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What makes a successful learning and development practitioner?

The world of workplace learning continues to change and evolve, bringing along not just challenges and exciting opportunities but also the need for L&D professionals to constantly develop their skills to meet the demands of its customers.

A recent joint study between CIPD and Towards Maturity showed a significant gap between the skills and capabilities that L&D practitioners know they need and what they actually have in-house. The research also highlighted a shift in the L&D role from pure training delivery to performance consulting. This means learning and development professionals must now diagnose and solve problems. 

This means a complex list of skills are required in order to be successful. But what are those skills? I take a look at some of them here.

Internal Consultancy SkillsWhat Makes A Successful Learning And Development Practitioner

More so than ever L&D professionals need to display and demonstrate consultative skills. Similar to external consulting, internal consultancy skills often require the additional ability for individuals to work effectively with their colleagues and peers, often within challenging environments or with the back drop of office politics. They need to be effective in problem solving in order to clarify their client’s objectives, reviewing and feeding back evidence and data, prepare ‘bulletproof’ action plans and confidently presenting solutions and recommendations to their customers.

Business Acumen Skills

Having a sound understanding of how your business works and how each business function links to the overall strategy of the company is vital for any L&D practitioner. Having met with hundreds of L&D professionals over the years, I often see a link between organisations that are performing well with the knowledge L&D professionals have about what is happening in their business. Amongst other things, this helps them to effectively present relevant and timely solutions that drive performance and results where both individuals and the business benefit.

Negotiation and Influencing Skills

Negotiation and influencing skills are an integral part of building collaborative internal and external relationships and partnerships. Negotiation is described as a dialogue between two or more people or parties intended to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

Negotiating doesn’t have to be as daunting as some people see it. Whether it’s resolving a conflict or negotiating a contract with a supplier, with good preparation and some simple techniques you’ll often be surprised with how often both parties can walk away feeling positive with the outcome.

Influencing skills are required to motivate others to take action and to bring people around to your way of thinking. If you haven’t already, I urge you to read Dale Carnegies “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. First published in 1936, it is one of the true timeless classics in personal development and self-help publications and is as relevant today as it was all of those years ago.

Tech Savvy

Technology is at the heart of many business functions and plays an ever important role in the delivery of learning solutions. Whether you are delivering internal training using virtual classrooms, developing just-in-time online support materials or supporting social and collaborative learning, a basic grasp of the technology involved and how it all fits together will serve you well.

Project Management

Whilst L&D practitioners are not always required to run projects per say, project management skills, or a basic understanding of project management, can be a useful set of skills to possess. Wikipedia describes Project Management as a “temporary endeavour designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end”.

Project Management provides a common language to aid communication and offers a structured approach to achieving a common goal. So, whether you are writing a business case for new L&D solution, managing internal relationships with key stakeholders, controlling resources or assigning tasks to colleagues, these skills can be a valuable asset for any learning professional.

I have always been a firm believer that learning and development provides one of the most important roles within any organisation. Our job is to help staff develop and ensuring each employee is provided with the right support, at the right time, to drive performance and productively. As the L&D landscape evolves and businesses change, learning and development professionals need to be flexible and responsive to their customer’s needs. 

Continued professional development for L&D practitioners is just as important as it is for the customers they serve. Our previous infographic, The Anatomy of an L&D Professional, highlights some of the other skills required in learning and development.

At Bray Leino Learning we pride ourselves on developing our people in order to deliver the best service possible for our clients.

Want to know more about how we can help your people succeed? Contact us now.


Stuart Ford, Learning Solutions Sales Consultant, Bray Leino Learning

In my series of blogs I will talk through my thoughts on some of the key challenges facing Learning and Development professionals, along with useful tips and advice.

Follow @BrayLearning

Copyright © 2015 Bray Leino Learning

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