Although organizations may worry about dedicating time and resources to learning, if L&D professionals get the approach right, then the organization and people will benefit. L&D practitioners must engage with and support leaders and show that there is a more effective way to achieve the organization’s core purpose through a future-focused learning and development plan that enables it to flourish. The first step must be for L&D professionals to establish robust personal development plans to transform the knowledge and capabilities of L&D teams to create strategic, performance consultants that are data-driven and evidence-based, accredited and who have the commitment to engage with CPD to remain ahead of the curve. The evidence is clear and highlights that L&D leaders and teams in top performing learning organizations invest significantly in themselves as they plan for change and then make it happen. By addressing their own development before supporting learning needs in their organizations, they are able to provide the expertise and agility required and become the credible learning experts their organizations need. It is through the investment in professional development, qualifications and networking that the knowledge and capabilities of L&D professional will be transformed. It is this that will have the impact on the four critical levers of organizational success; growth, transformation, productivity and profitability.
Learning and development professionals improve their learning through:
• Membership of professional bodies;
• Informally with colleagues;
• Networking and
• Blogs, podcasts and online articles.
Management and leadership competency models
Many organizations now use competency or behavioral frameworks to develop managers and leaders. They are extremely popular in multinational organizations; how-ever, they are not without problems and are often viewed as a one size it’s all strategy
Competency modelling has become widespread. Organizations like them because they provide a consistent framework for integrating human capital management systems and can help align employee actions with common strategic organizational goals, and facilitate performance improvement through a competency-based development process. Competency models are based on the idea that every position requires the job incumbent to possess certain competencies in order to perform at his or her highest level.
Competency-based management and leadership development typically involves the following key activities:
● identification of the core competencies needed for high-level performance in
a specific position;
● assessment of the extent to which a particular job incumbent possesses those
• creation of specific developmental opportunities to match the requirements of
However, though I find the competency models popular in organizations, there is little research that demonstrates a link between the bottom-line business performance and competency-based approaches to leadership and management development. They do not essentially lead to greater transfer of learning and enhanced leader effectiveness neither do they account for context. They normally have limited behaviors required for effective performance and they contain overlap.
A Skills Pulse Survey carried out by Towards Maturity on behalf of CIPD, defines key L&D development gaps themes in the CIPD’s new Profession Map. In addition, it provides practical insights to help L&D practitioners ‘make better decisions, act with confidence, perform at your peak, drive change in your organization and career progress. The transformation of organizations demands the transformation of L&D practitioners.
The two key surveys conducted by the CIPD and Towards Maturity together brings in insights as follows:
• The CIPD and Towards Maturity Skills Pulse Survey, which was completed by 175 L&D professionals which provided key insights into the development needs of learning practitioners, conducted in September 2018.
• The 2018 Towards Maturity Health Check, which provides insights into key L&D knowledge and behavior gaps of learning professionals linked to the new Profession Map. Over 700 L&D practitioners participated in this study.
• These reports reveals, organizations that provide relevant Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for their L&D staff are more likely to be increasing business impact by building the capability of the organization to solve problems as they are better equipped to build the skills of their learners.
• Another approach to identify the fundamental skills and knowledge needed by all L&D practitioners is The new CIPD’s New Profession Map which brings clarity to the L&D industry making it easier to develop, track and grow your career as an accredited professional.
The CIPD’s New Profession Map is the product of wide consultation with CIPD members, business leaders, industry experts and partner organizations across the globe – It is very useful and strong to:
• Build capability in oneself, teams and organizations
• Develop expertise in emerging areas of practice
• Drive sustainable organizational change
• Help one be a more confident, decisive and credible people
• Prove one’s value as an expert on people, work and change.
It's built around the overarching purpose of the people profession: to champion better work and working lives.
It shifts the focus from generic best practice and processes to values-based decision-making. It doesn’t tell practitioners what to do, but shows how having the core capabilities to live CIPD’s professional values (principles-led, evidence-based and outcomes-driven) leads to better decisions and impact in any situation.
That could be why, 90% of high performing learning organizations within Towards Maturity’s 2018 Health Check (those companies that see the biggest business impact as a result of learning), ensure their learning professionals are given relevant CPD opportunities to develop their skills. Continuing to develop the capabilities and professional standards of L&D practitioners is a key to business success that is too often ignored. If organizations expect employees to engage in continuous learning to future-proof the organization, it is equally essential that people professionals are proactively supported and resourced to undertake professional development to remain effective in managing the constantly evolving L&D practice. The more investment into developing the skills and knowledge of people professionals, the greater the opportunity of seeing better organizational results. Like the proverbial children of the shoemaker who went without shoes, it is not only shortsighted but wholly detrimental to organizational success to ignore the CPD of people professionals. Their capability underpins the effective development of all others and their ability to innovate will drive learning beyond outdated, ineffective approaches.
This tells us that the above approaches i.e. conducting Skills Pulse Survey, Health Check Survey and the use of the CIPD’s New Profession Map together with the development of the skills and knowledge of their people professionals through planned continuing professional development (CPD) are powerful approaches to develop management and leadership skills for significant positive impact on growth, productivity and performance.
