Learning and development

Definition

Learning and development encompass the continual improvement of competence at all levels of an organisation.

General

Within an organisation, learning and development needs are set by performance management. This determines the relationship between people’s ability levels and the expectation of the organisation. Identification, application and monitoring of learning within projects, programmes and portfolios develops the organisation’s delivery capability.

The gap between expectation and ability is normally addressed by planned learning and development programmes. These might involve a short-term response, e.g. a one-day course, or a long-term approach, e.g. a three-year, part-time MSc.

The skills that need to be developed might be specifically job related, as in the use of a software tool or a management process, or aimed at a specific project, programme or portfolio-related qualification. In the P3 environment, learning and development also often take the form of courses that lead to professional qualifications such as APMP or PRINCE2® Practitioner.

Organisations vary widely in their ability to deliver learning and development. The ‘blue-chip’ approach may involve the creation of an ‘academy’ or ‘university’ offering a wealth of courses and qualifications. A small organisation, however, will rely more on internal support and mentoring and provision by external providers.

The scope and timescale of individual work commitments will directly affect the nature of learning and the type of development activity. Most organisations will use a variety of approaches, selecting the right approach for their needs and those of their staff.

P3 managers have a role in providing an environment that supports the learning and development of staff. Individually, they will also be involved in performance reviews and suggestions for future career development.

P3-based organisations and their managers realise the need to have a well-educated and skilled workforce. However, this does not mean that individuals can abrogate responsibility for their own continuing professional development (CPD). An organisation’s performance management system will typically encourage individuals and their supervisors to identify gaps in knowledge and skills.

Individuals may be part of a project, programme or portfolio for several years and their welfare needs to be managed accordingly. This requires appropriate staff induction, career development plans, skills needs analysis, and development and training.

Organisations need to recognise that CPD for staff remains an overarching principle. P3 managers must recognise the need for individuals to undertake CPD to keep pace with changing standards, legislation, tools, techniques and methods.

CPD in its most basic form involves:

  • identifying current and future needs;
  • setting specific learning objectives;
  • planning activities to support development;
  • recording activities and achievements.

Professional bodies play an important role by maintaining records of attendance and dossiers of CPD certificates for their members. APM’s own CPD scheme can be used to both structure personal development plans and highlight an individual’s commitment to the profession.

The learning and development needs of organisations, teams and individuals are in a constant state of flux as they attempt to meet the challenges and competitive forces of the marketplace. This requires a dynamic approach to learning and development, using all the tools available.

 

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