All too often learning and development tops the list of non-essential spending that gets cut in difficult economic times. It also tops the list of false economies.
The second phase of The Work Foundation’s study into Outstanding Leadership, which evaluates the effectiveness of the Enabling Outstanding Leadership Programme, highlights clear links between the intervention and a number of performance outcomes including greater involvement of participants in strategic conversations and decisions, more confident, proactive direct reports and increased collaboration and cohesion across the organisation. To reduce investment is to constrain individual, team and organisational growth.
During the programme participants gained in self-awareness, confidence and knowledge of new approaches and techniques, all of which helped them to bring about these outcomes. However, the evaluation also suggests a number of steps organisations can take to create the optimum environment to support learning transfer.
First, provide participants with a dedicated sponsor, typically their line manager, to agree learning objectives at the start, support and challenge the participant throughout the process, and review progress and further development areas at the end.
Next, encourage a culture of learning, allowing participants to try new approaches and techniques and reflect on their experiences.
Thirdly, use existing processes to support learning transfer, e.g. incorporate learning objectives into PDR process for regular review points.
And finally, ensure there are clear roles, responsibilities, structures and appropriate workload/resources to ensure participants have the opportunity to implement and reflect upon learning.
Demonstrating return on investment has never been more crucial; budgets are tight and organisations are under immense pressure. This study suggests line managers and learning and development professionals can work in tandem to create a more valuable learning experience for participant and organisation alike.
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