How to Develop Effective L&D Programs

5 keys to creating a training program that attracts employees, builds your brand, and motivates your team.

Most businesses understand how learning and development (L&D) helps retain talent, improves performance, and benefits the bottom line. Yet, according to McKinsey, 60 percent of today’s training programs are outdated and disconnected from strategic objectives—and thus of little value. Here are five keys to developing an effective L&D program that will help your teams and managers view L&D as a strategic investment that impacts business growth:

1. Align L&D with the organization’s overall goals. An L&D program must support the business objectives—meaning you as the L&D leader must understand those objectives and how your training strategy helps achieve them. Reevaluate that alignment every year, or when the company undergoes a material change. You’ll help embed a company culture (enhancing brand) and engage team members with the company’s values as an added result.

2. Garner buy-in from HR and leadership. Fortunately, “alignment” and “buy-in” can be achieved simultaneously. Partnering with HR and leadership helps you understand the company’s goals. And working with these partners results in their buy-in, further embedding learning in the organizational culture, and accelerating the company to achieve its goals.

3. Create learning experiences employees will remember. The biggest challenge of any L&D program is people retaining and applying what they’ve learned. Research cited by the Harvard Business Review suggests that breaking up content into smaller chunks that can be interwoven into other activities enhances learning and improves retention. With time at a premium, learners prefer shorter lessons with one core idea. They’ll make time for it, and are more likely to apply it during their workday.

4. Secure L&D funding. An L&D program must be viewed as an investment. Even if you’ve implemented #1 and #2 effectively, funding may still be a concern. Work with leadership to agree on priorities for L&D funding. If budget remains an issue, start with a pilot and measure results. Scaling may be an option.

5. Make L&D’s impact measurable. Build your program with an eye toward how you’ll measure its impact, in terms of company goals and each employee’s development. A best practice is to give employees tools to track their own progress. These self-assessments provide invaluable feedback and data that can be aggregated to make improvements and show a contribution in employee satisfaction and performance. Plan to demonstrate these in terms of ROI, and you can guarantee the continuity of L&D programs for the future.

Eric Girard is the CEO of Girard Training Solutions. He has helped Fortune 500 companies improve the performance of managers and employees for more than 30 years, specializing in developing new managers and their team management skills.