Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development
Summary. Not only is the majority of training in today’s companies ineffective, but the purpose, timing, and content of training is flawed. Want to see eyes glaze over quicker than you can finish this sentence? Mandate that busy employees attend a training session on “business writing skills”, or “conflict resolution”, or some other such course with little alignment to their needs. Like lean manufacturing and the lean startup before it, lean learning supports the adaptability that gives organizations a competitive advantage in today’s market. It’s about learning the core of what you need to learn, applying it to real-world situations immediately, receiving immediate feedback and refining your understanding, and then repeating the cycle. In order to begin practicing lean learning, organizations need to move from measuring credits earned to measuring business outcomes created. Lean learning ensures that employees not only learn the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons, but also that they retain what they learn.
Organizations spent $359 billion globally on training in 2016, but was it worth it?
Not when you consider the following:
- 75% of 1,500 managers surveyed from across 50 organizations were dissatisfied with their company’s Learning & Development (L&D) function;
- 70% of employees report that they don’t have mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs;
- Only 12% of employees apply new skills learned in L&D programs to their jobs; and
- Only 25% of respondents to a recent McKinsey survey believe that training measurably improved performance.
Not only is the majority of training in today’s companies ineffective, but the purpose, timing, and content of training is flawed.
Learning for the Wrong Reasons
Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at George Mason University, and author of The Case Against Education, says in his book that education often isn’t so much about learning useful job skills, but about people showing off, or “signaling.”
Today’s employees often signal through continuous professional education (CPE) credits so that they can make a case for a promotion. L&D staff also signal their worth by meeting flawed KPIs, such as the total CPE credits employees earn, rather than focusing on the business impact created. The former is easier to measure, but flawed incentives beget flawed outcomes, such as the following: