Learning and Development is changing – for a number of reasons and in a variety of ways. Aspiring and emerging L&D leaders are working hard to get L&D to the “top table”, to raise the profile of their roles, teams and what we all know L&D can and do offer the business.

This is often a struggle in a variety of organisations. For some, the skills, behaviours and attitudes of its own staff are stymieing it: L&D staff capabilities are responsible for 51% of the success, according to CLC research [the Corporate Executive Board paper titled “Improve the Impact of the L&D Function on Business Outcomes” is now a broken link].


Does the business need L&D?

For others it’s about those in a position to make a difference not seeing what the economic climate means to business, or their direct reports not being able to tell the story that convinces them… Redundancies have been sweeping, hiring halted and all levels of the business need to prove their worth, none more so than L&D where CLC research shows that only 24% of CEOs think that L&D are critical to business success.

So we need to do some things to show we can survive, in or outside of HR. We need to be business savvy. Just as consumers are savvy with their ever reducing spending money, why should the business invest in L&D interventions and programmes with out seeing the benefits, whatever that may mean.

It’s hard to have that conversation with with a manager who thinks our programme is very good, but not for their business area. It’s hard knowing that we want to make a difference, but convincing people to let us develop and roll out the programme and release their people to attend it, let alone engage people who would rather be hitting their targets and objectives.

Our own business skills

We need to be business people too.

We need to have business understanding in order to ask the right consultative questions to get to the core of the problem to provide the best intervention.

We need to be relentless in asking for the data that shows the problem and therefore can highlight that our work was part of the solution.

We need to be able to read and interpret this data to understand the solution we need to implement.

We need to challenge managers and stakeholders in the business as they don’t always know what they want. As Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

It’s not the manger or stakeholders job to do L&D, it’s ours. But we need to be able to find out the problem to be part of the solution.


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