Businesses across all industries are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of learning and development in the workplace. They know they need to do it, and they may even have an idea of some of the subjects they want to cover
However, what they may not have considered is how best to implement this learning, who will be responsible for this learning, or what ‘good workplace learning’ should look like.
That’s exactly the goal of learning governance. When businesses implement a solid framework around workplace learning and development decisions, they set themselves up for success. With effective governance, workplace learning and development not only increases efficiency but also often leads to improved overall business metrics.
At first glance, learning governance may not seem like the most ‘fun-filled’ part of learning and development. However, making learning governance a central focus of your L&D program can streamline everything that helps that workplace learning run smoothly. As such, you will have much more time to spend on the learning itself. That’s way more fun!
How can businesses recognise when they’re on the right (or wrong) track with their learning governance? It can be easy to get swept up in other aspects of the learning and development process, which is where good governance habits can slip.
By repeatedly asking a few simple questions, workplaces can stay on top of their learning governance and prevent avoidable issues before they arise.
Accountability is non-negotiable when it comes to learning governance. Whether you have one person who is responsible for learning governance or a whole team, those responsibilities must be clearly defined.
Everybody should know who to ask when they have a question and who to raise any concerns with.
By doing this, businesses eliminate any potential middlemen that arise when conversations of “I’m not sure. Maybe x person knows” seem to repeat themselves.
Don’t get us wrong, asking questions when you’re unsure is not a bad thing. However, it’s much easier to ask one person rather than going through a whole chain of people.
Following this process also benefits the person who is responsible for learning governance, allowing them to make decisions without worrying about seeking additional approval.
Just like knowing who is responsible for learning governance is non-negotiable, so too is knowing what is expected procedurally.
Ensuring everyone is on the same page when it comes to procedures means you will set a consistent standard with little room for confusion. As we know, confusion is the enemy of workplace productivity.
Whether they like to admit it or not, many workplace leaders have a soft spot for their departments and may push those in charge of learning governance to expand the budget for that department just a little bit (or a lot) further. The reality is, having a budget, sticking to that budget, and having clear allocations for where money is going can help avoid potential arguments.
It also helps to set expectations so that when a change or update is requested, people understand the likelihood of that request being approved.
If you’re unsure where to start with general learning governance procedures, here are a few ideas that accurately set procedural and responsibility-based expectations:
Having solid procedures in place and knowing who is responsible for those procedures will always be essential for best practice learning governance. However, neither of those things can play their role effectively if those responsible for workplace learning aren’t asking themselves one very important question: what is the business trying to achieve?
When everyone involved in workplace learning has a clear idea of the overall goals of the business, it’s easier to make decisions regarding learning that most people are likely to agree with.
Furthermore, when your learning content accurately reflects the goals of the business, everybody in the workplace becomes more familiar with what the business is trying to accomplish, not just those working in learning and development.
When everyone has the same understanding of their workplace’s goals and has been educated on those goals through workplace learning, the positive ripple effect throughout all departments is immeasurable.
The most effective models of learning governance for businesses are as unique as the businesses themselves. What works for one business may have varying results for another.
So, how can businesses begin the framework to create their version of learning governance?
An excellent starting point is to look at the three main models of learning governance: centralised, decentralised, and federated.
When a company uses a centralised learning governance model, all workplace learning is controlled through a centralised learning team that reports directly to the CEO. A centralised model means that the all-important accountability, for everything from budget, to metrics, to resources, is held by a single team.
Having a single team to which you direct all learning enquiries also reduces the number of middlemen that can complicate things.
However, businesses using the centralised model of learning governance will need to be cautious of the bureaucracy potentially getting out of hand. Therefore, they must remain receptive to feedback.
Decentralised learning governance takes pretty much the opposite approach. In decentralised learning, every business unit is responsible for its own learning teams. In other words, everything from budget, to metrics, to learning systems is run by a learning team within a team.
By selecting a decentralised method, businesses ensure that individuals who have a comprehensive understanding of how each business unit works are the ones that have control of the learning.
While this strategy minimises the risk of bureaucracy rearing its ugly head, it also increases the risk of organisational redundancy.
Federated learning governance combines both centralised and decentralised governance models to create a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.
One example of this would be one team managing the learning and training administration processes. Meanwhile, the content delivery and development processes are managed by teams from departments where that learning is most relevant. For example, the Human Resources department would manage Human Resources training.
Once again, while a federated model may have the ‘best of both worlds’, it still isn’t a guaranteed success. Accordingly, businesses must consider their unique situation before selecting the approach that is right for them.
No matter how your workplace decides to tackle learning governance, it’s important to remember that everybody has a role to play.
While an employee may not have any direct responsibility for learning governance, they should speak up if they notice room for improvement.
Similarly, workplace leaders and those who have direct responsibility for learning governance should empower others to speak up and take on their feedback.
That doesn’t mean that those in charge of learning governance need to change things up every time someone has a complaint. It just opens the doors for new ideas that could make learning governance at your workplace even better or draw attention to issues that leaders may not have been aware of.
As a knock-on effect, employees that feel like they can leave feedback without being judged or reprimanded are more likely to want to participate in the learning, rather than feeling like it’s just another box that needs to be ticked.
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