are we? Have you ever considered why L&D is under so much pressure to deliver with fewer resources? Now you can almost see the tumbleweed blowing through a once thriving department. Seriously, why are we taking this lying down?

I truly believe that we don’t need a budget … What we really need is a bit of gumption and the ability to put together a business case. Easy for you to say Krys….I can hear some of you say.

Your L&D job description will most likely contain words about responsibity for the identification and design, development and delivery of business-focused courses for your organisation. Regardless of whether you report into H&R, L&D, a functional department or even the MD; L&D must understand the business’ goals and be able to integrate them into a learning programme that supports their implementation. You’d also expect that the rest of the organisation would support you in that common goal. Makes sense doesn’t it?

No doubt you already have a passion for L&D, and you will have the skills required, but for you to succeed and to help the business to succeed you need the support of the business. You are most likely to gain support from the business if you have identified (or are addressing) a real need and understand the impact on the organisation. If you can do that,  then L&D should appear to be very good value for money! (You know this!) So, instead of arguing about your L&D budget, maybe you should be discussing the value of the impact of your L&D and how to make it even better. L&D, in that light, is not a cost but an agent for change.

 

 

The Secrets of LNA shared ….at Olympia #cipdldshow

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 12.59.36Earlier this week we set off for London for the CIPD L&D show, to exhibit for the second time. This time seemed easier, I knew what it might be like. What I was blown away with was, the interest in my session on “The Secrets of LNA – evaluating business alignment”.

There were enough seats for 70 and standing room was easily the same, if not more. As I spoke, eyes fixed on me, heads nodded and people identified with the content.

I began quoting from the CIPD L&D survey of 2015: “Of the organisations polled only 25% said that L&D are fully aligned to the organisation“. So this worries me – what is happening in the other 75%? Where does your organisation fall? In the 25% or the 75%? If you don’t know or if you are in the 75%, consider this. How would you like:

  • L&D to be the change agents for your organisation?
  • It to be easy to justify budgets for L&D interventions?
  • When there is a downturn, L&D is not cut, but people are invested in?

By analysing the needs of your organisation before delivering any learning or training, you may find the things above become a reality!

TNA? LNA? NA?

Is this all just semantics? Are they just all the same? So here is the thing, if I conduct a Training Needs Analysis, the solutions are always going to be training. It is a little like having only a hammer in your toolbox and so everything looks like a nail. Often organisations who conduct only TNA’s may be either very technical in the learning they deliver, or it could be that they do not know much about the organisation and how it operates.

So how does a TNA differ from an LNA you might ask? So an LNA will be broader in its outlook, the equivalent of having now a hammer and maybe a wrench and a screwdriver along with some allen keys in your toolbox.. The outcome will always be a learning solution whether it is a book to read, some coaching, a webinar or a full blown qualification. What I would love to happen and here is where over the last few years I have been trying to use my Jedi mind tricks (I do know I am not Yoda btw), is when you are conducting an LNA, you ask some questions:

  • Is there something happening behind the scenes that I need to know about?
  • Is there something missing?
  • Is something not happening?
  • Is there something besides learning that these people need (eg more resources, better processes, more support etc?)

Those are just a few to get you started. These are great questions to ask if you are trying to dig deeper and look beyond the traditional training or learning needs. For this to be successful though there are some things that you will need in your personal toolkit:

  • An air of curiosity
  • A willingness to find out more about the organisations and how it works
  • The ability to speak the language of the stakeholders and not just in L&D speak
  • Persistence and courage to challenge when people just tell you to “DO it” (the training that is)
  • An overview of what the culture is like and how the organisation is structured (this can be key in determining how easy it is to get people on board and change minds. For example a company with a hierarchical structure and a blame culture will resist change and pass the buck. Whereas a matrix structure and a culture of empowering, will welcome your curiosity and fresh eyes to see what might be going wrong.
  • Infiltrate the organisation so you have your finger on the pulse of what is happening, now, not 6 months ago

Sometimes we may not be able to foresee when we need to do an LNAplanned or un. Have a look at the picture below to see some of the instances when they can be planned and when not. Try as much as you can to plan in your LNA’s (always thinking about what might be going on under the surface). Once you start doing regular LNA’s and demonstrating the value your solutions bring, it will become easier and easier to get the resources you need to do a valuable LNA and any subsequent solutions.

Once you know you are going to do an LNA, you then need to choose some suitable methods. Below is a table of many different LNA methods. You could start by trying to sort them according to whether they are high/low cost and whether they are suitable for individuals or groups.LNA Methhods This is one way to see which methods are going to be most suitable for your situation. You will also need to consider some other criteria, to be able to decide which methods are most suitable:

  • Your budget
  • Resources, such as people and tools
  • Time
  • Commitment from stakeholders – without this, it does make it harder*
  • Size and culture of your organisation

*Read this blog about stakeholder management

So finally …. here are some of the secrets of LNA (I am sure you knew these already!)

