A visit to HRD 2012

I recently had the honour of writing a guest blog entry for GoodPractice following my visit to the CIPD’s annual HRD event. The below is a copy of that blog entry for your perusal.

Last week was a big week in the calendar for the CIPD. As well as hosting the HRD conference and exhibition in London, it also released its annual survey report on Learning and Talent Development. The fact that the report is released at HRD meant that I couldn’t help but reference the results as I walked around the event.

The headline for HRD 2012 was ‘adding value to your business through L&D’. It’s great to see the recognition of learning and development as a contributor to organisational performance. This is a view very dear to my heart and one which some providers (like GoodPractice of course) also adhere to. So it is encouraging that the CIPD are getting behind this practical, performance-led mentality. In fact, ‘greater integration to drive organisational change’ is seen by CIPD members as the biggest area of impact in L&D in the next two years, which highlights the importance of linking learning activities back to the strategy and goals of the business as a whole.

The event felt like it had a greater focus on technology than in previous years. There was a ‘Technology for Learning Zone’ in the exhibition area and the free seminars on this topic seemed to always be packed out. Up in the conference there was a whole stream of sessions also concentrating on this area. As we walked around the event and chatted with attendees, this felt like a smart move by the organisers as there was significant interest in what technology can do to really aid L&D and drive the overall performance of an organisation. There were in particular a lot of conversations around social learning and how best to harness it to maximise knowledge transfer within organisations.

Results vs reality

However, the buzz around L&D technologies was at odds with the results of the Learning and Talent Development survey. A mere 15% of respondents cited that a move towards web 2.0 technology will be a major change within L&D in the next two years. Only 22% felt that ‘bite sized’ learning and smartphone apps would have a major impact, whilst only 24% believe there will be a greater use of e-learning across their organisation. Given the focus on these areas at the event (and indeed across the industry as a whole) these figures are extraordinarily low. Feedback from attendees indicates that we still have some work to do as an industry to bridge the gap between the technologies themselves, and their effective implementation, which might explain the disconnect.

Leadership deficit

Another stand out insight from the CIPD report is that nearly three quarters (72%) of organisations report a deficit in leadership and management skills. The main skills lacking are performance management, leading and people managements and skills to manage to change. And most organisations (80%) are intending to address this with some form of leadership development activity in the next 12 months.

As you can imagine, there were dozens of exhibitors on hand to talk about their leadership development solutions. But what struck me was how many fail to delve into what actually creates this shortfall we’re experiencing in leadership and management skills. It’s one thing to acknowledge that we have a deficit in this area but what’s the root cause? And how are organisations supposed to practically address it?

According to GoodPractice stats of over 250,000 web-based searches, these are the most in demand subject areas for learners and managers:

  1. Leadership
  2. Coaching
  3. Communication
  4. Change management
  5. Feedback
  6. Interviews
  7. Career development
  8. Time management
  9. Appraisals
  10. Mentoring

The GoodPractice team is about to start conducting some in-depth research with its customers and are looking forward to exploring what really works for leaders and managers in practice. It’s only by truly understanding the everyday challenges they face that we can begin to address the deficit in skills that UK organisations are experiencing at a senior and line manager level.  I’m looking forward to seeing the results and getting stuck into the detail which we’ll be sharing that with you over the coming months. And hopefully the CIPD survey results will paint a different picture by the time HRD 2013 rolls around.

Useful links:

HRD Learning and Development Conference 2012: quick-fire links

HRD 2012: Leadership framework helps Asda achieve trust

HRD 2012: A quick review

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About kategraham23

Start-up founder, writer, connector, librarian's daughter. Interested in learning, HR, technology, online, media, marketing, fashion and cricket. Not always in that order. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company I work for currently, or those I've worked for in the past.
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