The skills that today’s L&D professionals need

by Brett Henebery19 Jan 2017
According to Google Digital Academy’s Patrick Singer, there are five practices that L&D professionals need to be aware of if they’re to enhance the outcomes of their learners.

Singer, who recently outlined them at the global OEB conference, said the first is to understand the business of the organisation they work for. He added that this means talking to people and asking them such things as:
  • What’s your particular problem?
  • What will allow you to get promoted?
  • What numbers do you have to achieve?
“It’s only once you know the answers to these questions that you can think of ways to help them,” he explained.

“It might help if you attend their team meetings and ask to look at their dashboards. This should enable you to see their key ‘numbers’ and give you an understanding of the business in which you operate,” he said, adding that these are the business metrics that must be achieved in order for the organisation to survive.

The second step, Singer explained, is to identify passionate people and develop them.

“You only need to identify a few people who know about things – and are passionate about such things as talking to customers and moving the organisation forwards,” he said.

“Also, remember that anyone can teach anyone anything. That’s the principle behind peer-to-peer learning. Find these passionate people and give them a framework to use to help them develop others. Then learning will happen in your organisation – even if you only curate and facilitate it, rather than deliver it.”

Next is building your plan, and selling it.

“The best way to begin is to start small. Tell people that, ‘We’re going to do a pilot program that will make us more agile as an organisation’. The ‘business professionals’ in the organisation will be interested when they hear this. Use the word ‘opportunity’ quite a lot – and be open to failure from time to time,” he said.

The fourth step involves incentivising people within the organisation to help you.

“These people aren’t necessarily professional teachers or trainers. Rather, they’re the people in your organisation whom you know are the best at what they do,” he said.

Finally, Singer says learners must prove that they can create value for the organisation.

“Think of the L&D department as a profit and loss unit. The people who work in the L&D department create value – but you have to find a way to measure that, even if that measurement is going to be imprecise,” he said.

“So, L&D professionals need to understand their organisation’s business metrics. They need to show colleagues in their business how they are helping them to achieve their goals. They have to know how ‘learning’ works – and they need the analytical skills to be able to prove that learning works.”

Singer pointed out that things are moving so fast in today’s world of work that no one has a chance of keeping up with any and every development.

“So, the key to success is to create space in your organisation for subject matter experts – especially those who’re in-house – to supply the learning content that your learners need,” he said.

“You need to build the framework that allows them to supply to the key learning content.”