Training just isn’t working* final article

Training just isn’t working* final article

This is the last of a series of articles that have been put together to explain why we believe L&D is failing to deliver real results and behavioural change.

But we did refer right at the start to the * in the title, a caveat. Because there are examples where learning is having a massive impact on performance in organisations.

We passionately believe that learning should, and can, be a key driver at the core of every organisation – having a significant impact on performance, engagement, culture and business success. For management teams and those in L&D and ‘people’ positions now is a good time to take a step back and work through some of the fundamental questions and challenges that have been posed.

  • Why are you investing in learning? What do you want learning to do for you? What is the key outcome / return you want from your internal L&D function and/or the external specialists that you buy in?
  • Who is the customer / consumer of L&D? Who defines the need and the learning offer?
  • What is the learning offer?
  • How can learning be most effectively delivered?
  • How do we embed and lock-in L&D into performance as effectively as possible? How can we create an environment that elevates L&D? How do we create more individual accountability for ensuring learning is embedded?

Having worked at a senior level in internal L&D teams, and having provided successful external L&D consulting and delivery support to many clients, we think that most of the focus has been on establishing a great learning offer and having a great catalogue of programmes and workshops available for people at all levels. All that may well be delivered with real passion through great trainers and/or technology.

The problem is that this has been built the wrong way round. The focus has to be on learning customers, helping them to identify their problems and challenges, then providing access to solutions and finding ways to embed learning into performance.

When we have worked through these questions with the executive teams and their internal L&D professionals  and covered some of the possible ways forward and solutions, there has often been a sense of trepidation:

  • “How will this impact line managers and our L&D team?
  • “Most of my time and L&D team do face to face delivery – are they going to be needed?”
  • “How can we adapt and refocus?”

Natural fears, but we believe that there are tremendous opportunities for those involved in learning. For a long time there has been a sense of frustration amongst L&D and HR professionals about the way they are seen by people across organisations – often as ‘support teams’ or admin, sitting on the periphery of the business. Now is the time to change this, and create something that will have a huge impact on people and organisations.

There needs to be a change of mindset and behaviours which will be led by re-defining the role of a modern L&D person, but this should be viewed with excitement, not nervousness. Instead of L&D designer, or deliverer, view your role as ‘something far bigger’

For example – theGrogroup have a wide range of expertise and solutions to improve individual, and collective, business performance. The solutions do include learning opportunities and programmes but we make it clear that we are a business that is focused on enabling business change. One reason for this is that we offer other business solutions, but the main reason is that we also see what we do as ‘something far bigger’.

theGrogroup are experts in advising organisations on how best to improve performance by effectively executing and embedding required change. We do this through our proven framework; clarifying strategy and change needs, enabling people through skills, behaviours and mind-set development and creating the systems, processes and infrastructure to lock in change as the new normal.  


Our framework was created to explain what we do, what our role is and how we add value to individuals and organisations. It was developed from a similar set of fundamental questions to the ones that we have covered in these articles. We think it could be useful in helping L&D people design their ‘something bigger’ role and bringing together the key messages we have focused on.

So what is the ‘something bigger’? We saw a post by David James (Chief Learning Officer and Podcast Host at The Learning & Development Podcast) recently where he stated:

“L&D needs to disrupt their own focus and skill set before the disruption comes from elsewhere. We need to think agile, digital, and contextual and take the opportunity to become the best-connected and most effective department in the business.”

Some thoughts that may help L&D to deliver more value based on theGrogroup framework:

Need: think about taking steps to –

  • Have a clear grasp of the business strategy and ‘top down’ view of the skills and behaviours that need to be developed to drive performance
  • Establishing the real ‘right-now’ and relevant to role learning needs of L&D customers – all of the individuals within the business.
  • Ensuring all individual needs are aligned, with role expectations, KPIs and performance measures – and that these are aligned with the business strategy.

Enable: a constant focus on –  

  • What is the learning offer to solve customer needs? How can we make it more accessible?
  • What can we do to help customers ‘pull’ more relevant learning, at the right time?
  • How do we make our ‘push’ learning more relevant and impactful?
  • How can we use technology to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of this process?
  • Social learning – how can we get people learning from others?

Lock In: investing time in –

  • Positioning learning as a core business driver (alongside sales and profit) and creating a powerful L&D brand based on proof of impact on performance
  • Helping learning to become part of everyday language and conversation
  • Ensuring senior management are INVESTED in L&D
  • Linking L&D experiences with performance and progression management systems
  • Creating effective KPIs and measures, linked to learning outcomes, that will incentivise individuals and teams to action new behaviours.
  • Creating ways to pass on more responsibility and accountability for embedding learning to individuals.

Measure: continually reflect on your impact –

  • How am I and/or the team doing?
  • How engaged are individuals with learning? How is it perceived across the organisation
  • What quantitative and qualitative measures can we use to demonstrate improved individual and collective performance?

If you would like to discuss how we could support you, or your organisation, in developing an effective learning function that is driving performance, please email Kate or contact us to arrange a meeting with one of our expert consultants. No charge, just coffee will be fine!


And here’s a handy link to the previous articles: