Secrets of High-Performing Learning Organisations: 3 Ways to Power Up Your People for Maximum Performance

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Secrets of High-Performing Learning Organisations: 3 Ways to Power Up Your People for Maximum Performance

“Performance problems always involve people. Solutions are attached to the issues, and clients won’t often reveal that without some subtle questioning.”
— Nigel Harrison, Performance Consulting

For most business leaders, performance and productivity are key markers of organisational success. According to Towards Maturity’s Learning Benchmark Report, high-performing organisations who see performance improvement as a critical outcome of their work enjoy the benefits of reduced time to competence, increased productivity and improved organisational revenue.

Yet, whilst 62% of the top-performing organisations are enjoying these benefits, only 26% of the rest are achieving targets in this area. So where are they missing the mark?

For too many organisations, learning and performance are seen as separate entities – hence training programmes continue to be rolled out without any real alignment to business objectives. When research proves that learning improves performance 95% of the time, this ‘silo’ mentality has to change. The relevant departments should be working together to drive performance – and that means first looking to their people.

Imagine two different organisations: A and B. More than half of the employees in Organisation A admit they lack enthusiasm for their roles. They fail to see the relevance of their work and feel they are deficient in the skills they need to remain employable. Training, when it happens, is seen as nothing more than a way to get away from their desks. When the leaders in Organisation A come together to assess overall business performance, they discover that it has slumped over the past 12 months – and are left scratching their heads. What could possibly have gone wrong?

Now let’s take a look at Organisation B. In this organisation, business leaders have been working alongside L&D to discuss the key business aims for the next 12 months. L&D have also communicated with HR, line managers and the employees themselves to identify where people need upskilling. The relevant training has been assigned and feedback implemented regularly. The result? Employees in Organisation B can see a clear trajectory for development, understand the relevance of training, and as a result are able to apply what they’ve learned to their daily work. They know they are developing the right skills for the future and say they are motivated at work. When the leaders in Organisation B come together to evaluate overall business performance, they are delighted to discover a dramatic increase over the past 12 months.

Anne-Marie Malley, partner and UK human capital leader at Deloitte, says more must be done to support employees in developing their skills in the changing world of work. “Businesses are facing an uphill struggle to address these factors, which is leading to dissatisfaction, disengagement and despondency among employees,” she says. “Employers must offer more support to strengthen their workers’ skills and communicate the value their roles are bringing to their company, the economy and society as a whole.”. After all, an employee who receives relevant training will be far more confident and able to perform well at their job. This is where Organisation B got it right.

So where do we begin to focus on learning in terms of performance improvement?

1. Reframe Your Questions – Think Performance

When we consider how the learning landscape of the modern workplace is changing, we need to be asking a different set of questions to those traditionally asked during a learning needs analysis – one which shifts the focus towards performance and capability. This is where performance consulting can help. It’s an efficient way to find out:

  • Who needs guidance
  • What they need guidance with
  • Who has the knowledge to close any gaps
  • What is stopping them performing at the moment

By knowing where those gaps are, you can not only assign the right training, but use this knowledge to shape training needs in the future. The advantage of this is that it allows the learning to be designed in a way that’s aligned with the overall business strategy and performance aims.

2. Collaborate With Your Stakeholders

“This involves a change in learning culture in which individuals, managers and L&D teams are released to work together, share knowledge, solve problems and leverage innovative methods and technology to support the strategic goals of the organisation.”
– Andy Lancaster, CIPD

As discussed in our previous blog post, ‘The Changing Role of L&D Part 2: The Power of Collaboration’, working together maximises results. Remember our two example organisations? In Organisation B, the L&D department worked closely with HR and line managers, as well as the employees themselves. This helped them get a better overall picture of where people were at and where they needed to be. This makes sense when we consider that in high performing organisations, L&D works closely with the business to increase the impact of learning interventions. In fact, a staggering 88% ensure there is a communication plan in place for all key stakeholders.

Start talking to others outside of your department. If you’re clear on the overall business aims, you can make more informed decisions on how to achieve them.

3. Feedback and Evaluate…Continuously

According to Monster, many organisations don’t measure the impact of learning on performance. Reasons for this include:

  • A lack of resources
  • Confusion about what should be measured
  • A lack of staff who understand measurement methodologies
  • A lack of conviction that it matters which training is working best or having the most impact

It’s no use setting performance goals and aligning them with learning if we don’t know how these goals are going to be evidenced. What are your performance metrics? The combination you choose will be unique to your business. These could include:

For more information on tracking and measuring in a digital environment, see our previous blogs ‘Learning in the Modern Workplace Part 4: Using Measurement to Inform Your Curriculum’ and ‘Soft Skills are Intangible, So How Do You Measure and Monitor Them in a Digital Environment?

It is imperative that any improvements can be attributed directly to the the learning. To do this, take a baseline measurement of this criteria before rolling out training. This will allow you to compare with more recent data when evaluating.

Finally, make sure this feedback is continuous. A one-off performance review simply isn’t enough to affect performance in any meaningful way – it only provides an overall summary of past measures. To identify exactly which areas can be improved, feedback needs to be constant and embedded into workplace culture – not forgetting that employees need to be encouraged and provided with sufficient time to reflect on their own performance. Remember, this is a shared endeavour.

In Summary…

Maximising performance in your organisation is not complex and does not involve heavy investment in AI or robotics. It involves powering up your people. The latest technology or most innovative strategies are wasted if everyone is not working together towards a shared vision of success.

Remember, if you want to get the best out of your organisation, it all starts with getting the best out of your people.

If you would like to learn more about how our cutting-edge blended learning ecosystem can help you reach your organisational goals, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re always exploring key trends in the learning and development world, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when new insights are published:

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador