Essential Tips for Modern Learning and Development Plans

Johanna von Sterndorff
November 29, 2021 | 6 min read
In this blog post we will take a look at creating company Learning and Development plans and discuss what it takes to enable effective learning.

In my previous blog post, I talked about how important training and development is, that there is no training that suits everyone, that a junior employee might have different learning objectives to a senior, and how a career plan is helpful when setting employee’s goals. This blog deals more with encouraging employees to reach their goals and discover their potential by involving them in your company’s Learning and Development plans. Aligning business goals with employee goals will have a positive impact for the company as well as the employees – an engaged and motivated employee is a more productive employee.

Step by step

The purpose of the plan should inspire and help employees to grow within the company and to gain competence and confidence. To create such a plan, firstly, it is necessary to identify the role profiles that exist in your company. It’s important to define the purpose of each role, the hierarchy of authority, reporting lines, and what are the necessary steps to proceed in development. Let’s take a look at an example from our company – the purpose of an ETL Developer role who, among others, is identifying data storage requirements.

The ETL Developer designs, develops, and supports with complex applications to extract, transform, and load data. Within this role there will be different levels of seniority, with appropriate requirements that the role demands, such as:

  • Trainee

  • Associate

  • Professional

  • Senior

  • Principal

Career pathways should show how to achieve progression and promotion and what skills are needed, and how to obtain them.

The next step is to define roles and responsibilities. Generally, it’s good to have clarity in competencies and responsibilities because when employees know what is required and expected from their side, it’s much easier for them to do their best to fulfil their role. Another important point is to review the job descriptions of existing roles and see if they reflect what you want employees to do.

A job description should clearly define knowledge requirements to successfully manage the role. It’s good to not overdo it right at the beginning. Each role should have defined basic requirements that are necessary for the performance of the job. It’s not necessary for everyone to be an expert in everything and it’s good to know that knowledge can be gained through experience and training. Identify the attitude and behavior that fit your organizational culture and are consistent with your vision, mission, and values.

To be able to choose the appropriate training and to get the outcomes you want out of it, you will need the job description. Nowadays, there are countless training possibilities, so let’s take a look at some of these.

Types of employee training

Basically, we can divide training into online and offline. Online training is flexible as it’s web based, employees will have access from anywhere when working remotely, and they can access the training at any time, which allows them to choose their own time and pace to complete it. Online training is cost effective – it allows employees to pass several courses in a relatively short time due to the fact that the personal presence of a lecturer isn’t required.

When talking about offline training there are multiple advantages. A good lecturer, who can enthuse their listeners, can answer possible questions immediately. Offline training allows easy interaction between participants including the possibility to ask questions and/or try things out there and then. Below, for inspiration, we list some additional training options:

  • Onboarding training: new staff get to know how the company works and how to master their role.

  • Buddy training: it’s usually included in the onboarding process – an experienced colleague helps the new member of staff to find their way in the new environment and is available to answer questions or help solve problems should they arise.

  • Shadowing: junior employees can learn from an experienced employee by watching how they work.

  • Mentoring: this serves to support and encourage an employee to manage their own learning, to develop skills, improve their performance, and to discover hidden potential.

  • Rotation: an opportunity for an employee to try out the role of someone else – it makes it easier to understand their role in a broader context.

  • Self-study: where an employee does the training themself – it can be either online or offline.

  • Webinar: a lecture that is broadcast live, usually via the internet, with the possibility to discuss and ask questions during it or at the end.

  • E-learning (digital learning): this is great for training a large number of people at the same time or where the training must be the same for everyone e.g., safety training.

  • Workshop: it can be internal, external, online, or offline but is usually based around groups of people coming together to be trained by a trainer, generally with some form of (group) participation.

To be able to choose the right training you will need to use the job description to help you identify the learning outcomes to fulfil the given role. Now the difficult part begins where you have to determine the appropriate training to meet the needs for each role, and at the same time, those which will suit your company.

It is important to support employees so that they can put their acquired knowledge from training into practice. Just because an employee has participated in training doesn’t mean that they have mastered the skill. Effective adult learning, which was developed by Lambardo & Eichinger in 1996 and also known as the 70:20:10 approach, shows us that the development is 70% from on-the-job experiences, 20% from interaction and collaboration, and just 10% from formal learning and courses. Therefore, give your employees the opportunity, and encourage them, to put their knowledge into practice.

Monitoring progress

Knowing that every employee is different and will need different training will help achieve results. Some of them might be quick learners whereas others learn at slower pace. It’s important that you stay supportive and flexible with your employees. An effective way to monitor the individual learning and development progress of each employee is to utilize a personal career plan that includes career goals, skills, and interests, but also the development review. Regular meetings with the line manager allow discussion of their progress, possible difficulties they may be having, improvements that could be made, which training might be required or helpful to gain the required knowledge. It also gives the line manager an overview of which part in the development process the employee is at, at that moment in time.

Should you have doubts about what kind and form of training to provide to your employees, the best way forward is to simply ask your employees. Soliciting feedback, by interacting directly with the very people that will take the training, about their personal needs and training preferences, what motivates them, etc., will always gain you valuable information. All of this will help you with the creation of, and the continuous improvement of, your company’s Learning and Development plan.

Johanna von Sterndorff
Recruitment Consultant DACH

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