Establishing business priorities is a cornerstone principle of business success. Organizations have always had to frequently re-establish new objectives to meet the ever-changing business landscape, and this has become even more important in the last couple of years. While setting business priorities is extremely important, giving your organization and its employees the skills they need to reach those goals is even more important. Learning and development leaders can have massive positive impacts on overall organizational success, especially when it comes to establishing and executing upon business priorities.
For many organizations, understanding business priorities is much more important that understanding business capability. Why? Because you can always change your business capability through professional development, talent development, and learning programs. Therefore, using current talent and resources as a metric will ultimately limit the scope of what organizations believe are attainable. With employees at the heart of every successful business venture, here are some ways in which learning and development leaders can contribute to the establishment of attainable, effective business priorities.
- Create training programs that are tailored to business outcomes. One of the best ways to aid in the establishment of business priorities is to ensure employees are ready to tackle new goals. Learning and development has always been focused on developing employees for organizational success, so creating training programs that align with management priorities can greatly increase outcomes. For example, if industry trends suggest a need for better communication, teamwork, and problem solving, proactively establishing a program that improves employee soft skills can help your organization more forward quicker and more efficiently.
A reactive L&D approach can also be valuable for your organization. Waiting for management to establish clear priorities and supporting those with an effective learning and development program will help your organization succeed, and will typically get more upper management buy-in.
- Provide performance support through times of change. Often, new business priorities go hand in hand with new business processes. Management will often implement new priorities in response to changing business trends, and your L&D department can do just the same. Performance support is an essential part of employee development and performance, and establishing and effective program that supports growth is a great step toward reaching business goals. The next time your organization shifts priorities, listen to your employees. Are they struggling to keep up with what is most important? Do they have questions about how best to perform new or more important tasks? Consider creating a performance support system that provides them with the resources they need to meet new objectives.
- Communicate purpose and necessity of priorities. One of the most undervalued aspects of L&D is its ability to work alongside HR departments to create a culture of communication and collaboration. Employees want to know why, how, and when priorities and processes are changing. L&D departments can be instrumental in providing that information and developing a support system that ensures employees feel they are valued and recognized. Brand training is a common way in which companies increase employee knowledge and communicate reasoning behind changes. Consider implementing some form of training or development opportunity that brings employees closer to your organization and their work within the business.
Establishing business priorities, understanding employee needs, and creating an effective support solution are all objectives your business should have in mid-2021. Let’s take a look at examples of business priorities and how they can shape your next L&D program.
- Adoption of stances on social and societal issues. Every company should ensure their employees are representing their mission, values, and vision well. If establishing a clear stance on social issues is an increasing priority, your L&D team can work to create a supplemental program that educates employees on company protocol and ensure they understand why their employer is taking a particular stance.
- Implementation of mental health support services. Many companies in 2021 are choosing to provide more mental health resources for their employees. This aligns with a greater trend toward prioritizing employee wellbeing. Resources are only effective if employees know how to use them, though. If your organization is prioritizing employee wellbeing and mental health, consider implementing a L&D program that gives employees the tools they need to access these resources.
- Increased utilization of contractors to complete specific work. Contractors have been used in businesses for a variety of tasks in the past, but many companies are now prioritizing the onboarding and usage of them across departments. If your organization is planning on ramping up contractor usage, consider implementing an L&D program that orients them and ensure they adhere to company policies.
The business world is changing rapidly at the moment, and your learning and development program needs to be agile to best support your business. With great changes to overall company priorities, now is a great time for your organization’s L&D department to create positive change by implementing a variety of different programs. Keep in mind that both proactive and reactive approaches will work well:
Proactive: anticipating learning needs based on industry needs and crafting agile solutions
Reactive: Identifying employee needs and developing comprehensive programs based off those needs.
Finally, keep in mind that learning and development can provide general support to organizations when working through change. Employees will always appreciate programs and initiatives that focus on helping them adapt to new working environments, and learning and development departments (or partners, depending on how your company operates) can provide exactly that.