By Priyanka Malhotra
Organizations –big or small are struggling in the harsh business environment riddled with flailing economies, dropping GDPs, and rising demographic challenges. As such, the common mantra across organizations is to strive to be efficient, lean, and productive. Leadership is ready to invest in the training and development of their workforce, but wants proof of Returns on Investment (ROI). Gone are days of extensive global travel for the Facilitators and Participants or even culture of taking off from work to attend multi-day classroom programs.
L&D units are showing a keen interest in measuring and showcasing the outcome of learning programs. They are looking to design learning solutions that minimize time off-the-desk and maximize returns in terms of increased proficiency directly impacting business goals. The focus is not just on how the training programs are conducted, but also on how and by when can their impact be seen. This shift can be observed in most of recent training development proposals that ask for strategies for implementing 70-20-10 framework, measuring ROI, and designing Outcome-based learning solutions.
This got me thinking; Can L&D alone implement a 70-20-10 framework in an organization?
What other functions and areas of governance need to synchronize to realistically implement such a framework?
Let’s explore this some more.
Where does the journey start? ROI and Outcome-based learning dictate that Learning Objectives must tie back to Organizational Business goals. After all, the outcome of the training must fulfil some business objective. So the journey really starts from the Top.
Organization’s Vision and Mission
The Organizational vision and mission statements define the essence of its existence and aspirations. Therefore, it is important that there is clear, consistent, and transparent articulation of Organization’s Vision and Mission across all levels. A clear vision and an actionable mission provide a direction to the entire Organization. Some questions that must be considered are:
- Does the Organization have clearly articulated vision and mission?
- Is there a common interpretation of the vision and mission across all levels of employees?
Translating Vision into Goals
Next, it is critical to translate the mission into organization’s finite goals. The Leadership defines this in the form of short-term and long-term goals of the company. The HR plays a critical role here in taking the vision of the organization and reflecting it in the job descriptions, competency model, and sharing the gaps with L&D’s to facilitate development plans. Some important questions are:
- Are the Organizational short-term and long-term goals aligned to the Vision?
- What behaviors, skills, and competencies should the employees demonstrate across various roles to fulfil the vision?
- Do the job profiles elucidate these behaviors, skills, and competencies?
- What skills and competencies need developed in the workforce to align to the goals?
The focus is now on distilling the vision and organizational goals to a granular level such that each associate understands the role they play in the big scheme of things. The HR along with the Business Functions and Department Heads needs to define and articulate the team goals that are aligned to the Organizational goals. This helps in focusing the activity into smaller groups. Let teams take a critical look at their functioning and skills set to identify areas of development. Let them identify the competencies that need to be built within the teams. It is desirable that the goals be cascaded down, right to the level of an Individual so that the growth aspirations of an individual and the Organization are aligned.
When this framework is in place, it feeds valuable data and information to L&D to create focused training plans and development initiatives.
Identifying the Appropriate Learning Solution
Looking at the training development from another angle, an important question that must be addressed when designing training is; Is training the right solution for the problem/issue?
Many times as soon as a problem is faced or a negative client feedback is received, everyone stresses the need to train our people. Error data and feedback are collated to push the case for immediate training. However, it is advised to move with caution here. Has a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) been done for the issue? Does it indicate knowledge or a skill gap? If yes, then by all means start designing your training. But if it indicates a breakdown of communication or any other factors, then review carefully if it is the process or systems that need to be reviewed.
In fact, the findings of the RCA can be quite helpful in deciding what kind of training should be designed to address the need. For example, a lack of core knowledge in the team might require a formal classroom, self-paced or blended learning program (the formal 10%).
However, a gap in the skills of new on-boarded team members might require planning mentoring sessions with seasoned team members (the collaborative 20%); while an inability of the team to grasp the nuances of an updated process might need creation of job aids to provide performance support (the on-the-job 70%).
Aligning the Learning Objectives to Performance Objectives
At a granular level, when you start creating design and content for the training it pays to keep validating whether the Performance Objectives are being met by the training or Learning component. For example, the learning objective, learner will be able to identify the different sales strategies is a clear objective for the training, but how and where will this knowledge help them when they start talking to customers is something that should be highlighted in the training too! What kind of practice exercises or simulations will help them apply this knowledge in a real life context?
Therefore, you need to design the learning solution and implement ID strategies keeping the Performance Objectives in sight.
The above examples showcase how the business needs are tied to the outcome expected from the learning.
Last but not the least; the Organizational culture is an important deciding factor determining the effectiveness of outcome based learning. You may design the best learning programs; have most sophisticated LMS and intranet portals offering myriad of services – technology works when people want to make it work. So take a hard look to see if your organizational culture promotes learning and collaboration, encourage voicing of views and suggestions, promotes a robust performance evaluation process that assesses and enables development planning aligned to goals, encourage knowledge sharing, and demonstrates strong ethical values.
This creates a ground for effective implementation of a 70-20-10 framework where:
- The formal trainings are aimed at building skills and knowledge
- There are social platforms, like communities, COEs, employee portals that facilitate social collaboration and learning.
- Systems are in place to provide on-the-job support and frameworks like mentoring and counselling are established to help people move towards their goals – and thereby contribute towards organizational goals too.
That’s when we can effectively implement an outcome-based learning model and truly measure learning framework’s ROI.