In our obsession to put a value on our every action, we’ve devalued the importance of people development. We intuitively know that if we develop people they will fulfil their individual potential and contribute to the organisation at an even greater level than at present. By ignoring their needs they will leave the organisation or, worse still, become disengaged. Investing in people makes it explicit that we value their continuing contribution.
The challenge of measuring return on investment in learning and development (L&D) is a lost cause. Those demanding it know it can’t be directly correlated to a financial output measure. This mythical level of objectivity has been introduced as a tactic to reduce discretionary spend from budget proposals.
However, the case for measuring the value of investment isn’t helped by the rigour that supports L&D activity. Ask yourself:
- Do organisations value people development, believing it to be an intrinsic part of achieving their strategic ambitions?
- Does the leadership population truly understand the developmental requirements of its people?
- Do those charged with providing L&D solutions thoroughly assess the utility and validity of internal and external L&D programmes?
As a leader, how do you ensure content is fit for purpose, is delivered in a manner that encourages engagement and makes a difference back in the workplace?
The fundamental purpose of L&D is to create a skilled and confident workforce by giving people the tools to perform to their best within their role and to develop their potential to fulfil future roles. We won’t know the exact nature of these future roles but we can assume they will require a growing level of commercial and leadership acumen. In developing people to be at capacity we are in effect making businesses stronger and more resilient to future scenarios. We must therefore ensure that our investment in L&D adds value to our people, our organisational capacity and our long-term performance.
So, let’s stop searching for something that doesn’t exist and, instead, turn our attentions to the true driver of performance; the engagement and development of our people.