As business demands change in the age of the fourth industrial revolution, organizations face a widening gap between the skills they need and the expertise available in the existing workforce. The increased focus on upskilling and reskilling has put a lot of pressure on L&D function to prepare the workforce of the future.
According to a recent ‘Learning & Development trends’ study, one of the top priorities for L&D function is to align L&D strategy to the business. However, the report also indicates that the current role of L&D leans towards tactical activities like assessing learning requirements defining and delivering trainings, etc. Furthermore, the report noted that the importance of Learning & Development initiatives haven’t percolated into organizations, only 37% C-suite and board members viewed learning as central to the function. The study also found that organizations who consider themselves ready to achieve their L&D priorities have their leadership buy-in to take these priorities to business outcomes.
Having leadership buy-in not only helps organizations focus on aligning the function to the overall business strategy but also overcome challenges pertaining to drive upskilling/ reskilling employees to meet the evolving business demands that has a direct impact on profitability of the business.
Here’s how you can engage your leaders:
Engage leaders in communication :
Communicating the learning need of the business to your employees is a critical first step. It is not only important to demystify the business need for courses but one needs to be able to communicate the value of the courses at the individual level. While line managers and immediate supervisors can play an important role in building the personal connect, it is leaders who will be key to articulate the importance of learning from a strategy standpoint. Apart from mailers, and teleconferencing tools, organizing town halls with a goal to address concerns will be key to motivate and inspire employees.
Co-create your strategy :
Involving your leaders in identifying a learning roadmap will help align leadership priorities. But before engaging your business leaders make sure you have addressed the following points while developing you the learning strategy:
- Ensure your learning strategy is mapped to the business outcomes
- Articulate learning and development success metrics
- Identify and create methodologies to measure the impact of learning
- Build a governance mechanism to ensure the learning strategy adapts to changing learning needs.
- Getting a leadership buy-in might not be an easy task to do. However, getting a leadership support helps in driving the program to success.
Leadership and learning:
Girish Badrinarayan, Technology Head, Pluralsight India shares, “As we move into the era of digital transformation, we don’t see business units working in isolation anymore. The learning objectives of each departments are completely aligned with the business goals.” And one of the ways by which leaders can play an active part in the learning mandate is to take part in learning initiatives themselves.
According to a Learning & Development study, the need for reskilling is highest in leadership roles (82%). There is a need to start engaging leaders to understand their learning priorities to enable them to see learning as a contributor to business goals.
According to IBM Smarter Workforce Report 2013, organizations that provide training see a significantly higher return on assets i.e. three times more than companies that don’t engage in ongoing employee training programs. Build your business case effectively before reaching out to the leadership. Plan and review numbers in advance and clearly articulate the leadership and business need for the involvement of leaders in learning.