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Learning and development – key enablers of organizational performance and success

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Learning and development

The world is increasingly knowledge centric. Rapid technological developments coupled with the ever more challenging economic conditions characterized by fierce competition, increased financial uncertainty and changing customer needs and expectations force organizations to consider learning and development activities as critical for their organizational performance and success.

An Aberdeen Group research, conducted by Lombardi and Bourke between September and October 2010, examined the use, intentions and strategies of nearly 400 organizations to achieve their learning and business performance objectives.

According to research findings, best in class organizations (top 20% of the enterprises surveyed) clearly outperformed their peers in all analyzed performance criteria:

  • % Organizational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Management by Objectives (MBOs) targets met (89% for best in class – 59% for *laggards);
  • % New hires meeting their first performance milestones on time (86% for best in class – 55% for laggards);
  • % Employees rated as “exceeding expectations” in their most recent performance review (75% for best in class – 22% for laggards).

* Laggards are the bottom 30% of the organizations surveyed.

Performance on other key performance indicators clearly shows that top organizations that effectively execute their learning strategies are better off than all other organizations:

  • % Customer retention (93% for bets in class – 89% for all others)
  • % Employee engagement (77% for best in class – 60% for all others)
  • % Bench strength (56% for best in class – 44% for all others)
  • % Change in revenue per FTE (11% for best in class – 4% for all others)

Among the top pressures identified as needing to be addressed through learning are:

  • Business changes require reeducation and realignment;
  • Lack of key skills in the marketplace, and
  • Changing customer needs and expectations

One of the key priorities for organizations in order to address these issues remains to focus their efforts towards continually communicating information to their employees about the organizational strategy and the key strategic directions that need to be followed, as well as any shifts in priorities.

Despite the fact that Aberdeen’s Talent Acquisition Study from August 2010 clearly revealed that “learning must be driven by strategy, and measured by the impact on business results”, organization are still facing critical challenges in executing their learning strategies. Among the most common pressures identified by the organizations surveyed are:

  • Supporting learning and formal learning events;
  • Linking learning programs to business results;
  • Assessing competency / skill levels to determine gaps, and
  • Keeping agile and responsive business needs.
Learning and development

Top Strategies for learning

The Aberdeen research results show that organizations who recognized the critical role learning plays in enabling the execution of business strategy are balancing three key strategies:

  • Define organizational leadership competencies;
  • Link learning programs to business goals, and
  • Strive for more consistent development throughout the lifecycle.
Learning and development

On an internal base, the focus of learning is about nurturing the skills that will enable individuals to be more effective leaders, make better decisions and better execute the strategies. However for most of the top organizations learning is more than that, and it is seen as a way to:

  • Improve product knowledge;
  • Improve satisfaction with product / services;
  • Increase brand awareness;
  • Generate revenue from learning programs, and
  • Gain insights into customers and partners.

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As the Aberdeen report results show, learning is today a key enabler or organizational performance and success. Without a balanced mix of employee skills and knowledge to innovative and the right learning strategies to enact them, organizational performance is deemed to be compromised.

Reference Image Source:
  • Lombardi & Bourke, (2010)
The impact of knowledge on performance
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