4 Tips for Creating a Strategic Learning and Development Plan
How do I build a 5-year plan for employee learning and development that will excite and engage others in the company to ensure adoption across the organization?
I was leading a human resources roundtable event last month when one of the participants asked this question. As part of an ongoing series of peer advisory roundtables, this group of senior HR executives met in a virtual setting to discuss their most pressing challenges and opportunities. The ensuing discussion was enlightening for each member of the group as they worked together to brainstorm solutions based on their own experiences and best practices.
Here are a few of the top suggestions, on the topic of creating effective learning and development plans, that emerged from this roundtable event:
1. Identify needs based on the organization’s strategic plan
Integrate the learning and development plan with the organization’s strategic vision. If your company’s strategy outlines five main areas, for example, align your talent development plan around the human capital needs that will be required to carry out that strategy. Break down big-picture goals into specific tasks and skill sets that will be essential for growth. Finally, define which skills and talent needs can be developed from within the organization – compared with what talent you may need to acquire externally.
2. Rally others by asking for input early and often
By asking for input and involving key stakeholders in the process, you can reduce missteps, boost buy-in at all levels, and elevate the profile of the task at hand. Asking functional leaders to “co-create” a talent development plan with you will also give them a sense of ownership and accountability going forward. Talent development is a shared responsibility, and this planning process should be no different.
It’s likely that some people within your leadership ranks may have worked through a similar process in the past. By inviting those with experience to be your project champions – and asking them to help craft the strategy and point out potential pitfalls – you can accelerate your own path to success, while also building relationships with other influential executives.
3. Make data-based decisions
By leveraging data that may already be at your disposal, you can create models that demonstrate future needs based on expected growth of the organization. Additionally, outlining hard costs related to development from within versus acquiring skills through new hires will help you estimate ROI on leadership development efforts. Solid analysis of key data related to talent development will help you build a business case around your plan.
4. Separate milestones into quarterly or annual achievements
Since the organization’s strategic plan is likely to have a three- to five-year horizon, your talent development plan should follow a similar pattern. Identify milestones that roll up to the larger plan, since these periodic achievements will allow you to measure progress at different intervals.
One of our roundtable participants shared how her company (a global multi-billion dollar food and beverage company) further dissects these milestones into “activities.” Leaders are asked to describe which specific activities will lead to success and achievement of the established milestones. The learning and development team is then able to craft a plan to train for those skills.
The participant who shared her challenge with the group walked away from this event with several great ideas for moving forward – each of them based on the experience of her peers.
What would you share from your experience with building effective learning and leadership development plans?