Why is it so important for people professionals to be involved across all levels of your organisation?
We’ve discussed how, in order to be best placed to make the greatest possible impact, we must become integral to the business.
A closer union between L&D and business brings unique benefits and advantages to the in-house L&D team. Here’s how.
Get the inside track
Being inside the business offers valuable 'inside intelligence'. Over the last decade, marketing and advertising agency OLIVER popularised the approach of building dedicated agencies inside clients' businesses - building transparency and empathy, trust and commitment.
Your position inside the business allows you access to stakeholders, and the 'face time' needed to build rapport that can later lead to being able to gather better intelligence on business needs, challenges and strengths, and any skills gaps you need to anticipate.
Have your voice heard
Having a voice at all levels of your organisation means you can be part of the conversation about what the business needs.
Involving stakeholders in your learning strategy ensures that you stay on track and is relevant to changing business needs.
One way to deliver on this is to involve stakeholder networking into your reporting. Establishing a learning governance board is one way to exchange information with different levels and areas of the business.
The stakeholders you involve get oversight of your activities, developing their understanding and valuation of what learning and performance can look like in their teams.
See what's coming down the road
You need to know where you are headed before you can assess what you need in order to get there.
Your knowledge of the business’s stakeholders is what gets you into the room and part of the conversations you need to hear, in order to anticipate business needs down the line.
Our Director of Learning Solutions Stephanie advocates stalking stakeholders to get the low-down. “Create chances to meet with, bump into or chat with key stakeholders, and keep asking how they feel about the challenge or situation which your proposal will address. Try and find out what they would consider to be a success, as this will be what your proposal needs to aim for."
Benefit from your reputation
One of your best assets, as an in-house L&D practitioner, is the information you receive from stakeholders and managers.
Stakeholders give you the business direction - where you're going - and the managers give you what the business has - what are people's skills, strengths and areas where they require improvement?
Your job is to do the arithmetic between the two: where you're going minus what we have equals what do we need?
If you're talking to people within your business every day, asking good questions, engaging in your ongoing business needs analysis and always gathering data and intelligence to feed in to the big picture, the more you're going to be able to use in order to make decisions and accurately assess your business's needs.
Your presence in the business means that the more people trust you, the better information and more of it they're going to be happy giving you.
Ask questions, get answers
Your colleagues should feel that they can go to a skilled L&D business partner in a crisis and trust you to help them move forward, to challenge them to come up with a solution. You want them to feel they can rely on you to help them explore options, think things through, and be thorough.
As an L&D business partner, it’s crucial that you strike a balance between supporting and challenging managers and stakeholders.
Colleagues should be listened to, but also must be gently examined—especially when giving you information that might impact your work.
Fix problems, not symptoms
The answers to your questions could reveal a completely different problem to the one a manager thinks they have.
It's easy to take things at face value—to believe everything managers tell you, and to then try to come up with a solution. Instead, become a performance detective.
Remember: you are the one who is skilled at identifying needs. It's your job to assess and fact-check what you're hearing. That's all about asking good questions, as we touched on above.
Becoming intimately involved with the business puts L&D in a strong position. From here, we have access to the intelligence we need to do great work: learning needs, wants, challenges and pain points.
The more you know, the better your odds of being able to supply the learning solution that unlocks maximum potential and achieves your business's objectives.
If you’re looking for a little direction with your learning strategy, then why not download our whitepaper on Building a successful learning strategy.
Natalie Lewendon, Content and Marketing Executive
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