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 their people.
Over recent months, I’ve talked about the skills L&D need to remain ahead of the game and be able to deliver outstanding learning results that are aligned with business objectives. These skills enable L&D to position themselves as L&D business partners within their organisations, but it does mean a complex list of skills are required in order to be successful.
Let’s take a look at what those skills are and why they’re important.
Understanding the business problem
Understanding the business problem is key to the success of a business partner, which means the important skills required will be performance consulting and stakeholder engagement.
Performance consulting skills give you the ability to truly understand what your learners require. Having great stakeholder engagement skills will allow you to be on the front line when it comes to strategy creation and business objectives – getting your stakeholders to keep you informed of the results they need to see will allow you to identify parallels and gaps between the key business problem and the skills of your people.
This is where the creation and management of a learning strategy comes in – another key skill. Having knowledge of the business and learners will give you direction, but the ability to create a functional and effective learning strategy, and deliver it, is vital for a successful L&D business partner.
Design and delivery
Of course, being an L&D business partner won’t necessarily mean a step away from design and delivery, so there are important skills needed here.
We all know that the learning landscape is changing, quite dramatically for some industries. Digital learning is paramount to engaging, results-driven learning, and we need to be sure we are capitalising on this.
Therefore, being able to deliver virtual classrooms and webinars, and develop digital content will stand any successful L&D business partner in good stead. On top of this, the creation and implementation of blended learning has become very important and should be explored further by L&D business partners.
Supporting workplace performance has always been a crucial skill for L&D, and it still is. After all, this is one of the core L&D functions, and it’s one that cannot be forgotten, despite the increased focus on strategies.
How we do this, however, has changed in the past ten years and it’s now really important for L&D business partners to adopt these changes. For example, while coaching and mentoring has been on many of our agendas for some time, it is becoming more widely adopted and sought after by career-driven learners. We need to continue honing this skill and delivering this development to our people.
Another key focus for L&D is the ability to facilitate social and collaborative learning. As you know, social learning has seen a huge boom in recent years and being able to effectively facilitate this will have an extremely positive impact on your results.
Programme evaluation is at the heart of learning, and I’ve no doubt it’s a skill you already have and use all the time. Keep doing so.
Needless to say, it has become more complicated in recent years with the exponential rise in digital and social learning, and the change in strategies to reflect that, but a good L&D business partner is able to look at the big picture, evaluating programmes and overall plans effectively.
Hand in hand with this is the ability to use data analytics effectively. LMSs and virtual learning platforms have given us a whole host of analytics at our fingertips. It’s so important that we utilise these effectively. To do this, be sure that you know exactly what you want to discover from the data so that you are looking at the right thing.
You’ll have seen that marketing in L&D has been infiltrating industry news more and more over the past year. While you are not expected to be a marketing expert, L&D business partners should have a good idea of their brand and how to promote their solutions to learners. This comes under managing learning because it is a skill best used in the overall management of your learning. Speaking to your learners, understanding how effective your solutions are and being flexible with your approach are marketing attributes that any successful business partner should have.
And all of this can be managed with project management skills. All L&D practitioners will have some project management experience but being able to not only manage it but adapt accordingly is key here.
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L&D Business Partners need to be sure that they’re developing themselves, as well as their people. It’s so important to consider the skills gaps in your team and help L&D evolve to meet the growing demands of our learners.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
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