How to be a standout L&D professional in 2016

by John Hilton13 Jan 2016
The challenge for all L&D professionals is to look at what exceptional performance means in your role, said Rob Davidson, Director of Growth and Founder of the HR service providers, Davidson.
This is because many L&D functions will most likely be replaced in the future by online content or offshored to someone at a much cheaper location.
The key is to be “so good they can’t ignore you”, he told L&D Professional.
“If you are at the top of the bell curve and you know that you provide exceptional value to your organisation, then your job is safe. In fact, it’s beyond safe - you will become increasingly important and have the most wonderful future,” he said.
“But if you are average and you provide no more value than an algorithm or someone who is offshore or a contingent worker then organisations are going to seek to become more lean as the decade progresses and I think that a lot of those roles will disappear or be downsized.
“If I’m an L&D professional and I know what I do will relate directly to the bottom line of the organisation, how can I prove the ROI on the money spent on me, my department and my function?”
Davidson added that if you don’t know those figures then you’re probably in that proportion of L&D professionals who might be at risk.
He argued that the really good L&D professionals are people who speak the language of business, which include figures and P&L.
“Where I think an exceptional and strategic L&D professional should be focusing at the moment is firstly understanding the capability gaps in the organisation and be seeking to close them,” he said.
Secondly, he said they should be aware of the changing nature of work in their industry and training for tomorrow’s flaws as well as today’s flaws.

“Again, I suspect very few organisations are doing that,” he added.  
“What I do for myself and the people I coach, is say if I were to look at your CV at the start of the year and the end of the year would it look exactly the same, or would I think wow, this person has really grown and developed this year?
“Probably 90% of leaders I see have CV’s in January which will look almost identical in December.”
Davidson thinks that in many organisations leaders struggle to have a learning culture.
“A challenge I toss to leadership groups at this time of the year is to individually and collectively provide a list of all the business books you have read this year, all of the seminars you attended, all of the conferences you attended, all of the public speeches you gave, all of the articles you wrote and the workshops you ran,” he said.
“In my experience very few leaders have a genuine learning culture themselves and have a genuine culture of reading and so I don’t know how you can find out the future of work if you’re not an insatiably curious person.”
Davidson offers the following tips for L&D professionals to be the best they can be:
  • Benchmark yourself against what the best do globally.
  • Understand deeply the strategy of the business, and how your job contributes to those outcomes.
  • Be able to clearly and with evidence articulate how you are adding to the commercial outcomes of the business in a material way.
  • Walk your talk. Do you have a genuine learning and development culture? If so, what’s the evidence? Do you write blogs? Do you go to seminars outside of the business? Are you challenging yourself to be the best you can? If you are not walking the talk then how do you expect people internally to embrace the message that you’re sending?