Perspectives - Ken Taylor

Learning and development teams around the globe are responsible for planning training programs that will close the gap on employee performance.  But all too often, in my discussions with the heads of these organizations, the process by which these teams collect data on the gaps they need to close is flawed. We see formal planning processes that collect input from stakeholders and then use that information to plan and budget for the training. The question is, do the stakeholders really know what ails the performance of their team, and more importantly, are they qualified to make training recommendations that will improve their organization’s impact?

The root of this question is, how comfortable are we with delivering on perceived needs from across the organization? How confident are we that our internal client-facing consultants have the tools they need to truly get to the heart of organizational performance gaps? Do our training and development functional leads have access to, and fully understand, the data surrounding organizational performance?

I believe that our function needs to look to the field to provide direction in terms of priorities for the scarce investments organizations make in training. We often lack performance gap data, such as what the team should be delivering and the target level of employee productivity. It is only when we have a true perspective on expectations and the origination of those expectations, that we can find gaps. This is the quest of the learning leader: the more they can see and understand the gaps in performance, the more likely the initiatives put in place will hit the mark, move the needle and deliver improved performance to the teams they support.

This issue of Training Industry Magazine touches on identifying and understanding the performance gaps that surface in many parts of a company. I believe that the root of our struggle to achieve true strategic alignment with the business is getting access to the performance data we need to understand if we are meeting the intended goals. Our challenge is a manageable one, and we should start the dialogue with our stakeholders surrounding the target performance they seek, so we can make recommendations that can help close the gaps where we know employee development is the right answer.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about the point of views shared in the magazine.