However, leaders are now seeing that these ‘quick fixes’ are not bringing the long-term change and performance impact required. Organizations lack L&D experts to bring the knowledge and capability on board and show how effective learning should be undertaken. They are also worried about dedicating time and resources to learning, in case the L&D professionals do not get the approach right. There is also a big challenge in failing to get sufficient budget to invest in L&D to yield wanted organizational and people benefits.
The CIPD survey ‘The People Profession in 2018’ found that nearly half of people professionals don’t believe their team or department has credibility in the organization. Findings showed that L&D professionals lack the ability to demonstrate and apply business acumen to a level regarded as satisfactory by the wider organization. This raises doubts about the competence 5rand professionalism of the function. The research data indicates that organizations in which L&D practitioners lack business acumen are substantially less likely to manage risk successfully and rarely drive innovation for organizational growth.
The spread of CPD through most professions demonstrates its importance, though there is a danger when it is imposed that it could degenerate into a box-ticking exercise. It is usually included in performance reviews and there is a need to check that learning is transferred into work, although this begs the question of who judges what can and cannot count as CPD Gold (2013a).
Whichever delivery method is used, evaluation is essential to establish strategic alignment and value for the organization, for the team/department, for the learner, and its durability over time. Although its importance, evaluation is normally neither comprehensive nor systematic. Naturally excuses are that it is difficult to carry out effectively and efficiently, it is a resource heavy, and managers at all levels are often not interested in evaluative data.
The CIPD (2015) L&D survey showed that most organizations evaluate the impact of the majority of their L&D initiatives. Obviously the extent of formal ad systematic evaluation is limited, despite its known worth. When the reason for evaluation is established, it should then be possible to determine what to be evaluated, when and how.
There are four levels of evaluation; Reaction, immediate, intermediate and ultimate Kirkpatrick (1967). The most important level of evaluation differs according to the circumstances and stakeholders’ needs eg, while the trainers will be interest on how well they performed, the finance director will focus on cost effectiveness and return on investment, while the manager will want to assess impact on performance.
This is the usual form of evaluation. Learner feedback and reflection was the most common method used by the organizations which CIPD (2015e) survey sampled at 80%. At every end of the course, ‘Smile Sheets; are typically used to assess the performance of trainers from the point of review of the learners in both absolute and relative terms. These views are useful and trainers find them valuable and prepared to act upon them.
However, there are concerns about the ‘Smile sheets’ and worries that students react to the quality of the performance, the ability of the lecturer’s to maintain surface-level interests or tell jokes to the class, rather than actual learning. Nor do smile sheets evaluate L&D in its wider context, or its relevance to future performance in work.
This measures outcomes in terms of Skills, attitudes and knowledge. Techniques of how to do it include tests, examinations, case studies, projects and structured exercises as well as discussion.
This refers to the impact on job performance and how effectively learning has been transferred back into the workplace. This takes many forms including interviews, diaries, self-report questionnaires, observation and line managers’ feedback. This been seen as the more effective methods. The CIPD (2015e), 52% of the organizations, used managers’ reflection and feedback.
However, at this level, evaluation is much less common than at the first two levels simply because it is harder to undertake and isolate the impact of training from the effect of other variables.
The above attempts to assess the impact on departmental or organizational performance, and on the individual’s total job. The distinction between intermediate and ultimate-level evaluation is somehow blurred. The formal usually refers to performance in a particular task for which L&D has been provided, whereas the latter evaluates impact on overall organizational results.
Ultimate level evaluation varies depending upon the key performance indicators, which should be measured before and after training (Gold et al (2013b), 32% OF organizations in the CIPD (2015e) sample used business metrics for L&D planning. Eg.
• The number of customer complaints
• Level of sales, turnover of productivity
• The number of accidents or lost employment tribunal cases
• Level of unauthorized absenteeism or labor turnover
• Increased morale in the workplace.
Ultimate level evaluation is the most difficult to measure. In some situations, there may be no clear and simple measures, or data may not be collected in a form that allows evaluation to take place. Other factors other than training could affect the outcome especially at higher level of the organization where external influences can have a significant impact eg a small portion of staff within the department or establishment might have trained and although their performance may have improved, this may have relatively little overall effect.
Finally, the leadership development process requires evaluation and review. Without personal transformation, sharing the learning with others and a commitment to lifelong learning individuals will not maximize on the value of their development. Likewise, at the group and organizational levels there should be attempts to identify success, future needs and requirements and meaningful measures and indicators of impact and performance. Given the mediated and time-dependent nature of many of these impacts the measures will need to be qualitative as well as quantitative, which together can be used to create a compelling story or account of why and how the development initiative gave rise to such outcomes and how this might change in the future.
However, even though it is important to be aware of costs and benefits, to roll off a number of general benefits from L&D would be difficult. To quantify them as well as demonstrating a measurable learning impact on organizational performance would be really hard.