Imagine this scenario- you are at your physician’s office for your annual physical exam. You begin the meeting with your doctor by describing some of the symptoms that your believe are creating the headaches you have been experiencing. How would you react if based solely on the description of the symptoms you provide the doctor, that they concluded the next step was to schedule neuro-surgery! You would rightly be surprised and expect some additional diagnostic tests to be conducted first- right?
This scenario while ludicrous is not that uncommon in the world of learning & development. It usually takes the form of a manager in a company stating that they “already know what they need” to focus upon. This conclusion is often based on the collective observations of managers across the company who can readily ‘describe the symptoms’ they observe while also offering opinions regarding the root causes.
Why does this matter?
If the observations of the company’s managers are not coupled with diagnostic results, it will be impossible to leverage these four (4) key insights in the formulation of learning plans:
- Understanding how the job-role specific competencies are linked to marketing strategies and plans
- Understanding the ‘felt need’ for development for each competency as perceived by managers and their direct reports
- Understanding the current absolute level of proficiency for each core competency as perceived by managers and their direct reports
- Understanding the ‘gaps’ vs the target/expected level of proficiency across each competency for both observed skills (on the job) and knowledge
What are the risks of acting without these insights?
A lack of understanding regarding:
- Alignment between managers and direct reports regarding the ‘current state’ starting point
- Readiness to learn- what is the organizations ‘posture’ toward pursuing development across all core competencies by both managers and their direct reports
- Relevance of specific competencies & any gaps to individuals job roles
- The rationale for prioritized individual & organizational needs
- Support for ‘on the job’ performance support (coaching) by managers with their teams
All of the insights detailed above help mitigate the risks that serve to hinder both learning & development program engagement & execution. Without engagement any program (even a well-designed one) will not gain traction or sustain itself and at best- execution will be spotty and inconsistent. In this case, it is wise to follow the example of medicine by undergoing some diagnostic assessment before recommending or committing to a course of learning & development ‘treatment’.