You’ll see a story about that in this issue, as we present a case study of the lightning-quick training program the Transportation Security Administration put together, working with companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, AIS, KnowledgePool, NCS Pearson and Plateau Systems. It’s a good story with positive benefits, but not the one I’m thinking about just now.
Instead, I’m thinking of a smaller, more personal benefit that I’m sure you’ve realized as well. In the aftermath of 9/11, we’ve all gotten good at waiting. Waiting in lines, waiting in terminals, waiting on planes, as security needs rightly slow the transportation process just a bit.
So here’s what I’ve learned (although “reinforced” might be a better word): Downtime in travel isn’t really downtime, but the chance to get caught up on things shoved to the side of the workspace on your desk. In my case, I’ve found a busy travel schedule advantageous to reading the mass of reports, documents, articles and messages that I can’t always get to elsewhere.
As I’ve said, I’m sure you’re aware of this trick as well, and I’m sure you consider it practicing what you preach. Surely you tell your employees that downtime is lost time, and learning whenever and wherever possible is a good thing.
On a recent trip, I was able to thumb through a very interesting report from Accenture, its fourth annual “High-Performance Workforce Study.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth your time. Not surprisingly, it reinforces in six key findings what you hopefully have discovered in your own workforce development initiatives. Notice how these findings build on the previous foundation, just as education should:
- In today’s business environment, the strategic importance of an effectively managed and developed workforce is widely acknowledged. (In the study, 89 percent of respondents consider “people issues” as “very critical” or “quite critical.”)
- However, many executives believe there is a lack of critical skills, workforce understanding of organizational strategies and employee understanding of the connection between the two. (Only 12 percent of respondents feel that more than 75 percent of their workforce fully understands the company strategy.)
- With these shortcomings in mind, companies are implementing learning programs to improve workforce performance, spending money as necessary. (More than 40 percent increased HR budgets and training budgets in 2002. And 92 percent of companies offer either “extensive” or “some” training opportunities.)
- Still, executives are only moderately satisfied with the results. (A small 17 percent of respondents said they are very satisfied with training and development initiatives.)
- A lack of measurement is one reason for that, with executives having little understanding of how to apply learning and development in order to impact business. (The survey showed 40 percent or more are not regularly measuring the impact of training.)
- But some companies are leading the pack in this area, recognizing the strategic power human capital assets allow and defining best practices for peer corporations. (The report cites 27 companies as “human performance leaders.” Among these 27 companies, respondents indicated the vast majority of their personnel, more than 75 percent, fully understand the connection between their jobs and corporate strategy.)
All this before finishing the executive summary (if it’s a long flight, read the full report). The study even includes a three-pronged approach to making your company one of the human performance leaders, which is surely your goal. Simply put, develop a better understanding of the link between organizational development and organizational goals, leverage new technologies and approaches, and measure the return on such investments.
Editor in Chief/President