How to implement a successful learning and development strategy

By Dr David Bevens, below, Head of L&D, Portico

A robust team is the cornerstone of any successful SME, making continuous investment in human capital a strategic priority. Instead of resorting to cycles of hiring and firing, savvy business leaders prioritise the nurturing and development of their staff. This involves not just training for current roles but also preparing employees for future responsibilities. At Portico, we refer to this holistic approach as Learning and Development (L&D), as it embodies a broader perspective beyond mere “training.”

For SMEs aiming to establish a comprehensive L&D framework, there are several key considerations. So what are they?

Align with your business values: Start by evaluating or establishing a set of core values that underpin your organisation’s identity. Ensure that L&D initiatives are designed to reinforce these values. For instance, at Portico, every learning opportunity is crafted to embody our commitment to inclusivity, warmth, positivity, and transformation.

Secure executive support: Successful integration of new initiatives hinges on strong executive endorsement. Your leadership team must not only understand the L&D strategy but actively champion it. They should lead by example, demonstrating a personal commitment to ongoing professional development. Remember, a culture of learning starts at the top and permeates through all levels.

Embrace feedback: Solicit input from your team regularly. Actively seek suggestions for improvement to tailor your L&D programme accordingly. Celebrate success stories and recognise individual contributions. Effective L&D initiatives celebrate and leverage the unique experiences, talents, and skills of every team member.

Monitor and evaluate: Establish mechanisms to track the impact of L&D efforts. Measure outcomes such as improved employee retention rates, internal promotions, or enhanced performance indicators. Regularly review these metrics to gauge progress and make informed adjustments.

Be flexible: Everyone learns differently. Get the best out of your people by offering a hybrid model and embrace various ways of learning to suit an individual’s style – from online to round table discussions, from coffee mornings to lunch-time sessions.

Ensure your content is robust: Giving your team a chance to earn accreditations that will aid their professional development at your current business and beyond, is a fantastic tool for engaging employees in learning and development. At Portico, for instance, we formed partnerships with the Institute of Leadership and Qualsafe, so that our people can gain qualifications in topics like leadership and management, equality and diversity, and mental health support.

Foster inclusive participation: Encourage widespread participation and engagement across the organisation. Appoint L&D champions in various departments to promote a culture of collective learning. These champions play a crucial role in advocating for continuous development and ensuring that learning remains a priority, even amidst demanding workloads.

Overall, a well-defined L&D framework is essential for nurturing talent, fostering growth, and driving organisational success. By aligning initiatives with core values, securing executive buy-in, embracing feedback, monitoring progress, and fostering inclusive participation, companies can cultivate a culture of continuous learning that empowers their teams to thrive.

Portico is a specialist provider of high quality and always tailored guest services, aimed at the business and industry, residential and property sectors. For further information visit: