Great training organizations understand that aligning the efforts of the learning function to the needs and goals of the organization is critical to their success. By prioritizing and championing strategic alignment, learning and development (L&D) teams establish and secure their position as a value-adding function of the business, driving individual employee and overall organizational performance with their solutions.
Strategic Planning to Achieve Strategic Alignment
A primary method for achieving strategic alignment is strategic planning. Strategic planning falls under the administrative processes in the Training Process Framework, a model defining the processes and functions of effective learning organizations. Developing a plan for L&D requires learning and business leaders to understand the strategic goals, vision and mission of the organization, as well as identify the knowledge and skills employees need to move the organization forward.
Listening to All Stakeholders
In order to develop an effective strategic plan that serves the goals and people of the organization, learning leaders must not only listen to business leaders and stakeholders in the C-suite but also to their learners on the front lines. When training teams underestimate the value of or overlook the insights of their learners, they miss a critical opportunity to create impactful and relevant learning experiences that result in true behavior change and the application of skills on the job.
Is Training the Answer?
Strategic planning and the pursuit of strategic alignment in the learning function ensures that training teams develop and deliver the most effective solutions to the people they serve. Often, in assessing the learning needs of employees alongside overall business goals, learning leaders find that a formal training program is not the appropriate solution after all. Effective strategic planning helps L&D departments connect employees with the resources they need to achieve greater performance in their work, whether through company-wide knowledge-sharing social platforms or robust coaching and mentoring programs.
Remain Flexible and Agile
Strategic planning is a critical capability for forecasting the progress and success of an organization. However, it is impossible to precisely predict the future of a company, regardless of the amount of time dedicated to careful planning. As businesses experienced firsthand in 2020, often, organizations need to change and adapt their plans in response to unexpected events.
Regularly gauging and measuring progress toward your strategic goals can indicate whether your plan needs to be adjusted for a changing business environment. In addition to strategic planning, organizations must prioritize and cultivate the ability to remain flexible and agile amid uncertainty.