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Where is L&D when it comes to organisational performance?

I’ve recently noticed L&D starting to talk about performance on social media. Not a lot but it’s there in language such as “performance support“. Yet when I think about the latest HR zeitgeist of eradicating performance appraisals – fundamentally about learning and development – I really struggle to think of anyone in the L&D space talking loudly about it positively or negatively. The more I think about it I realise that I hear very little from the L&D community about their role in delivering demonstrable organisational performance. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen but…

Have L&D forgotten about organisational performance?

The role of L&D was always about performance. Helping people & teams perform better in their roles or perhaps tactically preparing them for future performance. All learning and development activities in some way should impact on organisational performance and productivity. If it doesn’t why would you invest in it?

There’s a narrative that it’s hard (too hard) to measure the impact of learning and development. The trouble with that narrative is that it excuses people from accountability. It risks favouring the funky and the shiny over what will tangibly and demonstrably aid organisational performance. The concept of ROI becomes something to throw eggs at rather than a reminder that L&D needs to demonstrably aid organisational performance. Instead we get the “happy sheet” which lets face it is all about the performance of the deliverer…

Did self gratification get in the way of L&D delivering their organisational purpose?

My intent isn’t to criticise L&D practitioners. I’m describing what I think I see being shared openly. I know there are many good practioners working to support organisational performance and the development of fellow humans.

Still, I have a nagging suspicion that L&D just isn’t vocal enough about their role in performance. I sense that this isn’t a good thing for current or future practitioners. So I ask…

Where is L&D when it comes to organisational performance?


2 thoughts on “Where is L&D when it comes to organisational performance?

  1. If organisational performance is the optimal efficient, effective delivery of the organisational purpose (eg sell more widgets) then that has to be the bedrock. L&D need to deeply understand that purpose and the methods through which it is achieved to oil the wheels. Sort of like the race engineer in F1.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by simonheath1 | February 24, 2016, 7:28 AM
  2. Including the word ‘performance’ in the name of The Learning and Performance Institute many years ago tells you all you need to know about how essential we feel this aspect is to the role of learning. I try not to talk about learning and development these days. I talk about learning and performance, and efficacy; for example here on a video I recorded at LT a fortnight ago where I specifically refer to this topic

    In 2016 the perpetuation of the argument that learning is hard to measure is frustrating to hear. We should not be trying to ‘measure learning’, we should be measuring impact, and that is done by measuring performance and ensuring that the learning team is considered to be an intrinsic ingredient in the continued success of the employing organisation.
    As an example, training teams could be called performance teams to improve their profile and status.

    People within the performance department should refer to colleagues as colleagues not delegates – this would help. I stood at the front of The Dorchester one year ago, hosting The Learning Awards and in my opening address argued that learning needs a seat at the top table of every business. I stand by that and would propose that there needs to be a change in language in approach where learning is seen as the engine of positive change, and both individual and organisational advancement. Demonstrable impact is essential if learning is to maintain its existence. That starts with alignment. LPI has been helping learning teams do this for years.

    Liked by 2 people

    Posted by edmundmonk | February 24, 2016, 10:16 AM


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