When organizations look to make sweeping changes to their businesses, it should naturally follow that chief learning officers, the executives responsible for educating the workforce on these changes, would be involved in the process from the beginning. However, according to a the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Annual Learning and Development survey of more than 600 CIPD members who hold roles as learning, training and development managers, roughly one-third of respondents said their involvement in organization change took place after all the major decisions had been made. In addition, the survey found that two-thirds of respondents feel that current training and development efforts following organizational change initiatives are not sufficient.
The survey, which was released April 6, also found that respondents largely agreed that the consideration of the learning, training and development implication of change was critical to its success, with 93 percent responding it is critical, 5 percent responded they weren’t sure and 2 percent responding it’s not critical. The respondents also characterized the benefits of their involvement, saying that it improved business results, led to greater employee satisfaction and more credibility for the learning and development profession.
The CIPD’s “Reflections on the 2006 Learning and Development Survey” report, Martyn Sloman, adviser of learning, training and development for CIPD, said that not surprisingly, respondents felt that learning, training and development professionals do not have enough involvement in organizational change and restructuring projects. According to the survey, only 24 percent of respondents felt their involvement was sufficient.
“If this is an accurate reflection of what is happening, in no way can we, as learning, training and development professionals, be satisfied with our standing and influence,” Sloman wrote in the report. “We do, however, have a clear understanding of what is causing the problem.”
According to Sloman, what’s causing the problem can be divided into two main groups. First, learning executives are involved too late in the process. The second group of factors involves trainings’ credibility in the organization. The survey asked respondents why thought there was insufficient involvement. The top three reasons cited were: ‘training and development implications are not thought through’ (56 percent); ‘not considered to be a key stakeholder in organizational change’ (46 percent); and ‘lack of senior presence on the change planning team’ (43 percent).
“All these factors are inter-related and reinforce each other,” Sloman wrote. “If the learning, training and development function isn’t perceived as a key stakeholder, we won’t be involved in the crucial decisions. As a result, we’ll only contribute late in the process, if at all. As a result, our reputation will suffer and we won’t be perceived as a key stakeholder — thus the cycle continues.”
Sloman said learning executives need to describe themselves differently to fix this problem. “The way we choose to describe ourselves does matter. We’re not simply about ‘identifying, designing, delivering and evaluating’ training interventions. What matters is the wider issues of supporting, directing and accelerating learning that is relevant to the organization,” Sloman wrote. “We need not only to develop a new mindset and skills, we need to demonstrate that we can deliver value over an extended time. It’s a long haul and one that will be extremely demanding.”
Other findings in the CIPD survey include:
- More than 80 percent of organizations encourage learners to take more responsibility for their own learning and development
- On-the-job training is identified as the most effective form of learning by 39 percent of respondents.
- Eighty-five percent believe that training is now more geared to meeting the strategic needs of the business than it was a few years ago.
- Seventy-nine percent report that learning and training now incorporates a much wider variety of activities and almost three-quarters (74 percent) agree that their jobs now involve a greater element of consultancy.
- Only a quarter believe that e-learning had significantly altered learning and training offerings.
- Two-thirds believe that learning and training is now taken more seriously by senior and line managers (63 percent and 68 percent respectively) and over half (58 percent) believe the learning and development department has far more credibility than before.
- Only 42 percent feel that a career in learning and training is now more appealing.