Simon Gibson is Head of L&D at RS Components and it’s no secret that he’s passionate about transforming workplace learning. According to Simon, his role has two parts: impacting “how the profession is viewed in the broader context of learning and organisational development” and “making a difference” within his business.  

Looop’s Chief Learning Officer and L&D podcast host, David James, first met Simon when they were both directors of learning and organisational development at Disney and NBC Universal respectively. And David had a chance to catch up with Simon recently to talk about the future of learning. During their conversation, Simon shared some of the common L&D blunders that companies are still making. We’ve distilled them for you here. 

Listen to Simon & David in episode 2 of the L&D podcast


6 Common Learning and Development Mistakes Companies Still Make 


learning and development mistakes can be avoided or learnt from


1. They Continue To Prioritise Profits & Productivity Over Investments

Most companies perpetually focus on delivery and profits for today. At a glance, this might seem like a logical approach, however, it’s actually a huge problem when they’re unwilling to invest time and money in a better tomorrow. The truth is, “delivering more, now” isn’t a viable strategy 100 percent of the time.

Simon believes that if a company wants to grow in the long term, it needs to facilitate a culture that enables learning and personal growth. Only then will employees have what they need for continued peak performance. 


2. They Misunderstand What “Modern L&D” Actually Is

Simon explains that life at work is not mutually exclusive to life outside of work. Employees measure standards against the best experiences they have – regardless of whether they take place inside the office or not. Most businesses struggle to meet employees’ learning needs because they can’t comprehend employees’ expectations.

“There’s a really interesting thing about what happens outside of work, and it’s now bleeding into work quicker, faster, and in a more impactful way… if you’re in a work environment where you have to explain something to somebody in a 10-page document, I think we’ve got it wrong.”

Businesses end up delivering courses based upon assumptions rather than speaking to their employees and making data-driven decisions. Using data to build an L&D strategy takes time, effort and money – which companies often don’t want to spend.


3. They Adopt Short-term Thinking & Their L&D Strategy Suffers

This runs in parallel to Mistake 1: short-term thinking disregards the benefits of L&D because it prioritises cost over all else. 

Short-sighted companies don’t think about the future benefits of investing in their employees, such as increased performance or employee retention. Instead, they look for immediate ROI by measuring useless KPIs like “course attendance rates”.

People have an innate need for personal growth. A company that fails to tap into what employees need to succeed will only suffer the consequences later down the line.


4. They Monitor The Wrong Data. Or Make Decisions Based On Limited Data

Monitoring learning and development KPIs such as attendance rates and course completion won’t tell a company how effective their L&D strategy is. Rather than measuring learning activity and learning needs, companies should seek to identify real business needs.

“What data do we have on people? How can we analyze the real data assuming we have the capability to analyze the data to tell us what people might be doing or could be doing?”

Acting upon incorrect, or limited, information can quickly spiral into the creation of a learning solution that solves no problems and helps no one. 


5. They Run With Gimmicks That (Unsurprisingly) Don’t Perform

Simon has witnessed companies jump on L&D bandwagons like artificial intelligence and gamification without even knowing why.

“I think I need a thing so you make a thing and then I’ll tell my mates about your thing and then they can come to you about the thing and you think your thing’s really good anyway. But if I’m brutally honest… what was the point of that?”

The purpose of L&D is to positively affect performance and solve business challenges – from induction through to promotions and transitions.


6. They Fail To Listen To & Understand Their Employees 

There is often a disparity between what the employee needs to know and what the company thinks the employee needs to know. Businesses that ignore their employees’ needs do so at their own peril. 

For instance, new employees want to know what to wear on day one, who their colleagues are and when they’ll get paid. Overwhelming them with company hierarchies and mission statements (that they’ll only forget) is a waste of everyone’s time. 

Companies that fail to design and implement an L&D framework that solves employee problems at their point of need will end up with a chronic skills gap, as well as a disengaged, dissatisfied workforce. 


Simon’s Tips For Successful L&D Transformation 


Overcome learning and development mistakes by welcoming transformation


If you want to overcome learning and development mistakes in your company, Simon’s first suggestion is to take a step back and think about  the kind of model you want to implement and why:

  • What does my company want to achieve?
  • What are our current problems? 
  • How do I know that the current model isn’t working? 
  • What exactly do I want to change? 

Simon admits that L&D transformation can be challenging because you’ll need to have difficult conversations that challenge the status quo; getting key stakeholders on board is often a crucial part of implementing real change. Thankfully though, you don’t have to do it alone or reinvent the wheel. Simon recommends seeking outside counsel that can help you to showcase real-world examples of what works and why. 

With the right support and focus, you can start the process of really getting to know your employees and solving their problems. Helping employees discover what they need and want to be successful is crucial for any business that wants to succeed in the long-term. 

Listen to the full conversation in episode 2 of the podcast


Be Part Of The Conversation

Ask Simon Gibson about digital transformation on LinkedIn and Twitter

Follow David James on LinkedIn and Twitter for updates. 

Grab your copy of the L&D disruption playbook and find out how to implement a results-driven L&D strategy