• Barnett Waddingham
    Barnett Waddingham
  • Decision time for Learning & Development?

    By Simon Spindler, Director, People & Performance Consulting

    As we all look beyond Christmas to the promise of vaccine-led emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to think that if we all “just hold on” then things will be fine, if we just wait then things will “sort themselves out” or “get back to normal”. In many respects this is right – the promise of widespread vaccination does herald a freeing-up of restrictions and the chance for us all to get back to something like normal life.  The reality is, however, that for businesses all over the World there are important decisions to be made.

    The UK furlough scheme and its equivalents in other countries has helped to retain jobs and hold back many redundancies.  The pressure on many companies has not yet receded, however, and another three or four months before vaccination starts to have a real effect will be three or four months too long: redundancies will increase as businesses continue to fail.  But what about those businesses that are surviving, or even flourishing?  For them, like the UK Chancellor this week, the immediate challenge is to emerge through 2021 and re-build.  What does that mean for HR teams as they look at their spending on L&D, restructuring and talent?  Despite regular and renewed warnings from CIPD, development spending is often the first to be cut when times get hard.

    The increase in working from home will magnify some existing challenges for business leaders and create new ones.  Research by Lumina Learning has shown that, in addition to more remote working permanently, people want more practical support (IT and so on) and they also want more connectivity with their colleagues and managers and greater emotional support: so in fact they want what employees have always wanted – to be led and managed well, by people who understand their needs, show an interest in supporting them and can help them to increase their job satisfaction.

    In other words, people still need to know the answers to the same four core questions:

    • What’s expected of me?
    • How am I doing?
    • How can I improve?
    • What’s in it for me?

    To answer these questions, organisations and their managers need to be able to provide clarity, manage performance and development, and motivate and encourage their teams.  These are the same things that have always been important – but the pressure on managers and HR to provide the right kind of support have been increased by the new ways of working and by employees who want to manage their work-life balance better than before.

    So now is the time to invest in people development:

    • not “when things get back to normal” – because they won’t;
    • not “when budgets loosen up” – because lockdown restrictions mean that most businesses have not spent their planned L&D budget for 2020 anyway;
    • not “when we know what we need to do” – because it is the same as before, but more!

    At People and Performance we have always prioritised the need to understand each client’s specific needs, as within different organisations there are different priorities and different things are possible.  Nonetheless, our diagnostic approach is based on clear principles around leadership, performance and talent, and we have always seen development needs based on providing clarity, giving feedback and encouragement, and building motivated teams.  It is time now for businesses to recognise the imperative for investing in their people to pull them out of the pandemic recession and provide a strong platform for recovery and growth.

    Find out more about how People and Performance Consulting provide leadership development, performance management and other support on our website.



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