eLearning News had a short article on the dropping level of confidence among those people responsible for training and development in their organizations, reporting on a new study by  the American Society for Training & Development. I will reframe the information as,

It is not all bad, but not much is expected to change for the better.

Since learning and development are key motivators for most people in most workplaces, the feelings of those in charge of training does not portend well for much improvement in engagement and motivation. A motivated workforce absolutely contributes to long term organizational success — so much data shows that clearly. The data say that maybe things will continue, as if that means that things will be okay; it does not seem okay in so many ways…

After all, these guys probably have opinions and reflections on how things are working out for the average people in most workplaces…

Demotivated and dis-engaged people wishing things were different

The optimism and confidence about the long-term business outlook and performance impact expectations for training fell significantly in the second quarter of 2013, according to American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

ASTD’s Learning Executive Confidence Index (LXCI) surveyed 350+ learning executives about their expectations:

  • ability to meet learning needs;
  • perception of the value of learning; and
  • availability of resources.

The 2013 Index for the second quarter was 65.3, down from 68.1 on a 100-point scale, in the first quarter. The second quarter drop is a trend. First quarter index measures in 2011 and 2012 also were high (67.3 for both) with dropping numbers in later quarters.

The report notes that by the second quarter of the year, organizations and learning leaders see a clearer picture of the year’s opportunities and budget. The outlook for people and performance just gets bleaker as the year goes on. And, as I have written elsewhere, there are all sorts of issues on people and performance that are driven by motivational factors like training and personal development. Many simply hold low expectations…

Good Old Days in the South

Key findings from the index for the second quarter of 2013 include

  • Expectations from Q1 to Q2 2013 declined, but optimism remains okay. The Q2 2013 LXC Index score of 65 is the same as the score the industry reported a year ago. One wonders what might drive it higher, like C-Suite commitment to people and performance, maybe?
  • The impact of corporate performance and the perception of the value of learning continue to be positive indicators, with 69.8% and 68.8% (respectively) believing that it will be moderately or substantially better in the next 6 months, a result that seems unlikely given many other economic factors.
  • Availability of resources needed to meet learning needs is the lowest index, with 57.0% of learning execs believing it would be the same or worse in the next six months.
  • More leaders believe that the perceived value and impact of learning in the organization will stay the same, and fewer believe that it will be moderately or substantially better. (Remember the excitement around Senge’s Learning Organization works? What the heck happened?)
  • Nearly one-third (30.5%) of learning executives predict that the impact of learning on corporate performance over the next 6 months will stay the same. Note that “the same” is different than, “better.”
  • Slightly more than half of learning executives believe that there will be an increase in workplace learning and development funding levels in the next 18 months and later (a 16% increase from Q1 2013). Time will tell on that, but it is good that they are at least optimistic for that.

Personally, I think that all of the data simply means that things will have to get done by the management without the help of any of the training and development organizations in their companies. The funding and access to training seems undependable. Mentoring and coaching must be LINE functions and not dependent on HR. And there are some simple tools available (click on the image below to see our $20 toolkit)

square wheels image of improvement

We know that many managers are actually quite good at developing their people. We need to have more of the managers doing those best practices and pushing their people toward higher achievement levels. We need more personal growth and development all around.

I THINK that managers can make better decisions to do things more effectively and really take hold of their people development, rather than depending on HR or some other department to get things done. There are too many examples of supervisors with involved and engaged people to think this is not possible.

If you are looking for a most excellent tool to re-energize and re-focus people on the issues of organizational alignment and collaboration, take a look at our flagship team building product,

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Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Visit www.astd.org/Publications/Research-Reports/2013/2013-LXCI2013Q2 to read the full report.