The disconnect between strategy and practice

In our recent webinar series, we discussed the findings from our Learner Intelligence Report.

Written by Helen Essex
Published 15 December 2020
The disconnect between strategy and practice
In our latest, interactive webinar series, Gent Ahmetaj (Head of Research), Nahdia Khan (Head of Learning Community and Customer Voice), and our audience members discuss and reflect on the state of L&OD.

Held at the end of an extraordinary year, these webinars focused on the main takeaways from our Learner Intelligence Report Published in November 2020, it includes reflections on COVID-19.

Read on to discover the key takeaways from the series.

Takeaway 1: Learning is the only competitive advantage of the future

In our report, one major concern is flagged again and again: L&OD teams are struggling to move away from having a transactional to a transformational impact on their organizations. We asked our audience why.

A lively discussion revealed that COVID-19 has changed expectations of L&OD. Nahdia pointed out that L&OD leaders are now expected to facilitate many more digital tools – far faster.

Our audience revealed they’re not being involved in conversations beyond the basic requirements for workplace learning. This means they miss out on discussions about business problems that learning can solve.

Next, Gent shared the four “critical levers” of an effective learning culture:
  1. Growth
  2. Transformation
  3. Productivity
  4. Profitability/sustainability
It’s worth getting these levers right. Our research reveals that high-performance learning practices increase return on assets and decrease turnover.

What’s more, these levers often facilitate individual wellbeing, positive diversity and inclusion, employee retention and a faster response to changing business conditions.

Takeaway 2: Employee perceptions matter

As Gent put it, “there’s no time to waste: examining employees’ views is an urgent requirement if organizations want to align themselves with the top performers.”

Our research shows that attitudes are inextricably linked to outcomes. So, the more positive an employee’s perception of their organization’s learning strategy, the more likely they are to engage with it and see success.

In the webinars, we shared:
  • Stats on the learning tools, resources, methods and approaches that employees consider essential.
  • The fact that team and manager collaboration is pivotal to the way employees learn.
  • Our findings on employees’ use of search engines to facilitate their own learning – and how to consider this behavior when making learning resources accessible.

Takeaway 3: People learn all the time

Many employees are looking for learning opportunities – and, in some cases, are paying out of their own pocket.

Unsurprisingly, we saw that online learning – as opposed to classroom or blended style – increased since the onset of COVID-19 (from 36% in 2019 to 62% in 2020).

We encouraged our audience to think about the impact of remote working to better understand employees’ motivations. In many cases, connecting with staff members has become more formal during the pandemic. So, are you making the most of this time to learn more about what motivates your people? And encouraging them to connect with their learning ecosystem?

Listen back to the webinar to hear Nahdia and Gent’s predictions for the learning landscape in 2021 and beyond.

Takeaway 4: Self-determined learning is key

As Gent said, “Self-determined learning can be quite aspirational – and we don’t want it to be that way”.

Self-determined learning, or heutagogy, summarises the relationship between L&OD and employee outcome. This, Gent explains, “helps shorten the distance between learning and development strategy and what actually happens in practice.”

Our research reveals that top-performing organizations involve employees by using a framework of four principles:
  1. Guidance
  2. Autonomy
  3. Agreement
  4. Review
Each step helps employees understand what they need – rather than having it dictated it to them – and drives an organizational culture of self-determined learning.

Winning in 2021

So, how can organizations come out the other side of the pandemic? And, in the words of a webinar participant, “create an environment that allows employees to have a growth mindset and explore learning”?

Nahdia suggested that, in most cases, L&OD teams are rising to that challenge. And that having clear oversight and understanding of which learning activities are working well – and what can go – will help organizations navigate the challenging times ahead.

To finish, we’d love to pass on the inspiring message shared by one of our attendees: “May the joy of learning be greater than the fear of failure”.

Miss it? Watch back the webinar.

About the author

Helen Essex

Helen Essex

Campaign Marketing Manager
Helen has worked in B2B marketing for over eight years, and is continually looking for ways in which to bring Mind Tools for Business' story to audiences around the world. She enjoys working closely with clients and teams right across our business to understand how L&D is shifting and developing and incorporating this information into creative, dynamic campaigns.

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