Opinion and Analysis

Investing in the right learning model is key

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By REKHA KENT

Posted  Tuesday, January 10   2017 at  17:46

It’s the start of a new year, and most of us are equipped with new hopes of conquering the world or maybe just something a bit more straightforward, like your job, a new skill or catapulting your business forward.

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Have you thought about your learning and development needs for 2017? In the annual survey of ‘elite organisations’ conducted by Fortune and the Hay Group, they found that “these companies don’t just claim people are their best asset; they behave that way.

They offer intensive leadership development programmes that address individuals’ needs and the organisation’s strategic goals.”

If people are an organisation’s best asset, then the skill level of the employees must be continually assessed and developed, which is the essence of building a learning culture.

Your business should focus on having a clear learning and development strategy that is tied in the strategic objectives of the business.

A study entitled ‘‘Profiting From Learning: Do Firms’ Investments in Education and Training Pay Off?’’ conducted by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) was designed to measure the link between money spent on training/learning and the companies’ total shareholder return (TSR).

TSR is defined as the change in (a company’s) stock price plus dividends. This measure was selected because many financial analysts consider it as the best measure of a stockholder’s actual return.

The ASTD found that the top quarter of the companies in the study group spent $1595 (Sh165,500) per employee while the average companies spent $680 (Sh70, 500) per employee per year.

The top companies had an average TSR of 36.9 per cent while companies investing below the average had only a 19.8 per cent TSR.

This shows that investing in learning pays off, but it is important to invest in the right learning. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

1. Reflect on 2016

Reflection is a powerful, yet an underutilized tool. Most of us have spent so much time planning for 2017 or mulling over our New Year’s resolution(s) for 2017 (which generally lasts approximately a month!) that we have forgotten to reflect on what we did or did not achieve in 2016.

How can we plan for the future without learning from the past? Here are two simple questions to ask yourself or your team: What am I/we proud of from 2016? What could I/we have done differently or better in 2016?

 The answers to these questions will help you feel more confident about what you did well: things you could repeat or sharpen. They will also help you identify what you need to change or develop.

2. Clarify your goals for 2017

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