Putting Learning First

A learning and performance solution that works best is one that takes people into account based on the value they deliver to an organization and, concurrently, the value the organization delivers to them.

Talent management is grounded in learning, or at least it should be. Many solutions are attempting to create a one-size-fits-all system, but in most of these approaches, the full insight into learning is lost. When an enterprise looks at training and development as it relates to learning, and understands how to measure results based on performance, this function evolves into much more than “checking a box.” It becomes a critical foundation for growth—creating a win-win scenario for the organization, the employee, and all stakeholders.

Where Does Learning Exist?

Many years ago, the talent management market was segmented as it related to systems. HR handled such things as onboarding, recruiting, and performance management. Training led things such as specialized certifications, qualifications, and courses. Learning typically came at the end of the spectrum. Eventually, the industry began to see an integration of these various systems. There was an inherent desire to tie together all the various pieces of information that relates to the workforce.

This created two schools of thought: Do I want a high-level view that gives me access to everything from recruiting through to training and learning, since things such as compensation models are built into the initial data capture when an employee is hired? Or do I want a deeper and more robust view into learning, how it affects organizational and staff growth beyond human capital management, based on true performance?

Learning does not exist in a vacuum; it is tandem to everything an organization does and it constantly must evolve to meet not only such demands as compliance and certification requirements, but also advancements in industry knowledge and know-how.

Putting Learning First

As a fundamental human process, learning motivates individuals, helps build successful teams, and fuels competitive organizations. Organizations that prioritize learning initiatives inevitably achieve their objectives. A learning and performance solution that works best is one that takes people into account based on the value they deliver to an organization and, concurrently, the value the organization delivers to them.

Whether yours is a commercial enterprise, member-based organization, or government entity, putting learning first creates measurable value and provides a strong foundation for extending learning beyond employees to the value chain, including partners, members, and customers. In fact, it’s because every organization is so different, driven by unique industry and enterprise requirements, that a learning-centric model works best. Simply put, an organization needs a system that goes beyond workflow into learning that is tied to performance management.

Learning Drives Performance

Enhanced performance and increased productivity are the natural outcomes of learning, and the value of learning is measured by performance. If you are like most organizations, one of your greatest challenges is finding and retaining the right talent. Doing that correctly means understanding how to develop and measure performance. That goes much further than training.

 If you Google “learning,” the Merriam-Webster site will give you this definition: “the activity or process of gaining knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something.” If you look up “performance,” this same site defines it as “the act of doing a job, an activity, etc.” In order for your organization to understand the full value of learning, you must be empowered with the knowledge of how to measure the associated performance.

Let’s say you have a project manager who wants to become a senior project manager. The employee’s desire for accomplishment is automatically built into a learning system that is synonymous with performance because it takes into account all of the values associated with that act. A performance-based learning system will uncover and measure that information, and make it available across the enterprise.

Make Learning Yours

A truly connected learning and performance platform should seamlessly integrate with your technology ecosystem. To create an effective learning platform, you need to take into account what’s best for everyone involved—including your learners, decision-makers, and IT teams. With flexible technology advances, the need to try to squeeze everything into one linear system is no longer necessary, and, in fact, is counter to the true nature of innovation. Systems can be more easily connected; cloud-based models can deliver enormous scale; and existing legacy systems can be maximized without losing technology investments.

In addition, your technology needs are going to vary based on many factors, including the types of systems you already have in place, the IT staff you have on hand, your goals for such things as mobile delivery and social-based networks, and much more.

The good news is that you can find a learning system that’s right for you. Whether you’re ready to embrace the cloud, still working behind the firewall, or want to deploy a hybrid model, today’s technology should give you the ability to control as much or as little as you want when it comes to your learning platform. The key word is flexibility. Look for a platform that is driven by your specific business processes, to provide adaptable deployment options and be able to scale efficiently.

The Value of Learning

In the “old days,” organizations tended to look at people as merely an organizational asset. They were assigned a point value of sorts that dictated hiring, advancement, and, if necessary, firing. But we better understand today that employees are the heartbeat of an organization’s success. It is ironic that in the infancy of technology, people feared they would be replaced by machines. The truth is that as technology has evolved, we have gained the ability to influence even greater intrinsic employee value with systems that not only foster better learning, but give us the tools to more accurately measure it.

We’ve all heard the adage: “Never stop learning,” and its value cannot be understated. Developing your staff in a way that delivers learning first, assesses performance, and fosters collaboration will give you the competitive edge you need to thrive.

Jason Marceau is chief operations officer for Meridian Knowledge Solutions (http://www.meridianks.com), fueling operational success to help ensure Meridian’s market leadership in learning and performance management. Meridian’s technology platform empowers enterprises, governments, and member-based organizations to develop their people by delivering learning, assessing performance, and fostering collaboration.