Why L&D is more than just ‘training’

by Brett Henebery01 Feb 2017
Every now and then, L&D professionals stumble upon an ‘a-ha’ moment that inspires a new way of perceiving the work they do, irrespective of how smoothly the status-quo might be running.
One of them is Marie Duncan, the learning development manager at Kibble Education and Care Centre.
As a member of the Charity Learning Consortium, Duncan regularly attended their events in London where a variety of speakers and thought leaders would present on a range of topics.

After watching a presentation by Issy Nancarrow of Nancarrow Partnerships on marketing in L&D, Duncan got excited by what she was hearing and learning.

In particular, she realised that L&D professionals shouldn’t assume interest or intention to learn, but instead should be selling their wares and generating excitement around their activities through ways beyond e-mail or internal intranet.

Now Duncan is convinced that marketing in L&D will continue to be crucial to both learners and the organisations they work for.
“The shape of L&D has been changing for some time,” Duncan told L&D Professional.
“We were once wheeled out for compliance training or asked to find solutions for problems perceived by others. However, the importance of L&D business partnering has taken greater precedence and what comes with that is the need for us to shake off our old reputation and rebrand ourselves.”
Duncan said that by utilising marketing techniques to engage learners, L&D professionals are saying ‘this is important’.
“We want to communicate to learners that L&D is an integrated function of the organisation and we can promote that perspective by engaging with a marketing strategy,” she said.
In terms of effective L&D methods that organisations could be utilising more, Duncan said she wonders whether it is a case of “doing less of what we used to rather than doing more of anything else necessarily”.
“Less ‘solutioneering’ [to quote Nigel Harrison] and less blanket, all encompassing, one-size-fits-all training courses which aren’t intrinsically linked to the business performance concerns,” she said.
“One area that I do think is important for L&D s the development of digital literacies as we begin to embrace new digital learning tools.”
Duncan said it is pointless investing massive amounts of time and money into “bespoke curated sites, jazzy eLearning courses and gamification” if the basic knowledge, skills and confidence are not developed simultaneously.
“As Peter Drucker so eloquently said: ‘Culture will eat strategy for breakfast’,” she said.
Looking at the year ahead, Duncan shared what she sees as the greatest challenges to L&D professionals when it comes to ensuring they have high-performing – and happy – teams.
“Shifting the mindset among our staff that learning isn’t an additional add on that takes them away from the front line. For as long as learning and development is seen as ‘training’ we will always be fighting an uphill battle,” she explained.
“L&D professionals need to be scaffolding opportunities for staff to learn in the workflow, every day, and help staff to embrace and acknowledge how and when they learn – outside of the classroom.
“Taking ownership of your own learning is very empowering and L&D can be the instigator and champion of that.”

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