How to roll out a global learning and development programme

Taking a global approach to learning and development (L&D) programmes allows organisations to achieve consistency, reduce the number of contracts on their books, create more tailored learning solutions through stronger relationships with partners, and increase the consistency of communication. However, the scale and complexity of rolling out global L&D acts as a deterrent for many.

In ‘Should you deliver learning and development programmes globally’, Russell Evans, managing director of Primeast, explained that a lack of exposure and experience in managing global L&D has created a perception that the task is too difficult. Yet if global L&D is approached in the right way, with the right partner, it need not be a headache.

Here are a few tips on how to successfully roll out global L&D programmes.

Have A Clear Purpose

The starting point for creating any successful L&D programme has to be the creation of a clear and unifying purpose. Businesses need to know what they want to be achieved by any learning that takes place before an appropriate course of action can be determined.

“There has to be alignment straight from the outset about what the outcomes are going to be,” Russell explained. “If it’s about organisational development rather than learning, it’s going to be about how are we going to see the business change? If it’s about learning it’s about what am I going to see human beings doing different? What observable behaviours will be different? If you don’t get that set properly established and agreed, everything else will be meaningless because it’s not built on anything solid. You cannot move away from that objective or do anything else until you and the buyer are clear on that. It’s about alignment of outcomes and alignment of process.”

Find The Right Partner

The relationship between an organisation and their learning and development partner is integral. Trust plays an important role and one of the barriers to global L&D is that there is a fear that the partner will act autonomously and deliver something that the organisation didn’t want. Companies need to spend time ensuring they have the right supplier for the job, who spends time with them understanding their vision and talking about the purpose of the project.

This is even more crucial when times are tough. As companies shed internal L&D head count, having a partner who behaves and acts as if they were an integral part of the business means that ‘pain’ and disruption will be minimised.

At Primeast we recognise the importance of this relationship and ensure we can deliver substance and support. Honesty is crucial and we try to ensure the people we promise for a project are actually the ones working on it, at least for the first year. Whilst ‘bait and change’ may be seen by some learning vendors as a way to grow business rapidly; it is both capricious and inappropriate, so should just never be considered appropriate.

Get The Right Solution In Place

Likewise, global L&D programmes will fail if the wrong solution is implemented. Organisations need to ensure they have selected the optimum solution for the global need and are able to deliver on the strategic aims of the business. However, the solution will only be the right one if the purpose is correct and agreed by all. So we are back to an accurate diagnosis before the solution is prescribed. And dare I say it, for many situations, training is NOT the answer; where perhaps individual or group coaching, a mentoring programme or a facilitated OD intervention might be.

Be Aware Of Local Sensitivities

Just because an L&D programme is global, it doesn’t mean it has to take a one size fits all approach. Indeed, if it is going to succeed it will be delivered with local sensitivity.

“If you’re a global organisation, the way that you rollout and deploy a leadership programme in the US, for example, is very different from the way you would deploy it in China. While the concept and the objectives, main content and design are consistent; the way it is ‘designed for deployment’ is contextualised and nuanced to accommodate local needs and preferences. This can extent from simple things like the examples used right through to activities and tasks which work better in some places than others” Russell explained.

At Primeast we have a network of around 100 facilitators, who are nationals and expats based in 23 countries, who take a programme and flex the way it is delivered for the local context to ensure it works well with cultural sensitivities, for example. This creates a more sophisticated organisational culture.

Follow Through

Learning and development is a continual process. Once you’ve delivered training, the job isn’t done and organisations need to ensure that they have the resources and structures in place to deal with people who have had that learning. This might be coaching support or it might be further follow up and reinforcement up sessions, but there always needs to be a way for individuals to practice and develop what they have learnt. The old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ is so true!

Focus On Success

“There’s nothing that drives global learning like success stories,” Russell explained. When people say they’ve learned something and have examples of how they have used it locally and the results it creates, this can be used to inspire others elsewhere. “If you can get people from all over saying look at my story, this gives you consistency because these stories will be predominantly aligned and it demonstrates the positive impact of global L&D in different contexts,” Russell said.

Taking A Consistent Approach To L&D

By rolling out a global L&D programme in the right way organisations can benefit from greater consistency and alignment to purpose. This increases the likelihood of achieving positive, sustained outcomes. With the right partner, Global L&D can run smoothly and help to unite organisations.