Learning & Development: Your Strategic Ally

September 01, 2017
MRA Edge
Strategic Planning
Read time: 3 mins

Comprehensive, strategic learning & development (L&D) programs are vital to continued organizational success, growth, and adaptability in today’s ever-changing business environment. Very different from training, strategic L&D prepares the organization to achieve current initiatives and enables attainment of long-term objectives.

If your organization does not yet have a true L&D strategy, consider these three points:

Strategic Alignment
Less than ten percent of all organizations successfully execute their strategy—and the reason boils down to a failure to align strategy with people. L&D aligns with organizational strategy, monitors the competitive landscape, and continually evaluates the ‘moving target’ of knowledge and skills gaps preventing the attainment of business objectives. Every learning event is strategically designed to address these gaps, and each developmental interaction is an opportunity to reinforce and align with the desired organizational culture. L&D offers a business-driven strategy, not simply a learning-driven agenda, aligning talent with the immediate and long-term business needs in a proactive, intentional manner.

Strategic Succession Planning
For too long, succession planning has focused on backfilling current roles. Strategic succession planning identifies which roles may become obsolete, and what new knowledge, skills, or abilities will be needed for the future. Rapid technological advances are dynamically changing the competitive landscape, the types of jobs available, and the skills and knowledge needed, creating both skills-obsolescence and an expansive gap in needed skills. Without an L&D strategy, organizations (and their talent) are left behind—generating a perfect storm complete with severe competitive threats, lowered morale, and increased attrition.

Strategic Talent Acquisition & Management
Businesses are operating today with four generations actively in the workforce—bringing a wide range of skills along with technical as well as tacit knowledge. But this composition is changing rapidly as, each day, more people retire than join the workforce. Nearly every organization struggles with staffing in this tight labor market. Quality candidates have more options and are demanding higher compensation, more robust benefits packages, and improved employer-sponsored programs. In a market where the costs for recruiting can far exceed the costs to train an internal candidate, a fiscally responsible L&D strategy must include a comprehensive system for "growing your own" talent. L&D prepares your talent for success in their current roles and arms them with new skills for future roles—a sustainable competitive advantage in attracting, developing, and retaining talented employees. Still not convinced? Millennials are projected to make up more than 50 percent of the workforce by 2020—and research has shown that the most important factor in job satisfaction for this demographic is the opportunity to develop professional skills for the future.

Leveraging strategic L&D will allow your business to not only support long-term objectives but also allow you to develop your talent needs of the future. Are you maximizing strategic L&D?

Source: Andie Gebert, Learning & Development Manager, MRA - The Management Association