What parallels can be drawn by L&D Professionals and the political conference season

What parallels can be drawn by L&D Professionals and the political conference season

hands2With the political conferences all done and the politicians safely back at home, Philip Purver, CEO of The Working Manager Ltd offers a few thoughts….

That’s it. Party Conferences pretty much all done and we’re faced with quite distinct points of view. The Labour Party moving to the “left” , focussing on the living standards and welfare of the individual person, and the Conservative’s, focussing on business and profits, that in their view when  reinvested, will lead to the creation of higher living standards for the individual. Other political parties including UKIP and the Lib Dems fall somewhere within this spectrum.

Thinking about Learning and Development, for decades, and in particular in times of austerity, none of us need telling that one of the first budgets to be cut is that of the L&D department. Business people see people development as a ‘nice to have’ they don’t see the link to the profits of an organisation. So we have an HR division wanting to invest in the workforce for their personal development, motivation, employee satisfaction and career development and we have the top floor asking: “Where is the return on investment? How does this drive shareholder value and the KPI’s of the business?”

There are very similar divergent messages emanating from the Conferences.

The answer lies in a balance of both. The key frontier of where this is most obvious is with the role of the line management. Their role is to make sure that they are motivating and directing their team to achieve the business objectives. But they should also be investing in their team for their own personal development. High staff turnover and demotivation generates inefficiencies costing the UK economy hundreds of millions every year

How many times have we heard that when “colleagues” come back to work after training there is no follow up, no link to performance management, no embedding of what has been learnt in to “Business as Usual” . Put simply: No evidencing of outcome on both a personal and business level.

For years the answer to the question “How good is your line management within your organisation?” has been generally “patchy”. Some line managers are brilliant – others are dreadful. Overall the result is average.

Yet, what is the real balance of both the “good” of the personal development and the needs of the business. Isn’t the answer both?

With so few choices in our political system to choose from, we have to make polarised decisions at election time. In business we have the luxury of being able to convince senior management that there is a role for both and it can be linked to profit and the “good” of the individual.

In any project about development of people and the organisation the key is to define (in terms of wanted outcomes)  what good looks like for each “stakeholder” group and then, be sure that investment in learning and development delivers against these – and is sustainable.

If we do that, we can expand the thinking! We can show the politicians that there is a way to provide the UK population with something that the majority probably want – both!