August 14, 2017

How to choose the right HR or L&D programme for your development

When it comes to training, HR and L&D professionals are spoilt for choice. There are so many courses, so many training providers and so many areas of HR/L&D to explore. This amount of choice can of course present challenges – which course should you choose? Which training provider should you choose? Do you want an offline or online course? Or mix of both? Too much choice can actually be a hindrance, making it harder to pinpoint what your exact needs are.

HR and L&D professionals are renowned for neglecting their own learning needs. This is something that Laura Overton, founder and CEO of benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity, keeps talking about. She says people professionals are like the cobbler’s children. However, it is critical that you do not neglect your own skills and professional development. You must apply the same rigorous approach to your own personal development that you apply to your learners’ personal development. That includes how you go about choosing what learning you need. There might be a lot of choice and you might be short on time (aren’t we all), but don’t shortchange yourself by rushing your decision. Think carefully before you choose a course and take your time in order to make sure you make the best possible decision.

What are your learning needs?
First and foremost, what are your learning needs, both in the short and long term? How can you develop your skills and experiences in order to progress your career? Don’t just plump for the latest, most talked about bit of learning, just because lots of other people are doing it. Think about what you actually need and what gaps there are in your current skills. Look two-five years forward in your career and where you want to be – what do you need to do and learn in order to get there? It might be that you want to move your career in a particular direction and so need to gain specialist skills in that area. Or you know that you lack business experience or management experience and would benefit from gaining new skills in these areas.

What are the learning needs of your market?
Look at how your current skills fit in with market needs. Concentrate on skills that are in high demand and short supply – HR analytics, for example. According to the CIPD report, ‘HR Outlook; Winter 2016-17: views of our profession‘, there is a real dearth of analytics skills in the profession. Not only that, HR is not very good at knowing what to do with the data it does have.

Keep your eye on the horizon
Whatever you do, don’t just think short term. Think about what skills are gaining in importance and which are on the wane. For instance, the CIPD Outlook report reported on a rapidly growing trend for organisations, particularly large organisations, to transfer certain HR responsibilities to line managers. This includes responsibilities such as performance management, absence management and recruitment. Think about what this means for you as an HR professional if that trend continues. Make sure you position yourself so that you have the skills that organisations want and will continue to want.

Choosing the actual course
Choosing the focus of your learning is probably the hardest bit, but there is still more work to be done. Now you have to decide where, how and when to do the learning. Who provides the learning that you need? Look at lots of different providers and then narrow your focus down to a few key providers. Do your research on those providers – what is their reputation in the marketplace? Are they accredited? What kind of reviews do they receive? What kind of support will you receive during the training? Call up the provider and don’t be afraid to ask lots of question. You could ask to speak to someone who has done the course you want to do. Do your homework before making your final decision.

Be realistic: you get out what you put in
It doesn’t matter how great a course is, if you don’t have the time and energy to properly commit to your learning, then the outcome will be limited. If work is really busy right now and you have lots of commitments on, then perhaps now is not the best time to embark on a course. If you do want to start the learning as soon as possible, then make sure you dedicate enough time to your learning. Block out time during the week that you will attend to your learning.

The practicalities
If all or some of your learning will be taking place face to face, then location is important. Make sure you can be where you need to be and at the times that you need to be there. Think about the costs too – can you afford the course? Will there be extras, such as travelling costs and potentially, accommodation costs?

Talk to your employer
If your learning ties in with your current role or will be useful to you and your employer in the future, then talk to your employer. Maybe it can form part of your CPD and can be undertaken in work time and be tied into work goals. Better still, maybe your employer can share the costs. Or even fund the entire course. If you don’t ask, you won’t ever know!

If you would like to find out more about our HR or L&D courses, call us on 0330 660 0220.