The year is now in full swing and I’m really excited about the learning innovations that LINGOs has in store, but then I’m a Learning and Development professional – and perhaps you are too! What we really need is for people across our organizations to get excited about using learning to make a bigger impact.
In this blog I’ll be sharing five ways to make learning relevant to your whole organization. With increasing pressures on funding and a greater scrutiny on performance, many support functions are coming under the microscope. Information systems, finance, legal, HR and Learning all need to deliver clear and sustainable value or they will be given a mandate to change, be eliminated or be outsourced.
In his book, ‘Human Resource Champions’ (published 1997), David Ulrich presents the HR business partnering model in which HR teams integrate thoroughly into the wider organization and align their day-to-day work to help achieve wider objectives. This equally applies to Learning and other support functions. To deliver more growth, value and impact, Learning cannot not be something we plan and promote from behind our desks.
Here are five things you can do to embed Learning in your organization effectively:
- Scrap the idea of ‘business as usual.’ Before planning anything or adopting a new problem-solving tool get out into the wider organization and talk to people. Make sure you are working on things that really matter and using tools that really make a difference. Learning can only be effective in an organization if it is relevant – and that’s not something one person or team can do from behind a desk.
- Go and see the organizational leaders. Ask what keeps them up at night, what change they’d like to see. Then ask yourself how Learning can help the organization get ready for the leaders’ change agenda and strategic vision. Learning plans should be aligned to the organization’s wider objectives as well as help overcome the challenges it faces along the way.
- Become embedded within your organization’s departments, especially key units like programmes and fundraising. Collaborate with them and ensure they can deliver value by having their teams ready, informed and capable. Coach functional leaders to think about learning holistically and as a solution, not just an employee benefit or a box to fill in once a year. In short, work closely with key unit managers and help them manage the development process.
- Get on board with organization-wide initiatives. There may be big projects and change initiatives in the pipeline that will require your support and help. Stay informed and ask the project team how you can help with any challenges. It may not occur to them to see Learning as a solution so make sure you’re proactive, clued up and ready to assist.
- Make sure you are seen as the organization’s Learning specialists. Work closely with core elements of the organization and provide technical insights on Learning issues such as new initiatives, leadership development, talent management, team building, organization development, shadowing, and so forth. Remember, it’s not tools that you’re promoting but your expertise and Learning itself.
Learning professionals who push for alignment, integration and innovation across the whole organization are more likely to contribute to organizational success. Make sure you become an integral part of the strategy, key projects and the future of the organization rather than the nice-to-have department that is sacrificed at the exact moment when you can be making the biggest difference.
So don’t wait to be asked, don’t wonder why you were not consulted. Be a proactive enabler. Look to provide solutions that help the organisation reach its goals. Get yourself out there.