The main goal of most management systems is to make business processes efficient. But often efficiency is not the problem. Even bad processes can be made to run more efficiently. The key to running a successful business is to be effective.
In a learning and development context, effective means people understand their roles and responsibilities. They can perform them confidently and competently. In an effective business, individuals, teams and the entire organisation consistently perform to a high standard.
A workforce planning and development system that achieves a trained and capable workforce is one that is effective.
The general framework that follows can be applied to most Learning and Development (L&D) organisations. An L&D system that receives a tick in each of these boxes is well on the way to effective workforce development. But not all workforce L&D processes are the same for every organisation, so systems that are flexible and configurable are more likely to deliver effective outcomes.
Sadly, many of the solutions that find their way into Corporate Training departments were never designed for workforce planning and development.
1. The Capability Framework
A capability framework is a categorised matrix of organisational Roles against their required Capabilities, Skills or Competencies. Categories vary depending on the type of business you're in. Capabilities often span multiple roles, but the level of competency may vary with each role or workplace conditions.
In the example below you'd expect the First Aider to need the highest level of First Aid (A) while other roles might only require level B or C. The example also shows how capabilities can be prioritised by category.
The capability might also specify the number of resources required in each role, in order to meet Capacity targets for the organisation.
Figure 1 - Sample Capability Framework
A well-thought out capability framework forms a solid foundation for recruitment, performance management, training requirements and capacity planning. The rest of the workforce learning and development system starts with this as its foundation.
2. The Role Development Plan
In order to properly track the progress of capabilities and competencies being developed through all levels of the organisation, each employee has a personal copy of the performance requirements for their role (or roles).
Often called the Role Development Plan, Training Plan, Professional Development Plan, or Study Plan, this document performs a planning, tracking and progress reporting function. These are the building blocks of the Workforce Planning and Development strategy.
In the bigger picture these plans contribute the necessary data for Performance and Talent management.
Components of a Role Development Plan (RDP)
- Aspirational career goals
- Currency (to remain current and competent in an existing role)
- Opportunistic and Planned Professional development activities
- Coaching and mentoring
- Performance goals and progress
The Summary Section includes the identity information, goals and the key roles the person is expected to perform in.
Training Courses and Activities
This section outlines the formal training and related activities the individual will perform in order to be considered competent in the role.
Its important to include both individual and group activities to ensure attributes such as communication and leadership skills can be properly evaluated and assessed.
This lists the current capabilities that have been assessed and validated, as well as those that don't need to be assessed or validated.
Example: a Chinese employee might have the role of 'Translator' in her organisation.
According to her HR records, Mandarin is her native language and she speaks it fluently. So, this is a capability that probably needs no assessment.
Another might be Recognised Prior Learning (RPL). A person who has remained competent and current in the role while working for another company might be considered competent through RPL. They must produce evidence but are not otherwise required to undertake training and assessment.
The capability matrix is often presented on QR coded wallet cards that determine a person is qualified and authorised to enter certain restricted areas of the plant, or undertake specific tasks.
Professional Development Section
Professional Development deals with those areas of training and development that enable a person to remain current and up-to-date in their role or profession.
PD is often awarded in a points system where the employee is expected to achieve an annual quota. Points are awarded based on relevance and coverage of the subject matter. Points can be awarded for courses, activities or participation in related events.
In many systems a person can request that a particular activity be 'assessed and approved' for PD before the points can be awarded.
Intervention, Mentoring and Coaching
When a person needs help to perform training or anactivity component of his training plan the support can be provided as one or more interventions.
The methods used to intervene might include: remedial study, coaching, mentoring, resits or extra curriculum activities.
This part of the document describes the methods used to intervene, the goal of the intervention and the result.
3. Training Events Calendar
Training events, workshops, meetings, webinars and eLearning content all provide opportunities for team members to learn. But we can't underestimate the value of on-the-job training and micro-learning through videos, blogs and attendance at webinars.
Scheduling opportunities for learning and development in an organisation-wide training event calendar greatly enhances accountability, reporting and visibility of the entire training process.
4. Assessment and Verification
In order to confirm that a person has met the competency requirements of arole, they need to be assessed. In many organisations Assessment only indicates that they performed competently in training. But that does not guarantee the person can perform in the workplace, where other factors often come into play.
This is where 'validation' or 'Verification of Competence (VoC)' comes into play. The team member would typically be observed, or otherwise verified as being able to apply the learning in the work environment.
Accreditation is acknowledgement that a team member has been trained, assessed and validated and is now deemed 'fit for deployment' in a given role. Accreditation often has a life span of, say 5 years after which the team member must be re-accredited.
6. Professional Development (PD)
Professional Development ensures that team members stay on top of their game.
To remain current in a role or profession a team member must demonstrate that they are regularly performing relevant activities, undertaking professional training and participating in industry-related events that continue to build confidence and understanding to reinforce the capability.
7. Performance Management
Performance Management is the method of planning and developing a person's ability to meet the demands and challenges of a role or profession.
This is more than assessment or validation of competency. It's a measure of consistent ability to perform to the required standards and criteria set for a role.
Performance is generally measure using multi-level conversations conducted in face-to-face meetings and appraisals between team members with their managers, colleagues, customers and employees. Top performers can be identified by the level of 'talent' they exhibit through Performance and Talent Management frameworks.
A well designed Workforce Planning and Development system meets all the security and reliability requirements of a modern Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. But even more importantly it helps you successfully implement learning and development processes effectively.