The transformation of L&D leaders

Forget the traditional 'vertical silo' approach of L&D's past, today's function needs to push horizontally across the organisation to achieve success

The transformation of L&D leaders

This article was produced in partnership with LinkedIn

Melanie Hearseof HRD Australia caught up with LinkedIn to discuss successful L&D programs.

LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report sent a clear message – learning leads the way through the Great Reshuffle and best practice in development and delivery favours a new approach. Truly successful L&D programs will require L&D leaders to embrace company-wide collaboration across HR counterparts, executive leadership, and department heads to craft and carry out a companywide learning strategy.

Collaboration – and timing – is everything

Many L&D professionals surveyed said they've gotten more cross-functional this year – but there is plenty of room to grow by taking a broader approach to the HR partners they're working with. Talent acquisition is a solid strategic choice as skills-based hiring becomes more important, while people analytics professionals can help to illuminate the business impact of skill-building programs.

"In a unique moment in time, when organizations can rethink their approach to many aspects of HR, the collaboration between L&D and people analytics is resulting in more effective, fact-based, and impactful learning experiences," says Nigel Dias, Managing Director, 3n Strategy.

A vital part of capitalising on a more collaborative approach is in the timing. Serena Huang, Paypal's Global Head of People Analytics says too often she sees the people analytics team get pulled in too late, removing the opportunity to help design the right type of experiment up front.

Likewise, how you plan to measure your L&D programs and activity needs consideration from the start – it’s common to underestimate how much will go into setting up these measures, and to get the most insight, you should be collecting data from the outset.

LinkedIn says these measurements could include practices such as offering two separate course-delivery formats (such as online and in-person), then testing knowledge retention after a given timeframe.

Stay close to stakeholders – and their priorities

While 59% of L&D professionals told LinkedIn their CEO is a champion for L&D, that means 41% of CEOs still need to be galvanised into becoming better advocates.

L&D professionals can foster interest by aligning their programs with the overall business strategy, and by learning about the CEO's personal priorities and passion projects – taking care to demonstrate the contribution that learning can make to both.

Other members of the C-suite are also important, though time-poor. Appreciating this means knowing to focus your pitch at getting them to see the value and what you’re asking for quickly –pitches should be brief, top-level, and framed in priorities, performance, and profits.

Keeping up their engagement can be helped along by sharing milestone achievements and success stories. Focus on the ‘what’s in it for me?’ element when deciding what to show case is key.

Managers also matter. Last year's report declared managers the ‘secret skill-building weapon’ and this year’s report shows that’s only grown, particularly with remote and hybrid businesses that make for less in person networking and social opportunities that foster company culture. This needs to be tempered with recognising managers have suffered historic levels of burnout, and care should be applied to ensuring you’re not simply piling up their plate – focus on how you can help.

And of course, the best source for understanding what employees wants and need is employees themselves.

Neither last nor least – look within. Nikhil Shahane, Vice President, Talent and Engagement, TechnipFMC further suggests as experts in the field, L&D professionals should add a proactive element to their planning.

“Don't wait for the business or client to tell you what they need. Proactively identify what's happening externally and how that impacts your business and people. L&D should focus on anticipating the skills of the future, recommending learning technology, and sharing the value of learning with leaders," says Shane.

As a final observation LinkedIn reminds us not to forget to invest in yourself. While L&D professionals preach the power of learning every day, many forget to make time for their own.

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