L&D professionals have a unique role to play in supporting senior executive vision—but only if they are fully equipped to operate in the same high level of executive space.
Generally speaking, training is a fixed and tactical instructional event. As a result, the challenge for L&D professionals is how to have the mindset, as much as the capability, in not just what to do but how to do it. A key shift is a move away from learning delivery to performance consultancy—an idea more commonly associated with Organizational Development (OD).
In the same way that OD practitioners contribute to learning implementation by focusing on an organization’s cultural assumptions, values, behavioral norms, and environment, L&D professionals need to develop the skills required to design and implement initiatives that increase the effectiveness and health of the organization.
This L&D and OD merger is supported by an April 2015 study from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), working with Towards Maturity, an L&D benchmarking and research company. The study shows a significant gap between the skills L&D practitioners know they need and those they actually possess in-house that will drive organizational change.
The report, entitled “L&D: Evolving Roles, Enhancing Skills,” states: “87 percent think that business planning is a priority for L&D professionals but only 47 percent think they currently have the skills in-house. To prepare organizations for technological growth, globalization and an uncertain economic outlook, the L&D function needs a much broader blend of skills than ever before.” Although over 50 percent of organizations surveyed said they are not planning on changing role focus toward instructional design, content development, performance consulting, and data analytics, nine out of ten L&D professionals are ambitiously looking to improve performance, productivity, and sharing of good practice. These professionals recognize that there are many options available for building skills and performance.
To earn a place at the executive table, L&D professionals must be agile and adaptive to drive performance—and they must stay relevant to the wider business. This calls for every L&D practitioner to build capability in function, alignment, and commitment for learning transformation.
Here are 5 steps to assist you in your journey:
- Evaluate your team’s current skill base. Start to build on capability gaps.
- Measure how aligned you are to business and learner needs. Address any disconnects.
- Build networks within the organization. Strong relationships are essential in understanding business needs.
- Recognize budget concerns. Think about how to get support for a compelling business case.
- Move fast and early. Look for quick wins and communicate successes.
And don’t stop there! To have a complete picture of human capital management, L&D practitioners also need to create clear links with recruitment and succession planning strategies.
The combination of three human resource functions—Learning and Development, Organizational Development, and Talent Management—creates a three-legged stool approach in support of development of individual talent and organizational bench strength. One idea worth exploring is to leverage the complementary knowledge and skill sets of these three functional areas under the term—and department name—Integrated Talent Management.
An Integrated Talent Management approach designed to attract, develop, and retain productive and engaged employees could be the answer to creating a high performing and sustainable organization that meets its strategic and operational goals. It could also be exactly the approach needed to solidify a seat at the executive table.
About the Author
John Slater is a Senior Director, Client Solutions for The Ken Blanchard Companies working out of Blanchard’s Toronto, Ontario regional headquarters in Canada.
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