In our last blog post, we discussed the issues learners face in remembering content and sparking lasting change as a result of learning and development sessions. 

In this post, we’ll discuss another client challenge, this one faced by the organization as a whole. 

For the organization, an investment into a learning and development program is often perceived as a cost, and one that is not visibly connected to return.

When your clients decide on new goals, they usually find that they need new competencies to get there. 

Competencies can either be bought or developed; in other words, the organization can either hire new talent or revamp what they already have. 

Developing existing talent presents a unique benefit: leaders who already understand the inner workings of the organization can be trained in new competencies, with the help of the right trainers, consultants and coaches. 

Besides, organizations are budget conscious – and you can probably guess which option is cheaper.

That’s where you come in: in order to help the organization achieve their strategic objective, you are tasked with teaching their current leaders what they need to know (and how they need to think) in order to make things happen.

For the organization, the purpose of the training all comes back to strategic planning, but the first step is setting a budget. 

The learning and development team will be tasked with finding a training program to fit the budget. 

Already, the tone is set to one of efficiency, not effectiveness. This is where the first disconnect happens.

The client wants to stay within budget, but still see a change in their leadership. 

The budget likely has relatively little to do with why this training is required as it pertains to the company’s goals and strategic priorities.

And without an understood clarity on “why” the training is happening, the selection of a training vendor often becomes a matter of “what” and “how” (content, structure, and efficiency of delivery). 

While these items are important, they have the potential to miss the mark on intended impact.

And what’s more, once a development program is approved, the results of the program are measured based on participant satisfaction and knowledge retention. 

These priorities are worthy in their own right, but they’re often disconnected from the business priorities that identified the need for the skill development in the first place.

This misalignment perpetuates the myth of learning as something that is “nice to have,” rather than a necessity for meeting strategic goals. 

Long term, the misalignment limits the learning and development budget for future projects and cycles.

Instead of using content knowledge retention to measure the success of our programs, consultants should focus on behavior change. 

After all, new competencies can only be realized when a behavior change occurs.

When we can quantifiably demonstrate the behavior changes being undertaken by the learners, we can more easily connect our programs to the strategic goals of the organizations we serve.

The takeaways from the problems faced by both learners and the organizations we serve are rather simple: First, learners need support and tools to help them achieve their desired behavior change. 

Organizations need a way to quantify how training gives way to behavior change, and how those behavior changes advance the organization’s strategic priorities.

At Actionable, we’re on a mission to help boutique consultants provide these tools to their learners and these measurement methods to the organizations they serve. We’d love to show you how we can help. Book a time to talk with us.