Seven Key Elements for successful L&D strategy

Written by
Petra Hovorková
Published on
June 24, 2021

Over the past decade, the global workforce has been evolving due to a number of factors such as increasingly competitive businesses, the rise of complexity, digital revolution, multigenerational workforces, and the absence of economies to build the skills (either by reskill or upskill) that people need for their future workplace. Researchers confirm that a significant percentage of market capitalization in companies is based on intangible assets such as skilled employees, exceptional leaders and knowledge. All of these trends are of tremendous importance for the Learning & Development function (L&D) within organizations.

Here are 7 key Elements how to build Successful L&D strategy within organization:

1. Alignment with Business

The initial step of each L&D leader needs to be the development of learning strategies based on the company's business model. For example, if the business strategy is agile transformation, L&D will focus on building the necessary team based on individual capabilities to make that possible. Learning strategy also supports talent & professional development and at the same time it enhances the company´s culture while motivating employees to live the company's values. Every business leader would agree that L&D must align with the company's overall priorities.

2. Shared ownership between Business and HR (L&D)

With the recently increased necessity of hybrid work that merges new tools and technologies, companies must become more agile and ready to adapt their business processes and practices. L&D must be prepared to rapidly launch adequate programs (e.g. employees requiring immediate training on new technologies and tools such as cloud-based collaboration.)

L&D should partner with business leaders by establishing a clear structure in which leadership from both groups share responsibility for defining, prioritizing, designing, and securing sources for adequate programs – everything aligned with the company’s business goals. Involvement of top company executives and senior management will strongly support L&D initiatives.

3. Capability „GAP“ definition

This task is usually more difficult than it sounds. At the heart of this process stands a comprehensive Competency or Capability model based on the organization's strategic direction. For example, a key competency for a segment of a production maintenance workforce could be “deep expertise in big data and predictive maintenance.“ After identifying the most essential capabilities for certain functions or job descriptions, companies should then assess how employees rate in each of these areas. L&D interventions seek how to close these capability GAPs.

4. Design Learning Paths

The main objective of the learning path is to help people to develop the required new competencies in the most effective and efficient way and to support the transfer of learning to the job itself. Designing learning paths means continuous learning opportunities that take place in a period and include complex L&D interventions (either digital or in-person session) as:

  • Pre and Post work learning activity
  • Learning on the job - On-the-job coaching / Mentoring
  • Class training, Workshops, Social learning, Shadowing etc.

5. Just Do it!

Smooth execution of L&D activities on budget and time requires support of business leaders. Many L&D functions adopt a framework known as “70:20:10,” in which:

  • 70 % of learning takes place on the job,
  • 20 % through interaction and collaboration,
  • 10 % through formal learning interventions,  both in-classroom training and virtual (virtual tools: L&D leaders must make sure that learning technologies fit into an overall system architecture that includes functionality to support the entire employee talent cycle)

6. Evaluate the process and result

A learning strategy’s execution and impact should be evaluated by using key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Business KPIs: How closely aligned are the L&D initiatives and investments with business priorities (e.g., impact on organization´s priorities, organizational health, and DNA etc.)
  • Learning KPIs:  How much the learning interventions changed people’s behaviour & performance (e.g., impact on individual / team performance, employee engagement etc.)
  • Operational KPIs: How well L&D investments and resources are used (e.g., savings / improvements in processes – impact in money, time, resources etc.)

7. Integrate L&D activities into HR processes

Just as L&D learning activities need to be aligned with the company/organization, they should also be an integral part of the HR agenda. L&D has an important role to play in recruitment, onboarding, performance management, promotion, and succession planning. L&D leadership must understand major HR management practices and processes while collaborating closely with HR leaders. The best L&D functions use complex development feedback from performance reviews as input for their GAP analysis and learning path agendas. Another example can be onboarding. Companies that have developed efficient onboarding processes have better employee engagement and satisfaction, while losing fewer new hires.


Human capital is more important than ever and will be the primary factor in sustaining competitive advantage over the future. The most effective companies will invest in innovative L&D programs, remain flexible and agile, and build the human talent needed.

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