L&D managers too busy for strategic learning

It seems the pressures of simply meeting day-to-day needs are having a serious effect on the ability of Learning and Development (L&D) teams to operate effectively, according to new research from KnowledgePool.

We found some troubling results from our HR and L&D Manager Perception Survey 2011. Not only did those surveyed say they were too busy to focus on strategic talent and learning issues but also that they were failing to meet informal learning ambitions, not achieving a reasonable return on their investment and not effectively evaluating the training they were doing. “Lack of resources and lack of support are a reality for today’s L&D practitioners,” said Al Bird, Learning Consultancy Director at KnowledgePool. “Constant fire-fighting means L&D teams don’t have the time to be strategic. This means organisations are missing an opportunity to vastly improve performance at every level.”

Other key areas of concern highlighted in the survey were an inadequate level of analysis for spend and evaluation data – which managers thought could be harming improvement opportunities – and , in a perhaps telling answer, said their training departments were under resourced. It appeared many of those who responded to the survey also had concerns about the level of engagement from senior members of staff, citing the both an inadequacy of buy-in from line managers and a failure to properly engage with them as issues.

“L&D teams recognise the important role line managers play and they want to involve them more,” said Al Bird. “They also recognise the right development option may not be a training intervention at all; it could be an internal assignment or a project. There is a strong belief that informal learning with better collaboration and on-the-job learning opportunities for staff could be the way forward but many seem unsure of how to achieve this. Given more time, L&D teams believe they could reduce unnecessary training and cut out inefficiencies by analysing training booking data and evaluation response data to forecast future training needs and likely volumes.”

Conversely, despite the fact the survey results showed HR and L&D managers had clear concerns over the way training in their company was currently being run, there seemed to be little desire to look into alternatives like outsourcing as a possible solution. The HR and L&D Manager Perception Survey 2011 was conducted with 104 HR or L&D Managers between May and August 2011.