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TTA is the largest provider of Learning and Development talent. Companies of all sizes partner with us to be a cost-effective, scalable, and strategic extension of their team.
If there’s one phrase L&D departments rarely utter, it’s “We have way too much money and resources, how can we possibly spend and use all this”? Truthfully, learning and development have always taken a backseat to other revenue-generating departments of organizations. While that’s been slowly evolving, not every organization has the resources to devote to it, no matter how well-intentioned they are.
In reality, despite wanting leadership development, many organizations are running on tight margins. In a Brandon Hall Group 2021 study on the State of Learning Practices, 52% of participating L&D departments reported a reduction of at least 25% to their budgets, with 26% reporting at least a 50% reduction. In that same study, 47% of respondents reported not having enough financial resources, and 44% reported headcount shortages.
The good news is that even without fancy tools and resources, organizations of all sizes still have a great deal of options. The key? Focusing on the basics and being flexible. In this article, we’ll refresh the basic foundations your learning program needs to have, and then we’ll see how to apply them in a sample plan.
Without rehashing adult learning theory, the key is to understand the basics of what makes learning happen. It’s too easy to get debate training modalities – instead, let’s examine the most critical factors to a successful learning journey:
Before we get into options for programming, two quick side notes – using an LMS and getting buy-in.
LMSs’ are great tools to help track learner journeys, see pain points in learning, and deliver content quickly and efficiently. But what if your organization has an LMS that’s lacking in features or can’t afford one?
The simplest and most cost-effective solution is to curate YouTube videos into a playlist around the desired topic, set the playlist to be private/unlisted, and then send out the link to the learners. Total cost = $0. The only downsides are that you won’t be able to track learner completion and the content won’t be personalized to your organization.
Even without adequate money/resources, you’ll still need buy-in from all levels. Start with learning your organization’s strategic plan, and its priorities, and ask senior leaders how they’d want to frame any leadership development efforts around meeting strategic initiatives. This is how you position yourself as a strategic advisor because your program will automatically meet business needs.
Because you’re on a budget, you have to be disciplined to focus all your content and efforts solely on those strategic priorities. Everything else is nice to have and until you can properly prove return on investment (ROI), it’ll have to wait.
In Figure 1, I’ve provided a sample chart of how you can deliver leadership development programming. You’ll notice a few things:
As you can see, leadership development can be done on a shoestring budget. The only limit is your imagination. One caveat, organizations shouldn’t look at this article as permission to continue underfunding these initiatives. Like many other endeavors in life, leadership development is an investment in your organization’s future. Continuing to invest minimal resources will only place a ceiling on your leaders’ capabilities and competencies – and thus, your organization’s ability to meet its strategic goals and initiatives.
But, by remembering the basic principles and focusing on doing the basics well, you can start getting data to prove that return on investment. By leveraging your existing resources and being creative, you can nurture talent within your organization and reach your goals.
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