Practitioner Tips from the CIPD L&D show

by | Jun 13, 2016 | Articles

At the CIPD L&D show this year, Laura Overton (Towards Maturity) and Derek Bruce (ABN AMRO) discussed how L&D staff can prepare for the future of learning.

The L&D profession has come a long way in the past five years. We are better able to create engaging online content, more aware of technology enabled learning, and are working to ensure they are more aligned to the needs of the business. Still, there is more to be done, and we as L&D know it.

We need to move forward and embrace change by letting go of old ways, build business credibility, and develop a more customer activated strategy, one that is focused on the needs of staff rather than the traditions of L&D.

Taking the approach of listening to learners and finding out their needs, Laura and Derek asked the audience to work together so we could crowdsource ideas from the 50+ practitioners there on the day – we looked at three questions:

  • What does L&D need to let go of?
  • How do we improve credibility with business leaders?
  • How do we move to a more customer activated strategy?

Here’s what they came up with.

What do we need to let go of to move on?

Let go of tradition:

  • Move away from one-shot events, perhaps plan a campaign of learning or break it into chunks. Remember that learning is a process
  • Drop the order taker attitude – you’re there to improve performance not just provide courses

Let go of the silver bullet

  • Don’t worry about keeping up with trends – the most important thing is to stay relevant to your learners
  • We need to rid the reliance of ‘one or the other’, a blended approach of F2F and e-learning helps, but we also need to ensure we go where the needs of our learners are

Let go of one size fits all

  • One size doesn’t fit all – so make the programme fit the need rather than the policy

Let go of old attitudes

  • Get out of your comfort zone – just because something has been done for years doesn’t mean you can’t rethink it and change it up. In other words – you don’t need to be afraid of new things
  • The attitude of ‘We are the experts’ doesn’t apply anymore. Outsource if you need to, and use subject matter experts where you can

2) How do we improve business credibility?

Open up a conversation

  • Communicate with senior stakeholders. Be curious about the business – show you want to know more and ask questions
  • Use the language of business, discuss KPI’s
  • Use evidence such as benchmarking to build a business case – Use insights from data and turn these into actions!
  • Understand challenges faced by business. Stay close and see problems from their point of view

Mutually agree measures

  • Adopt a performance consultancy approach – ensure the L&D Strategy is aligned to business objectives and be proactive. When measures are agreed, ensure you meet expectations
  • Identify how to demonstrate tangible results, measure what matters, not bums on seats
  • Consider involving business professionals with L&D experience in the process

Define your value

  • Focus on your job to retain and develop business talent
  • Have a conversation. Ask for information on the direction the department needs to go

Build your skills

  • Shadow people, consider working in different departments so you really understand the context of business problems
  • Understand the relationship between learning impact and business improvement!

3) How do we move to a more customer activated strategy?

Be curious

  • Identify your customer, who are you creating the learning for and why? Be a journalist and ask the questions that matter

Work together

  • Start with the end goal in mind and work backwards, what do you want to measure? Where do the learners fit in with this?
  • Create steering groups with all stakeholdersl In one group working together to achieve common goals This is a great way of facilitating collaboration as well as encouraging learners to see problems from different points of view
  • Crowdsource – think about what learners really want and involve them wherever you can

Communicate clearly

  • Speak a common language, know the language of your learners and don’t confuse them with jargon
  • Keep those connections with business and ask them to evaluate how they think the learning is going, are they seeing results? Is it meeting their needs?

Respond quickly

  • Be agile and work at pace! If you want to try out a new way of working just do it. Mistakes are okay as long as we learn from them
  • Rethink training delivery – chalk and talk, espresso sessions, toolkits. Be creative, appealing and engaging. Thinking like a marketer can help you create engaging content and campaigns to really appeal to your learners
  • Incentivise- always ask yourself the question ‘So what?’ when designing your learning

Manage expectations

  • Manage expectation in L&D, if we say we are customer-focused then we need to deliver what they have asked for
  • Return on Engagement can be much more effective than Return on Investment as a way of measuring impact

Further resources:

Download In-Focus: Preparing for the Future of Learning for 120 additional tips.

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