Good vendors do research — how else can they provide the products and services CLOs need to build effective enterprise education? New research from Softscape, however, uncovered that a very real disconnect still exists between learning and HR.
“We do these ‘State of the Talent Nation’ research reports every year,” said Christopher Faust, Softscape executive vice president of global strategy. “It’s a combination of validating our direction as a technology provider and at the same time, trying to overturn some key trends to give our customer base insight where best-of-class organizations are aiming so that they can all learn from lessons already learned.
“One of the questions was, ‘How many of you are planning an integrated talent management approach this year?’ Something like 24 percent were planning to do so, but what’s interesting is that, 12 months before, most people didn’t even know what talent management was.”
One research theme that surfaced was 86 perfect of companies polled did not think their workforce was adequately prepared to meet future goals. That figure is up 23 percent from the previous year.
After drilling down into customer data, Faust said deficiencies emerged from a siloed learning approach organizations were deploying to handle business problems such as leadership, goal alignment and learning performance measurement.
“Workforce performance is without a doubt one of the top initiatives, but aligning that with learning was a new top priority,” Faust said. “About 51 percent said they were deploying that sort of HR initiative within the next 12 months. Business drivers and some other key challenges that they were trying to solve were retention of top performers, and that requires ongoing development and manager effectiveness.”
An integrated approach is critical, Faust said, specifically, the need to link performance goals that actually drive development priorities or to link performance-driven learning to reward systems. The survey revealed HR metrics can be the basis for not just ROI but for bottom-line performance, and those data points can help to determine whether a workforce is prepared and what it will take to develop the right skills.
“The other trend that came about is when we talk about leadership development, literally trying to help managers be more effective on the job,” Faust explained. “What does that mean? It’s everything from manager training to getting the tools to actually help them manage their teams more. Manager development actually counted for 49 percent of the respondents saying that they saw that as impacting overall company performance.”
Business drivers such as retention and organizational effectiveness that push an integrated approach to talent management move in and about learning and development activities in much the same way a cat would twine around someone’s legs. Faust said the idea of culture and changing employee attitudes in particular continues to be one of the top concepts for the third year in a row.
“The lack of funding for different training and development needs is more of a tactical problem,” Faust said. “The bigger problem around that is the alignment factor. You can get more out of a training dollar when that training is focused on what the organization needs and not just soft skills that are part of a curriculum or program.
“Learning should be inherently connected to the organizational goals and individual employee goals or some sort of skill gap thereof. That connection or link, that alignment, is really the ultimate deficiency that came across in this whole survey — workforce performance aligned with learning is a top priority for 2007.”