The View From ADP: Finding Your Approach to Learning and Development for Enterprise Organizations

Leader teaches her team in office setting

ADP's Chief Talent Officer suggests three foundations for successful learning and development in enterprise organizations.

Taking on the development of one individual is brave; taking on the development of thousands is nothing short of miraculous. Yet that's exactly what enterprise organizations do when they shepherd their organizations from 50 people to 1,000 and beyond.

ADP has lived that exact experience. Our organization supports the learning and development of 58,000 talented individuals, and we feel we've figured out an approach to learning and development that works for us. Those last two words are critical: The reason our approach works is not that it's perfect, but that it's perfect for us.

There is no modern, magical checklist for organizations to use when attempting to create the most effective learning and development strategy for them, but we have three principles we've used when forming our approach.

1. Learning Must Reinforce Culture and Values

Business results are a function of people results, and people results are a function of how you treat individual members of your organization. At ADP, we see learning and development as the bridge between the individual and the team. Focusing on it ensures we're taking care of individual members of the organization.

The better we take care of our employees by carefully evaluating their strengths and giving them opportunities to grow their careers based on those strengths, the greater the dividends we see in performance, productivity and overall business success.

Enterprise organizations that want to support real growth and performance upgrades when it comes to learning and development must tie their strategy back to the organization's mission and values. What does the organization value? How are employees incentivized to represent those values? Your employees will look to your approach when answering these important questions.

2. One Size Fits Most, Not All

Best practice in the learning and development industry has long promoted the importance of customization and personalization. After all, the same training is usually not best for every employee when it comes to improving the skills and growing their knowledge.

Despite that, many organizations may still be tempted to treat learning and development as a one-size-fits-all proposition that doesn't take into account the person's specific role. ADP takes a bifurcated approach that provides different tracks for associates and leaders, and we feel it has made all the difference.

For example, we've found that associates need very specific kinds of support to do their job well. Training for their job and practice with the products and tools they'll use are both critical, and the ultimate goal is for the associate to be able to have a productive conversation with a customer about the business's product.

However, leaders and managers have completely different goals and needs. They need to learn how to step away from contributing on an individual level and transition into a true strategic role. The ultimate goal is for them to successfully lead diverse teams toward a common goal.

Enterprise organizations should identify the differences in expectations for associates and leaders and create learning and development that acknowledges those differences.

3. Success Can — and Should — Be Measured

The overall ROI of learning and development is notoriously difficult to calculate, but with the right technology in place, it's possible to capture the data you need to see the progress of associates and business goals. In fact, it's the only way to measure success in an enterprise organization. Even with a full-time team, it would be impossible — and unproductive — to manually manage the learning and development progress of thousands of employees.

While many view ADP as a payroll organization, I see us as a technology business. We're insatiably curious about how we can leverage technology to help with learning and development, and we've been able to use technology not only to track employee education and training but to actually reinforce their behavior in real-world scenarios and assess how they handle difficult situations.

Capturing and organizing the data associated with that practice and automating alerts within the leadership team so they can follow up on learning activities are important ways that learning and development can be baked into the daily life of our associates and leaders.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Learning and Development Strategy

At ADP, we embrace our strengths, and we strive for uniqueness by applying that strength-focused mindset to our approach to learning and development.

Large organizations in pursuit of their own distinct strategy can apply these principles, too. Those principles can help them create an approach to learning and development that furthers their mission, builds their culture and develops talent into employees and leaders who will flourish in that environment.

Learn about Life@ADP.