  • Know the difference between an LNA, TNA and NA (remember the Jedi mind tricks!)
  • Choose the most suitable methods (use triangulation – 3 methods to get a broader picture)
  • Plan the LNA when you can
  • Always keep the end in mind so that you are aligned to your business

Thanks to everyone who came to the session and participated. We were truly overwhelmed by the numbers who were there and also the numbers of people who spoke to us saying “We are in that 75% and we need help!”

This topic certainly seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people and my concern is that if you are in that 75%, you get the help you need to achieve alignment with your organisation. If you need help, then please phone for a chat to see what we could do. Phone Krys on 07952 416530 or email info@howtoacceleratelearning.co.uk

 

Walk this way…. part 4…beginning with the end in mind

walk this wayThis is the fourth in this new series of blogs called “Walk this way”, where I am inviting you, the reader, to follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.

Here is an overview of the whole approach, showing clearly the 6 steps.IMG_5170

This time we will look at the 4th step – “A good needs analysis leads to a solid evaluation and appropriate design“.

Some of you may be thinking “Why has she said ‘needs analysis‘ and not ‘training needs analysis‘ or ‘learning needs analysis‘?” So in a nutshell:

  • Training Needs Analysis – the solutions are always going to be training solutions
  • Learning Needs Analysis – though the solutions may be broader, they will always be about learning
  • Needs Analysis –  the solutions may be training, learning or the analysis may uncover an organisational need unrelated to learning (e.g. poor process)

A needs analysis goes much deeper. For it to go deeper, you need to ask questions that go beyond the normal “what do they need to know, or be able to do, by the end?“. Questions like:

  • What stops them doing a good job?
  • What resources do they still need?
  • Is there a system or process that could be improved?

If you do a good needs analysis, it leads to a good, or ‘meaningful’ evaluation. Which means that the business sees the value in what is delivered. You can only do a good needs analysis if you understand how the organisation works and have some understanding of both the structure and the culture. This goes beyond the traditional remit of what an L&D professional has traditionally needed to be. Curiously, the CIPD L&D Survey from 2015 reported that only 25% of organisations could say that L&D were extremely aligned to the needs of the business. Surely this should be higher?

If you can start with the end in mind, this does not mean ignoring short-term performance but rather using this to guide towards, and to reinforce, long-term objectives. This is what the “end in mind” means. To get to that end requires much more involvement, but by delivering real business results L&D will certainly get the attention of the business. Linking to hard business metrics, L&D can position itself as an important strategic business asset rather than just a training department. Aligning L&D to the business will have many benefits.

If you do a thorough needs analysis, focussed on the business, the design of any learning, will be more appropriate to the organisation taking into account:

  • Current levels of skill and knowledge
  • Budgets
  • Time and place for learning
  • How the learners will be supported back in the workplace to imbed the learning

If you would like to know more about The Learning Loop® please contact me. Or better still, consider booking onto one of the open Learning Loop courses or come to one of our Showcase events.

This is the fourth blog in a series of six.

“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.

©Krystyna Gadd 2016

Imagine ALL you are allowed to do is ask questions

IMG_1635What I love about the L&D community and social media are how they come together and rise to a challenge. This week, on LinkedIn and Twitter, I posed a question, which you can see clearly in this picture. Here in this blog, I have collated a great list of questions from this thread to share with you all. I hope they will help you. If you are in L&D pose some great questions of your stakeholders to help L&D be great change partners.

So here are the questions and their authors:

Sue Murfet: ‪Why?

Mark Jones:‪ What’s the outcome?

‪Michelle Spencer‪: What causes you to struggle or become frustrated?

‪Joanna Leckie‪: What do you want to achieve?

‪Garry Boon:‪ Would you look back on this in five years and say “that was the right choice?”

Niall Lavery‪: How are you going to be the best that you can be?

Gillian Gustar‪: I really like the question Garry proposes….bit of a different way of thinking about it. I’d probably ask something like ‘what is the best experience of learning you’ve had before?‪

Ben Palmer: ‪”How creative can we be”

Paul Morgan:‪ How can I help you solve your business problems

‪Peter Davies‪: Why?

Paul Morgan:‪ My other one is …How can we become impossible to

Niall Gavin:‪”What’s the least I can do to help you solve your business problem/s

‪Sarah McIlwaine: ‪How can I help you get where you need to be?

Paul Haywood: ‪What’s the problem you’re trying to fix and how will you know you’ve been successful

Malini Patel: How will you value your L&D department? Followed up with… What will do that for us a business? Followed up with… When shall we start collaborating to achieve that?

Malini Patel: What will that do?

‪Keith Hay: ‪How would you like us to support you to succeed?

Ana Teresa Calles: Why do you need me (L&D)?

Richard Hand‪: How would you like your company to think and feel in one year from now?

‪Scott Watson: ‪Why do we continue to focus on ‘delivering training’ without first clearly establishing and understanding what likely, and actual value, is to be delivered for the organisation?

