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Natalie Lewendon What are learners expecting from L&D?

We all agree it’s better to have an engaged, active learner than a passive one. One essential factor in coming up with solutions that put learners in the driving seat is to consider what they expect to get from L&D.

What Are Your Learners Expectations Pub 01 8 17

If we look at those who 'pull' learning towards them, their expectations are that they'll be able to access learning as and when they identify a need. So, the canny L&D practitioner makes sure learners know how to find and apply it, and that they feel empowered to do so.

'Push' learners will also have expectations, but they might be negative. They might expect long modules, for example, or mind-numbing PowerPoint-driven courses, or boring compliance quizzes—and they certainly may not expect clarity on how the learning will benefit them. So, these need to be challenged before we can move to a ‘pull’ learning culture.

We’ve identified three key areas of impact in which L&D’s solutions affect learners: in their understanding of career, performance, and the organisation they work for.

How can L&D harness learners’ expectations of each of these, and deliver successful learning?



The new realities of the concept of ‘career’ are “forcing companies to rethink the way they manage careers and deliver always-on L&D opportunities,” says Deloitte’s latest Global Human Capital Trends report.

Learners’ expectations of their career are affecting the way L&D provides solutions for them.

Millennial workers especially want clarity on what is expected of them, and what personal development they will need. In general, people like to be clear about what the expectations are of them—and to be in control.

If L&D can keep learners informed, by making sure information is available about the options available to them, learners are more likely to feel empowered and in control, and to engage with L&D.



In the past, I’ve heard people saying things like, 'You're bound to get at least one good tip out of any training course.'

If learners’ expectations are to get just one useful nugget from a whole day of learning, then it's likely they have no idea what it’s possible to get from the session—and what it is they need to get out of it.

If they had a better idea about how to get from where they are to the best-performing version of themselves, they may not have the attitude that learning courses are such a lottery!

People often attend programmes not being crystal clear at the outset about why and how it will help them do their job better—because they don't know how they can do their job better.

Many organisations have things like competency frameworks, talent routes, and so on, which are useful for doing this. There's a clear call to action for L&D and managers here—if you haven't got a formal career pathway, you may need to look at working with learners in order to set career expectations, and making it clear how and when learners are succeeding, and when they need L&D’s help to get to the next level.



In any new job, you’d expect to be able to access development opportunities based on the areas in which it's identified that you could perform better, and where it is you want to go with your career. The identification of those areas, happens in conversations with my line manager—and you would expect those conversations to be offered, to be timely, and to be effective.

There are also different types of learning people get in the workplace, depending on their roles, competencies and goals. Because of the nature of my work, a lot of my learning is self-directed. It comes from asking questions and getting feedback—part of the ‘20’ in 70:20:10.

For example, when I write a blogpost or a whitepaper, as a content marketer, I liaise with our subject matter experts to get to the facts and information that will form the basis for what I'm writing. I ask questions, receive recommendations for areas to research further and primary and secondary sources to use and cite in my work.

This is social learning in action.


To move from a ‘push’ to ‘pull’ learning culture, L&D can and should use learners’ expectations to deliver successful learning.

Meeting and sometimes challenging their expectations in each of these areas will help adjust and change, if necessary, the way they relate to L&D.

If learners’ expectation of L&D is that it can’t really do anything for them, then we need to appraise them differently – otherwise we’ll be stuck in the same old rut of pushing learning out, while wondering why learners seem less than thrilled and engaged, and our ROI sucks!

Want to know more? Hit the button below to get in touch. My colleagues can help you build your perfect 'pull' learning culture, and remove the back-breaking work from blended learning - one step at a time.

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Natalie Lewendon, Content and Marketing Executive

Bringing you business, leadership and L&D wisdom from the experts.

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