How to Align your Learning and Development Plan to Business Goals Set by Management


align learning and development to business goalsAt pd training, we invest quite a bit of time helping our business clients to align their learning and development strategies to meet their overall business goals.  This article shares some of our best- practice tips on how organsations might plan and deliver training scenarios based on some sample business goals.

What is a “Business Goal”?

A business goal is defined as a general statement of targeted achievement usually based on a timeframe, a percentage increase/decrease or other specific improvement. This planning is important for all businesses as it helps to explain the purpose and direction of the business as well as the actions or steps needed to reach a particular target or goal.

Many businesses believe that the only way to succeed is to grow and achieve bigger and better goals, so continuous improvement is part of many business plans.  So, what are some of the goals that a business might have? Obviously that depends on what the business does and where it derives its revenues.

Here are some examples of specific business goals:

Improve Sales by 10% in Asia

Improving sales can be challenging, but improving sales in other countries brings a whole new layer of complexity. As the Sales manager, you first need to understand the cultural differences that exist in the various Asian countries. There are things that should be done differently as compared to what is normally done in Western cultures. These cultural differences can have a major impact on an oganisation’s ability to achieve this goal and more importantly for the individual sales people to improve their top line.

In many organisations, the salespeople are basically the frontline of the business. So as an example, when doing business or meeting potential clients in an Asian country, body language can be quite different than in the West.  If your sales people’s body language does not match the local culture, they could actually have a negative impact on potential customers or partners, and this is just one small aspect of preparing for cross-cultural interactions.

So how would we align a training plan to this goal?  We suggest the following steps should be undertaken by the Learning and Development department to help the international sales team increase sales in Asia:

  1. Conduct personality profiles on all front line sales and business development staff
  2. Customise Sales training based on the personality types identified
  1. Customise Cross-Cultural training based on which country they will be targeting
  1. Customise sales-related training like body language and negotiation skills
  2. Conduct specific upselling/cross-selling training with all telephone staff
  3. Ensure skills transfer takes place using role play scenarios
  4. Record and review conversations taking place both in face-to-face sales presentations and on the telephone
  5. Champion those employees who contribute to the new goal
  6. Coach those employees who require further skills development

Another Example Business Goal Might be to Increase Sales Leads by 15%.

According to recent research, approximately 90% of adults use the internet to research products and services before they buy anything.  So it’s crucial for your business’ website to be easy to use and easy to find.  Unfortunately, getting people to find your business online can be easier said than done as some companies invest quite a bit of their marketing budgets into search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC), while others simply don’t.

So how do we align this goal to a training plan?

  1. First we must identify where our current leads are coming from.
  2. Now we must identify who in the organisation is responsible for generating leads.
  3. If the website is a primary lead generation tool, then it’s important for the web team to understand the basics of SEO to assure the site ranks as highly as possible for any primary keywords related to the company goods and services.
  4. If PPC is part of the lead generation, then it’s also important for the marketing team to understand best practice for PPC, so they get the most out of the budget while improving conversion rates on the site.
  5. A customised training program can then be implemented for both the web team to learn current SEO techniques and the marketing team to learn how to improve click-through-rates and quality scores (specific to Google Adwords) to assure they have the required skills to achieve a 15% increase in leads.
  6. Then a continuous testing and monitoring process should be implemented to analyse what is improving and what is not.

What if an organisation wants to complete their projects in 5% less time?  How do we align our training plan to achieve this goal?

align business goals to learning and developmentAs the saying goes, “time is money.” This cliché is especially applicable in the world of project management.  The more quickly projects are completed, the more quickly new products or services can be brought to market.  Getting projects completed 5% faster should have an “amplifier effect”, meaning a minimal 5% increase in project development time should provide more than a 5% increase in returns to the business.

Investing in proper project management software is one key aspect of improving time invested on managing projects, but it’s the people who use the software who are the key to achieving this goal.  A lot of people think they are project managers, but have not received any formal training on the best practices of this highly specialised field.

There could be several levels of project managers depending on the size and scope of the project.

  1. First you might identify the different levels of project managers required.
  2. Once the different levels are required you might conduct a survey to identify who needs to learn what skills.
    1. A simple way to do this is to find a project management course outline and have them tick which skills they are already have or vice versa, identify which skills they don’t have.
  3. Identify if any of the team require a specific industry certification like PMBOK or PMI qualification.
  4. Put a PM training plan in place that starts with the senior staff and rolls out to the more junior staff, so the more senior staff can support the junior staff during the training process.
  5. Maintain a record of training attended and map that back to the average time spent on each new project to get a sense of ROI or goal achievement.

Learning and Development Matched to Business Goals

It makes sense that both business and employee performance will increase significantly when an organisation effectively matches staff development to the company’s overall strategies.

For a business that wants to develop staff in alignment with business goals, certain aspects of the planning need to be in place:

  • Being ultra-specific with your business goals
  • Clearly communicating those goals to the L&D team
  • Transferring those goals into actionable training sessions

Also, you will need to have a learning and development strategy when aligning your employee’s development to the business goal. Strategies will depend on each goal and situation. That is why you need to have individual plans as suggested in the examples above.

With proper planning, and good inter-departmental communication, you’re more likely to achieve the desired results when aligning your staff development to the company’s overall business objectives.

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