Posted by Caveo Learning ● December 22, 2015

Will Learning Leaders Finally Care About Measurable Value in 2016?

missing_the_pointThis time last year, we at Caveo Learning were optimistic that 2015 would be the year that the learning & development industry "got it"—that there would be a mass realization that L&D needs to deliver real business value, above all else.

The good news is that the wave is building—more and more learning leaders are figuring out that the best way to gain influence, budget, and that proverbial seat at the table is by aligning the learning function with the business and becoming a true organizational partner. The bad news is that the wave has a long way to go yet before it crests, and we'll have to defer our optimism for the industry to 2016.

Case in point: much of the discussion at the Fall CLO Symposium remained stuck in that outdated way of thinking that has kept L&D ensconced in a bubble, oblivious to business needs or realities. I share the dismay of Dave Vance, executive director of the Center for Talent Reporting, who was incredulous that so many learning leaders continue to place employee engagement, not alignment to business goals, at the apex of the L&D mission.

As Vance says, employee engagement is absolutely a positive thing. Hooray for engagement. But if that's your laser-focused objective, you're missing the point.

The L&D function exists first and foremost to help the business achieve its objectives, whether that means increasing sales performance or improving worker safety or mastering compliance standards. Every learning initiative we undertake must be tightly linked to organizational goals, and we need to be able to clearly and directly articulate—using business metrics, not learning metrics—how our activities fit into that overarching strategy.

View the On-Demand Webinar: Learning Leaders: Stop Overthinking ROI

Maybe it's because as learning professionals, we're naturally inquisitive people, and we sincerely believe in the notion of learning for learning's sake. While that's a nice sentiment, it doesn't pay the bills, and it's not why the business has an L&D function. If you're a learning leader who is laser-focused on employee engagement, chances are you're also wondering why you don't have the trust and respect of your business partners.

As Caveo CEO Jeff Carpenter harshly but honestly put it in the December 2015 issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine: "The learning function has been a horrible business partner." It doesn't have to be this way, but we as an industry must first change our way of thinking, from learner-centric to business-centric.

Topics: Metrics & Measurement, Learning Strategy