The reality is that seasonal training is not a one-and-done execution—it’s actually a regular event, even as it’s delivered to learners in short spurts and within specific timeframes—and it should be designed and managed in the context of an organization’s overall learning strategy. Learning professionals are all too familiar with last-minute training requests; seasonal training need not fall into that black hole.
Corporate Strategy and Learning Center
This is frustrating, but not surprising. L&D professionals spend so much time with one another that it can be easy to forget or neglect to prioritize building strong relationships with leaders in other areas of the business.
The good news is, each day offers opportunities to go beyond the L&D bubble and really get inside the business, start the conversation, and gain credibility for your L&D organization. Here are some tips for learning leaders to build business credibility and relationships with counterparts across the enterprise.
The concept of curation may seem out of place in the learning & development world—it’s a term from visual arts that is now being used (some would argue misused) across the culture. But thinking about curation is perhaps just what L&D needs to exercise the proper selection and care of the learning objects and materials in our purview. A curator’s mindset can be used to engage perhaps the most neglected, even missing, part of many curricula: the core.
The curation of the core can be a way to invest in culture, make learning more experiential, and to induce a learning ecosystem. Just as importantly, curation can be used to reform the core as way to foster managed change.
But let’s begin with a story from far outside L&D that shows us the nature of a symbiotic curation...
More often than not, we find that learning leaders with a business background have an easier time gaining traction with their peers on the business side—exerting influence and being included in early-stage initiative planning—than do those who came up through the ranks of the L&D organization.
Existing relationships with business stakeholders play a role in this, of course, but one of the biggest reasons for the influence gap is the language barrier. Simply put, the way that learning leaders tend to define and talk about success differs from the way business leaders measure and discuss it.
Learning and development leaders tend to reference learning KPIs—training hours provided and eLearning modules created, for example—rather than ROI, bottom-line impact, and the kinds of meaningful metrics that ultimately drive decision making. Learning and development as an industry needs to do a better job of conveying our successes in a way that connects more meaningfully and directly with enterprise business objectives.
Why a One-Page Learning Plan? Think of it as the executive summary of the entire learning organization.
The One-Page Plan boils the bulky, complex business case down into readily digestible bullet points and basic details. It acts as a communication vehicle for the learning organization, trying together what is important to the business with how L&D is aligned to it.
The beauty of the One-Page Learning Plan is its ability to succinctly pull together several components of effective learning strategy into a single document: business alignment, performance improvement, the Maturity Model, and a learning metrics and measurement overview. The One-Page Plan incorporates all of those into a plan that can be easily shared with business stakeholders.
The major types of modern training each have their advocates among learning professionals, and we believe there is a time and place for eLearning, instructor-led training, virtual ILT, and on-the-job training, along with their many sub-genres. That’s why a blended learning curriculum that incorporates several training formats into an integrated whole is often the best instructional design strategy.
Blended learning leverages the strengths of each delivery type to align with how people acquire and apply knowledge and skills. A blended program is often the most efficient and effective way to deliver learning, particularly to large and geographically dispersed populations, and while there is complexity to conceptualizing and implementing a cohesive blended program, the benefits usually make the effort worthwhile. Most crucially, from a learning budget standpoint, by reducing face-to-face time but still retaining a degree of instructor involvement, blended learning allows for considerable cost savings without eliminating the advantages of personalized interaction.
Here are some examples of how different learning components can work together to form an effective blended strategy.
Learning leaders often dread budget season, and it’s not just because budget development can be tedious and time-consuming. In many learning & development organizations, years of funding shortfalls and allocation denials are reason for pessimism and frustration even before the L&D budget is actually submitted.
Developing a learning budget is a skill that takes careful planning, and if you’re not prepared to justify and defend your funding requests, there’s a good chance your L&D organization won’t get the spending authority it needs to be successful in its mission.
Don’t just cross your fingers and hope the dollars come through—it’s time to take a strategic approach to budgeting. Here are five tips learning leaders should keep in mind when creating an L&D budget.
As learning and development professionals, we intuitively understand the many business benefits of a well-run, fully engaged L&D function. Alas, business executives have not always so readily recognized the value that learning organizations can provide.
Fortunately, that’s beginning to change, as learning leaders become more adept at using meaningful metrics to prove the true business value of L&D. With that newfound respect and understanding from the business side comes increased scrutiny on the efficiency of the learning organization—the fact is, most L&D groups have not undergone the kinds of operational transformations that other business units routinely do, and are not operating anywhere near their peak performance as a result.
A learning and development organization that lacks effective metrics and measurement is going to have a difficult time proving its business value to the enterprise. Having comprehensive learning metrics in place is a key reason that successful learning leaders have the respect of business leaders and are able to get their talent development initiatives funded.
When taking the first steps toward implementing a measurement process, try not to overthink it. While collecting effective metrics and determining the ROI of learning takes planning and strategizing, it doesn't have to be a terribly complex process.
There are four key areas to focus on in the measurement journey, and they all tie back to business results. By measuring intent, knowledge, performance, and impact, learning leaders achieve insight into how to improve learning solutions—and just as importantly, they'll be able to prove that value to the business.
This challenging question is known as the build vs. buy scenario, and it’s one that learning leaders deal with frequently. Should you go the easy route and purchase a ready-made learning product—one that will necessarily lack key specifics about your organization and industry—or build a customized training program that will meet your learning needs precisely, but which may be more time-consuming and expensive?
How should learning leaders weigh the pros and cons of such a straightforward transactional purchase with the larger, longer-term needs of the organization?