September 18, 2015

10 characteristics of an outstanding L&D professional

Workplace learning has changed almost beyond recognition in the past ten to 15 years. L&D is no longer the gatekeeper of learning. Classroom based learning has been overtaken by technology-enabled learning and learners are quite happy to take control of their own learning path.

These changes have had a huge impact on the L&D profession. What makes a perfect L&D professional today is hugely different to what made a perfect L&D professional 15 years ago.

At the Learning and Performance Institute’s Learning Live conference, Dave Buglass, Head of Capability & Development at Tesco Bank, said that L&D needs to be better at understanding that learners are like consumers. L&D needs to consider what learners want and how they already are learning rather than what L&D thinks they need.

L&D also needs to better at marketing what it does and telling great stories. It needs to have creativity, innovation and agility to challenge the way business operates. L&D needs to think more commercially, showing the business and employees what it has to offer and how it can help individuals and the organisation with the onward journey.

We have outlined what we think are the top 10 characteristics of the perfect, modern L&D professional.

1. Open and curious. L&D needs to model the behaviour it wants to foster in the organisation. If you want open, curious, inquisitive learners who are prepared to try new things, you have to show that behaviour yourself.
2. Business nous. We say it every time but it’s so important. L&D has to understand the needs of the business, its drivers and objectives. Otherwise, how can L&D design training that suits business needs?
3. Digital skills. Learners are using technology to the max – podcasts, YouTube, community portals – L&D needs to embrace digital learning as well. Classroom learning still has its place, but technology-enabled learning is where it’s at.
4. Understanding how to measure impact. The business wants L&D professionals who talk the language of business. L&D needs to be able to use data to measure impact, showing solid evidence that training initiatives are delivering results.
5. Influencing skills. The modern L&D professional needs to influence people around the business, particularly senior management. They have to be able to put a compelling business case as to why investment in a training package is needed. They also need to help move senior and middle managers towards new ways of learning.
6. Problem solvers. Training is often about solving a problem that an individual, team or department has. L&D has to help find solutions to problems, finding the best, more effective and appropriate training answer – if indeed training is the answer. L&D needs to proactively help solve problems, not be order takers.
7. Horizon scanners. L&D needs to constantly look forward, finding out what is coming up, what skills will be in demand, what innovation will be necessary.
8. Science of learning. There are so many new findings about how we humans learn and how the brain works. L&D need to understand these findings and incorporate the best, most appropriate of them into their own learning delivery.
9. Well connected. L&D needs to be well connected, both internally and externally. They need to know the right people and have good relationships with them and foster peer networks.
10. Confidence. L&D needs to have the confidence to challenge accepted ways of doing things. It needs to ensure the business learning environment is strong, modern and deeply embedded. Changing and challenging the corporate learning culture takes skill, effort and confidence.
Further reading:—a-sample-chapter.pdf—a-sample-chapter.pdf