In her article, 3 Traits That Will Make You a Learning and Development Rock Star In 2020, on ATD’s website, Cheryl Lasse provides a compelling picture of what Learning and Development will look like from the perspective of an L&D professional.
I think she’s dead on with what they ideal fully transitioned learning function will look and act like in the future. It is a vision that draws on marketing principles which I have previously discussed in my Do It As Marketing Does series.
Lasse groups her thoughts under three traits – Be Customer- and Learner-Focused, Be Curious, and Embrace Diversity. While she doesn’t state it directly, I believe that there is an assumption that there is at least a developing learning culture in the organization.
Be Customer- and Learner-Focused
The learning function in the organization needs to be 100% focused on its customer – the learner. The learner will have ownership of his/her personal learning plan. L&D will facilitate learners in their development providing resources – curated or created – that align with the competencies required by the roles employees have and wish to have in the future. Learners make the choices on how to meet their learning goals in an all pull, no push model.
Lasse says that this customer-focused approach means L&D must understand the expectations the organization has for each role.
The expectations are the tasks the must perform, the behaviors that make the tasks executable, and the required levels of proficiency. That’s a competency model.
I agree with this idea. Focusing on the competencies necessary to execute the work required throughout the organization ensures alignment with the business outcomes that should be the focus of everyone in the organization – including L&D.
Under this trait, Lasse charges L&D with exploring the industry, the company, and the audience they serve. The goal is to become intimately familiar with the needs of its customers (learners) needs. Our colleagues in marketing live and breathe based on their ability to know the customer as closely as possible.
This familiarity will enable learning professionals to develop a competency-based model of learning in which resources are readily available to meet the changing needs of learners and the organization.
Knowing the employees, how they fit in the organization and it within its industry also means L&D can lessen its learning curve when it in presented with a need for learning. This should lead to greater efficiency, reducing costs and scrap learning and quicker turn around time from need identification to delivery of the learning experience needed.
While I’m not sure that diversity is the best label for this trait, I agree with Lasse on the components. What she is talking about is attending to Informal, Social and Formal Learning when creating resources activities and experiences. The greatest focus should be placed on in-the-job learning.
…an L&D rock star will first ask, “What activity could this person perform to learn this skill?”
Created content will be microlearning, quickly digestible. Except the most complex, large topics which will continue to require more formal learning. Lasse suggests that the entire organization will be focused on mentoring and being mentored as a part of its culture.
L&D with be brokers of content and resources that they can provide in a matter of days to meet new needs.
One commenter on this article on td.org raised the legitimate concern that personalized learning plans might be too burdensome on management, pointing to the generally poor execution of performance reviews. My reply to her comment was two-fold. 1) if we support it right, the employees will have more ownership of their own learning. Making the burden on the manager less of a heavy lift. and 2) most companies don’t support or provide incentives to managers to build capabilities and schedule time to guide employees in performance development. L&D needs to spend more effort in teaching managers how to teach and less time teaching employees. Two traits of a good learning culture.
While I really like this vision of L&D’s future, I’ll be curious to see how many can achieve this vision by 2020.
What do you think? Is this a good vision for L&D’s future? Is it achievable? If you disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please us the comment section below to chime in on the conversation.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo courtesy of Unsplash.com