Monday 7 January 2013

Making the Case for Competency-based Learning & Development

Part 1 of 7 of the CompetencyCoreTM Guide to Learning & Development

There are few jobs where employees are able to begin work and be fully effective on the first day of employment. Learning about the job and the organization is necessary in almost every case. This is especially true for certain occupations like police or military where the skills do not fully exist on entry and have to be taught from the start. Continuous learning and development is also necessary in sectors, such as Energy and Oil & Gas, where compliance to standards is essential for safety and productivity, and in sectors that are evolving rapidly, such as in Information Technology and Telecommunications.

It is well recognized that learning programs have to focus on the needs of the employees to ensure assigned functions are preformed correctly and productively. Yet, we regularly see organizations spending a great deal of money and time on unfocused, broad brush programs that do not necessarily address the learning needs of individual employees and the organization as a whole.

competency-based learning and development
Learning and Development is no longer a “nice to have” for most organizations. Competitive challenges are pushing organizations to institute or enhance their learning and development initiatives to improve organizational performance. As Aberdeen (2012) notes in a recent analysis on Learning and Performance, customer needs and marketplace forces change rapidly. In-demand workers, move from organization to organization, and from job to job quickly. In addition, organizations are leveraging temporary and contingent labor more and more to rein in costs related to employee salaries and respond to quickly changing market characteristics. As well, companies are going to market through channel partners and resellers. Whereas in the past learning and development tended to extend only to internal resources, in best practice companies learning is now being extended to the broader organizational ecosystem involved in the delivery chain. Organizations can no longer afford the time or money to invest in learning that will not directly impact their ability to execute business strategy.

Increasingly learning and development costs are a major part of an organization’s budget and getting the best result from the expenditure is very important. Competency-based learning targeted to specific employee needs is an alternative that reduces costs and focuses learning to significantly improve the Return on Investment.

Competencies provide the standards against which employee development needs can be assessed and priorities can be set against the business needs of the organization. They can be used as the foundation for designing targeted programs with learning outcomes that directly link to the competency requirements. Finally, competencies provide the framework for measuring the success of the learning initiative in terms of the extent to which the employees can perform to the standard required and deliver results that ensure the ongoing success of the organization. In this way, costs are controlled, organizational needs are met and employees become more productive.

This series focuses on Learning and Development and how a Competency-based approach can be structured to significantly improve the learning and development process.

The next blog in this series examines facts, figures and findings of a recent study on Learning & Development. Sign up to our blog’s mailing list through the form on the right-hand side to receive the rest of the series in your inbox.

HRSG is a leader in competency-based learning and development solutions and training. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Want to learn more? Competency-based Talent Management, or CbTM, is the best practice for defining job requirements and building effective HR programs to develop skilled, engaged and productive workforces. Download this Best Practice Guide to learn how competencies can increase workforce effectiveness and improve business practices.

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