Three rules for your objectives

We often consider corporate learning as an essential tool in retaining the best employees. However, the main objective of a for-profit organisation is to get profit. It forces HR managers to have a certain balance when designing and implementing learning. On the one hand, the learning process should be designed to support achievement of strategic objectives. On the other hand, employees are engaged, when there is an opportunity to achieve their own, personal goals. Add to these goals, objectives and KPIs of L&D and HR professionals and solving this equation becomes impossible.

There are three simple rules that will help you to balance interests of all groups:

  • clear purpose right from the start,
  • all “whys” answered,
  • offer employees to increase their market value.

Clear purpose right from the start

The first set of objectives we should consider are the objectives of HR and L&D professionals. Nobody wants to kickstart a new project that will be a complete failure or another reincarnation of corporate stupidity. Because of this, first impression is important. The worst way to start a new initiative is to send a non-personalized email, like this:

"Dear colleagues,

We have purchased a one-year licence of online learning system. It contains excellent learning materials and we hope you will use this resource to develop your skills.

Good luck!"

Research shows that in 2018 an average business user received 140 emails per day. It means that a non-personalised email like the one above, would be lost among similar emails. If there are signs of mass emailing, the chances of that are even higher.

All “whys” answered

To avoid making it wrong from the very start, HR professionals should present a project to all stakeholders – from top managers to employees who plan to participate in the learning progsramme. A learning initiative, like any other initiatives should answer all whys, or better to say all WIIFMs (“what’s in for me?”). The people have a right to know why the learning initiative is started and what amount of efforts is required from them. If they understand this, they learn independently and intelligently.

Your learning software should allow you to show a target profile of competencies and explain why the company needs to develop certain managerial competencies. Link the competencies with organisational values and show how they supplement and support each other. Your employees should have access to a standard for each competency. Each standard includes required behaviours, performance and knowledge and skills levels.

If your company doesn’t have an approved competency matrix, you should have a consultation with the top management. It will engage the senior managers and gain you support from the top.

Offer employees to increase their market value

Shareholders value is a fine concept but barely useful in organisational development, as “nobody wakes up at 6.00 am to maximise shareholders value”. Employees have joined your company to achieve their own goals – pay their bills, have a career, increase their level of professionalism.

So, after setting requirements for competencies needed to achieve business goals, show your employees, how the initiative would help them to achieve their personal goals. Few people can identify their own gaps in knowledge and skills and prioritise areas for improvement. One of the tasks of L&D professionals is to help employees to connect the learning objectives with personal development goals.

Offer you employees a tool that will allow to identify a gap between the required and current skillset. Explain to them, that just having this gap identified is useful as it shows which areas of improvement exist. And then show them, how continuous learning will cover these gaps and how it will be visualised in their own competencies profile

If you can explain to your employees that each tiny increase on the radar chart basically means increase in their market value and employability, you can be sure employees will consider the learning programme with higher enthusiasm.

How does this strategy help HR managers and L&D professionals?

  • First, it allows to tightly link business metrics and progress in skills and competencies development. If essential business performance metrics increase simultaneously with increase in skills and competencies, these two metrics can be easily connected.
  • Second, it increases employees’ loyalty. Other things being equal, employees would be more loyal to a company that takes their development seriously and takes extra efforts to make their learning journeys truly personalised and thus useful. Also, the new breed of microlearning employee development platforms have long-term tracks for various categories of employees. In SNAPSIM™ to master four levels of managerial competencies an employee would take about 4 years. So, for four years he/she would have less incentives to leave your company.

How does this strategy help employees?

  • First, it allows to clarify strategic business goals through understanding of the competencies employees should have on different levels.
  • Second, it allows employees to identify a gap in their knowledge and skills and set it as a “start position”.
  • Third, employees would understand why and how they learn. SNAPSIM™ system for example is designed to fit into busy schedule of today’s workforce offering 10 minutes per day for learning workouts. It allows to develop competencies critical for a company in a time effective and personalised manner.