Learning and Development; It’s Not Just for Training Anymore

By Candice Kramer

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

Corporate learning and development are – like the business itself—changing rapidly. Once the province of formal classroom training, and classroom training only, the changing expectations of employees and needs of the business are pushing Learning & Development (L&D) to become more social, more mobile, and more blended to give employees what they need to be productive, when they need it.

The roles within L&D are changing, and it is that change that you should take advantage of now to steer your organization toward success.

There is a lot of talk in the L&D industry about the importance of getting a seat at the table. Most of this talk is aimed at L&D itself, but there are many good reasons why engagement with L&D should come from leadership. This article will outline why your next meeting should be with your L&D leaders.

You Are The Change

“The fact that learning is changing has important implications for organizations,” says Wendy Brooks, former Director of Global Solutions at Hemsley Fraser. “Learning has become a key catalyst for, and an enabler of, change. It should be seen as a Board-driven priority, as it is a major factor that can contribute to an organization’s success.”

So ask yourself: How are you engaging with your L&D team to drive success in your organization? Do you treat your learning team as a partner or as a cost center?

Intentional Change = Less Waste

We’ve all been involved in those projects that seem to go nowhere; they start and stop and seem to be in a constant state of upheaval.

Projects like these waste time and resources, and while it may be easy to blame the project manager, it is often the result of too little preparation and a mindset focused on a knee-jerk reaction instead of a thoughtful response. How can L&D help?

By providing a comprehensive approach to the learning need, L&D can:

  • Determine what intervention is required (It may not even BE training!)
  • Provide consultation on the bigger picture
  • Identify the right people to design, manage and deliver the program
  • Provide measurable results and drive accountability

Beyond the immediate need, L&D should be included in business life cycle decisions.

When integrated effectively across HR, IT, and all functional units, L&D can ensure that the business meets its goals by adequately preparing staff at all moments of learning needs.

Performance Support

This is a Performance Support approach, a strategic L&D lens that is perfect for businesses undergoing rapid change, as well as those implementing a talent management and development strategy.

Performance Support examines all inputs and expected outputs of a learning program by designing for the workflow where and when learning is needed.

It addresses:

  • When learning how to do something new
  • When learning more deeply and broadly
  • When applying what was learned (and perhaps forgotten)
  • When solving a problem
  • When things change, and practices and skills need to change, too

For example, a traditional 6-week onboarding program can be shortened by half by giving employees the concepts and content they’ll need to start working immediately, saving the more detailed, easily-forgotten content for later, and providing it when they need to access it.

By implementing such a system, time-to-competency is reduced, and productivity is increased. Employees have enough to get started, spend less time in the classroom, and know where to find more information when they need it. Just think how powerful this learning strategy could be when applied across all employees in all functions!

This approach is very different from what you may know from many L&D departments in the past, but it is gaining acceptance in many major organizations like Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Amazon, and other companies whose employees deal with products and customers that constantly change—and is built for the way people learn now.

Benefits of Partnership with L&D

Have you stopped to think about how you learn? When was the last time you picked up a book to learn how to run a meeting or how to use the latest version of PowerPoint? Most of your employees learn from videos and other media, from their peers, or just by figuring it out through experience. But that takes time.

Rather than just entering a search term in an engine, L&D can curate and organize just the right content to be available at just the right time.

L&D professionals can help because that’s what they do. If you include L&D in discussions about the business, everyone wins.

In addition to the e-learning you asked for, L&D can:

  • Assess needs and competencies focused on moving your business forward
  • Cut the time it takes to get your people to effective performance—and keep them there
  • Increase integration across multiple functions
  • Respond rapidly to changing market conditions
  • Provide consistent talent and competency measurement that really matters

So if you haven’t yet set that meeting to build your partnership with L&D, think about this: A study conducted by the University of Maryland’s Flagler School and the Human Capital Institute found that organizations that invest in the training and development of their employees at all levels benefit by having stronger talent pools, increased retention, lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction rates, and ultimately, healthier and stronger organizations. And isn’t that what you want, too?

How Does Learning and Development Work for Your Team?

If you have ideas about learning and development that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Candice Kramer
Candice Kramer
Candice has developed learning solutions for Cisco Systems, PBS Adult Learning Service, the U.S. Army, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Supreme Court and others, and is a proud holder of ATD’s CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance). Catch her next at Focus on Learning in June, on her website or on Twitter @CandiceCPLP.
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