Seven out of ten learning & development teams are too busy fire-fighting their day-to-day challenges to focus on the strategic talent and learning issues in their organisations, according to a survey by KnowledgePool, the managed learning company.

104 L&D managers were asked about their perceptions of training in their organisations. 69 percent claim their training department is under-resourced and 42 percent say that training receives inadequate support from senior managers. Only 56 percent feel that the training activities in their organisation add value.

“Lack of resources and lack of support are a reality for today’s L&D practitioners,” said Al Bird, Learning Consultancy Director at KnowledgePool. “Constant fire-fighting means that L&D teams don’t have the time to be strategic. This means that organisations are missing an opportunity to vastly improve performance at every level.”

The survey reveals that 80 percent of L&D managers believe that they could improve their organisation’s return on investment from training. 82 percent would like to develop a closer working relationship with line managers, to enable them to plan ahead more. 77 percent believe that new opportunities for improvement could be identified through a more rigorous analysis of their training spend and evaluation data. 75 percent say that improvements could be made by using more informal and on-the-job learning methods.

“L&D teams recognise the important role that line managers play and they want to involve line managers more,” said Al Bird. “They also recognise that the right development option may not be a training intervention at all; it could be an internal assignment or a project. There is a strong belief that informal learning with better collaboration and on-the-job learning opportunities for staff could be the way forward but many seem unsure of how to achieve this. Given more time, L&D teams believe they could reduce unnecessary training and cut out inefficiencies by analysing training booking data and evaluation response data to forecast future training needs and likely volumes.”

KnowledgePool offers the following tips to help L&D managers improve their training processes:

• Focus formal training where it works best (and weed it out where it doesn’t). This will improve the perceived value of L&D. Costly formal events which are unnecessary give training a bad name.

• Capture good examples of informal learning in your organisation and showcase them on a dedicated forum on your intranet. Offer an incentive to encourage people to share their initiatives and experiences.

• Find time to build your own skills. Without development, you can get stuck in a rut. If you aspire to a strategic business partnering role, build a business case for your development based on how this would help the organisation to perform better. Then educate the business about your new capabilities.

• Get involved with line managers to uncover and prioritise the most pressing people development needs. Boldly highlight where you can actively make a difference by spearheading learning and collaboration projects that will deliver results.

• Track and measure your activity to ensure you’re implementing the right solutions. The management information you’ll gain – by tracking who did what, when and why – can help you to better plan for the future.