How To Create A Successful Learning & Development Strategy
What is an L&D Strategy?
A learning and development strategy is a framework that facilitates an organisation’s development of its workforce’s capabilities, skills and competencies in order to remain successful and grow.
How can an L&D strategy work in the logistics sector?
For the logistics sector specifically, learning and development is rarely seen as one of the selling points. We recently conducted a survey of students at WorldSkills UK in which only 3.8% had any desire to pursue a career in the logistics sector. This is in part down to the perceived lack of career progression and development within the sector.
This suggests that strong and effectively communicated learning and development strategies can play a really important role in attracting and keeping talent in the sector.
What is an L&D strategy used for?
An L&D strategy is used to develop employees and practices in order to achieve the business’ overall development goals.
A good L&D strategy:
- Has measurable goals, objectives and outcomes.
- Is a framework, a systematic process that can be built upon over time.
- Should be based on where the company is currently at, identifying areas of potential improvement.
- Should develop both the business and the individuals within it.
Top Tips for creating and implementing a strong L&D Strategy:
Be united in your goals
While the strategy will likely be conceived at the top level of the business, it needs to be bought into by every member of the team at all levels, or it won’t be successful. Everyone needs to be headed in the same direction.
This is an opportunity to create a culture for the business and truly involve employees in the growth of their own workplace. It is also a good time to gather feedback from employees about their individual goals. It can also facilitate a conversation about career path opportunities and progression planning.
Employees should feel like they have some control of their own self-development – it’s not for the organisation to have total input.
Identify the gaps
What are the opportunities for development within your team? Identifying the gaps in your team is the first step to developing them in ways that will most benefit them.
Engage employees in this task, they will likely want to develop themselves as much as you do so find out what they think their strengths and weaknesses are. You could do this by using an informal survey, or by asking them to complete a skills matrix, an example of which can be found here.
Remember, not all of your team will have the same skills gaps and not everyone will be best suited to learn every new skill. Try and identify which team members will respond best to which types of training, in order to get the best results from everyone.
Find the potential
Although all of your team should be trained to a strong standard, there may be certain team members that really shine. If a team member has recently completed a course or module, bring them back to share their insight and learning to their peers. This could be done in a formal mentor/coaching capacity or through informal group discussions,. It is a great way of using the strength of your team to give back and inspire those that are currently undertaking the same training, or are considering it.
This will also help set the bar higher for the rest of your team, giving them something to aim for while making sure your star performers are being challenged and using their new found skills.
Make it personal
While the L&D strategy encompasses the entire business, your employees are your entire business and any benefits to them will also directly benefit the business goals, so make it work for them.
A one-size-fits-all plan will not work in motivating and up-skilling your employees and could even leave some feeling alienated and unheard. The strategy should be specific, but flexible enough that it can be customised for each individual’s learning needs, both in what they want to achieve and how they can best achieve it.
For example, some team members may prefer to work as part of a team, so sending them on team training courses would work really well for them. However, others may be more individual learners and be happy taking on tasks and projects with minimal supervision.
One well known learning and development strategy is the 70:20:10 model, which can be highly effective. This is a commonly used formula that suggests that individuals’ knowledge should come from the following areas:
Hands-on experience (70% job) is the most beneficial, allowing employees to refine role-related skills, address challenges and interact with influential people.
Learning form others (20%) through coaching and mentoring, for example, lead to encouragement and feedback, which are key benefits. Finally, and maybe surprisingly, only 10% of time is recommended to be spent on traditional academic learning and educational events.
Consider each member’s unique preferences of working and learning to get the best results overall.
Make it achievable and monitorable
While the strategy can be flexible and creative in order to get the most out of your team, the team needs clear expectations and KPIs.
Make sure you identify ‘what good looks like’ at the outset. If the objectives aren’t clear, they will be very hard to put actions in place to meet them and not having clear progress check-ins can leave teams de-motivated.
There are a number of ways that development can be monitored, including personal development plans that are regularly visited with feedback, or competency assessments for example.
For groups or graduates that are following similar development plans, online portals, forums and corporate social networks can be really effective for sharing learnings.
Overall, a learning and development strategy is vital in driving your business forward and developing your employees. Employees who feel like you value their development and progression as much as they do are more likely to be loyal and committed to the company, while their increased level of ability will provide continued results for your business – it’s a win-win.
Remember, a well-rounded learning development strategy should be measurable, adaptable and tailored to your team’s strengths and weaknesses.