Are you listening?

“How can learning leaders partner with specific line of business peers to ensure learning efforts gel with top line strategic concerns and drive organizational change?”

That’s the question I encountered today. And the answer, in a word, is listening.

Okay, it’s not quite that simple. It’s critical for learning and development efforts to be aligned with the mission of the organization. Therefore it’s incumbent on the L&D professional to know the mission and strategy of the organization to best be positioned to support it. Otherwise we’re just guessing.

And the best way I know to ensure that our L&D efforts are in sync with the organization’s needs is to meet with my peers, the senior and strategic leaders of the organization, and find out what their most pressing needs are. Find out what skills they envision their staff will need to meet the demands of the future. Find out what competency gaps are most crucial to address and then craft a plan, again working with the line leadership, to meet those needs.

Just throwing training at staff is a waste of time and money if it isn’t giving staff the skills they need to succeed both today and in the future. May my training brethren forgive me, but training is not always the answer. If we’ve identified a deficit of knowledge, train them. But if we determine that they know how to do the job but for one reason or other they aren’t doing the job, then manage them.

I know lots of L&D professionals out there who’ve had managers come to them saying, “My staff person needs training on [fill in the blank].” And then we dutifully identify the best, most cost effective training, send the staff person to it and nothing changes! Because they already knew how to do the job. It was easier for the manager to blame the lack of performance on a training need than to actually manage the person. And then when there is no improvement post-training, well it must be L&D’s fault for having sent them to the wrong workshop. Manager is off the hook and L&D is to blame.

But the bottom line is, the work still isn’t getting done.

The best way to ensure that learning is aligned with the strategic needs of the organization is to meet with your line peers, listen to them, offer your professional advice, and then take the appropriate steps to see that the work gets done. And that does not always mean training.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *