Unlocking potential, performance and productivity through learning

Andy Lancaster discusses how effective learning can help organisations get the best out of their people in any business context

Performance and productivity are two of the words most likely to keep senior leaders up at night. Regardless of industry or organisation size, how you motivate your people to perform is vital to surviving any business context. Learning and development is key to unlocking the potential of employees, and a new report from the CIPD and Towards Maturity identifies why the learning agenda must also be a top business priority.

There are a number of reasons that we’ve seen organisational performance come further into the spotlight over recent years, including disruptive business models, globalisation and technology, changing employee demographics, and the increasing need for flexibility and remote working. All this means that a fresh approach to learning, in which the primary focus is on key business needs and KPIs, is crucial. Learning cannot continue to be associated with the occasional face-to-face course, but by development that is embedded at the heart of the organisation on a daily basis.

To embed this new learning environment, senior leaders and managers must drive activity, acting as role models for the learning process, championing and monitoring it on a regular basis. It’s also important that the learners themselves are involved in how learning is designed. Every organisation’s context is different and so will the learning needs of their employees. If those at the receiving end of learning are able to play a part in shaping it, it is much more likely to be successful and effective.

There’s also a need for L&D teams to revolutionise their approach. With a need for responsive, agile and iterative learning design processes, L&D must focus on its own development needs to have the right capabilities in place and be confident to use them. L&D teams must facilitate and build skills that reach out to the business and promote a shared sense of responsibility that recognises the agency of all stakeholders in the organisation. Success is achieved through collaboration. When the ‘timing is right’, working together with managers and senior leaders creates commitment. L&D must champion initiatives and lead by example, playing their part in setting direction and purpose as key players in the organisation’s thriving eco-system.

Further understanding the role that learning has to play in driving business results is why the CIPD has become a strategic partner with benchmarking and research organisation Towards Maturity on a new report, 'Driving Performance and Productivity'. The report, published today, provides insights and professional development solutions to enable L&D teams to be at the leading-edge of practice. It explores how and why genuine learning organisations facilitate and sustain greater organisational impact from learning.

The report surveyed over 700 global L&D leaders to understand their approaches to technology, skills, collaboration, tactics and strategy, to achieve higher performance and productivity. The report uncovered four key areas which are key to underpinning learning that drives performance:

1) Setting direction

In order to sustain high performance and productivity, successful learning organisations embed a vision and release the capability of their people to achieve it. For this to happen it’s key that individuals, managers and L&D teams are brought together in order to work and share knowledge, that they receive adequate resourcing and time for reflection, that creative media are used and that learning is fully aligned to organisational goals.

2) Getting there

High performing learning organisations are ten times more likely than low performing companies to use learning analytics to improve the delivery of their services. They routinely gather data and insights about learning transfer and how it has been applied, while regularly reviewing the effectiveness of their programmes.

3) Leveraging technology

To ensure that learning is successfully applied, high performing and productive organisations understand how their people want to learn and use the most appropriate solution to meet the need, which often requires the use of technology.

4) Empowering people

To empower their learners, high performing learning organisations ensure staff are provided with feedback, have time for reflection on learning as well as an environment to share ideas and work out loud. Organisations that proactively listen to their people are almost three times more likely to achieve business innovation than the average.


The CIPD and Towards Maturity will be presenting the research at this year’s CIPD Learning & Development Show 2018 in the Strategic L&D and Learning Essentials Arena on 26th April at 2pm. Andy Lancaster will also be presenting a conference session at the L&D Show on ‘Technology and the Future of Learning’ with a focus on the emerging importance of the smartphone in workplace learning.

Download the full report here.

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