Paul Tran‪: What’s it going to take for us to add value to your work and life today?

Claire Silvester‪: What do I need to keep on doing to keep you engaged ?

Freddie Guilmard: ‪What difference is this going to make?

Glen Butler: ‪What does the very best version of you look like?

Dan Walker‪: “How are you feeling?”

Steve Roberts: ‪Fast forward 6 months, what would you see happening that’s different to today?

Galal Salih:‪How could you add value?

‪Jeanette Salmon: Why are you here?

Daniel Harding: ‪What does a successful, exciting and fulfilling day at work look like for you?

Mark Jones: ‪How and where are you going to apply what you have learned? how will you know it has worked?

Adrian Stokes: What have you tried before? What are you trying to resolve (followed by at least 5 why’s)? What would happen if we did nothing? What would happen if we fixed it? How is this going to impact on business performance? How will you measure it? Who is accountable for any change? What resources are you and I going to need to put into making sure it works? What will be the early signs of success or failure? Are you absolutely SURE you need my help?

Scott Barnfield:You have a magic wand that can remove all barrier Now……what can you achieve?”

Liz Ford: What would you like to have happen?

Please keep adding yours and if they are unique I will add them to this great list. Thanks for all your contributions!

Walk this way…part 2…stakeholder engagement

walk this wayThis is the second in this new series of blogs called “Walk this way”, where I am inviting you, the reader, to follow my view on what a good approach to learning would look like.

Here is an overview of the whole approach, showing clearly the 6 steps.IMG_5170

This time we will look at the 2nd step”

“Stakeholder engagement and management skills are developed.”

As mentioned in Part 1,  L&D is often not “knitted-in” to the business and this can cause a disconnect between the expectations of the business and the results that L&D actually delivers. A vicious cycle builds and L&D develops into a function which is reactive and under-resourced.

To build an L&D function that is meaningful to the organisation, you will first need to identify the stakeholders and agree objectives. In large organisations this is not always easy  as the interest of some stakeholders may override the interests of the others. The time you spend uncovering needs, will pay dividends in the long run. If you get a better view of the whole picture then you will not only understand the organisation better, but the organisation will begin to trust you.

When considering requests for L&D programmes you should:

  • Identify the stakeholders and try to categorise them. The stakeholder analysis grid  can help identify which of your stakeholders you need to nurture or should be spending more time with and also those who take up your time for little return
  • Ask questions; particularly “Why this..?” and “Why now?”
  • Be a partner. To get buy-in from stakeholders, partner with them to find the best business solution. Not all problens can be solved by L&D so find out what they REALLY need!
  • Try to link to real business metrics by discovering what change in the organisation is required and changes in behaviour they need to achieve that.

L&D can be very effective if it works in partnership with the stakeholders. You can use a stakeholder analysis to uncover interests and how best to influence them. By staying close to the stakeholders, you will also uncover the potential risks and pitfalls in your L&D programmes. But best of all, L&D will be delivering to objectives that are linked to real organisational success.

In short, if you want to engage your stakeholders you have to;

  • Speak their language.
  • Demonstrate value for money and business value.
  • Manage the “undead” – don’t let them steal your time.
  • Understand how your organisation works so that you can infiltrate it.

If you would like to know more about The Learning Loop® please contact me. Or better still, consider booking onto one of the open Learning Loop courses or come to one of our Showcase events.

This is the second blog in a series of six.

“Walk this way” – the whole blog series.

©Krystyna Gadd 2016

Your training budget has been cut…again

There is a truism that training and R&D are the first places to get hit when companies want to cut costs.  But how do companies get to the point of cutting these areas that are vital to future success?

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When speaking to companies I often hear of the intense pressure on L&D to “deliver” and as a result, staff are under pressure to do more and more with less and less.  Let’s be clear, no organisation has an unlimited training budget (but if there is one, please contact me immediately!) but I don’t think it is necessary either.

Senior executives have to see a correlation between the value that L&D brings to an organisation and business results.  If they can’t see one, then that is an uncomfortable place to have to be because it may mean a skill gap in both L&D and senior management.

You might think the way to show a link is through measurement?  Not necessarily. Certainly it is much easier for large organisations to measure lots of things these days using IT, yet it does not mean that you are measuring the right things.  You can only measure the right things when you have a comprehensive understanding of your business and the business environment in which you operate.  Once you have found the areas, which make your business successful, doing a good analysis at the start, you can then decide how best to measure performance in those areas.

When you have made those links you will need to identify the stakeholders and agree objectives.  That may sound simplistic but this is a great truth for many organisational activities – well beyond L&D!  Identifying stakeholders is important and gets much more difficult with large and complicated organisations.  This can also become problematical in large organisations when people who were not considered in the initial consultations undermine the L&D initiatives. There are ways of minimising this but, again, it’s for further discussion.

So, L&D can deliver! And L&D can be very effective if it delivers to objectives that are linked to real business success.

You can read more about our approach to learning through “The Learning Loop approach“.