Making the Business Case for Executive Learning & Development

img-making-business-case-for-executive-learningHave you ever asked the head of HR at your organization or your supervisor to send you to an executive training program? Or maybe your organization provides continual learning programs to help keep executives abreast of strategic and leadership essentials?

Recently, ExecuNet surveyed approximately 2,000 executives and found that 61 percent consider their organization to be supportive of continued learning and development. But exactly what types of programs do most companies seem to support?

It clearly helps if a learning program is connected or aligned to the strategic goals and specific needs of the organization. The majority of executives surveyed cited routine on-the-job experience, on-the-job training, and coaching by line managers and peers as the primary tools
used by their organizations to develop executives. When asked which of these tools they find to be the most effective in helping them perform their role, again most cited programs offered by their organizations. And, when asked to rank the reasons why they prefer these tools, the top answer was “flexibility.” Sixty-three percent of respondents suggested their companies are less likely to approve programs that require time away from the job. The cost-effectiveness of on-the-job training was offered as another important consideration, as 60 percent of business executives say they have no budget to draw from for their educational needs.

This is not to say executives are satisfied with the selection of in-house continual learning
programs. Fifty-four percent said they would like to experience a greater variety of programs than
those offered within their organizations. Over half pointed to learning programs found outside
their organizations: e-courses, workshops and other programs offered by educational institutions.

What role do supervisors play in executive learning and development? Luckily, many recognize the
value of ongoing executive education; 65 percent of respondents said their supervisors support
their efforts to seek out educational experiences. However, roughly half of the respondents said
their supervisors are unclear about how executives’ professional development actually ties in to
the organization’s goals, and only 40 percent feel their supervisor actively assists in identifying
learning and development needs.

Finally and most significant, 76 percent of executives surveyed reported they themselves are clear
on their own developmental goals, and 87 percent said they understand how their continued
personal development can contribute to the overall success of the organization. In the end, it
appears it’s for the individual executive to assess what additional skills or knowledge they may
need to develop to work at their level best.

Click here to see the survey report.



Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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