Learning and development (L&D) as a field of management research and practice is concerned with how individuals (either singly or as groups) acquire (in the sense of getting something that already exists) or create (in the sense of making something completely new) knowledge and skills which enable them to perform and grow in their current or future occupational role ("Introduction to L&D").
The primary focus of an L&D professional is to support, develop, and accelerate learning to create agile and responsive companies. In doing so, these companies will be able to implement their chosen business strategy successfully. L&D professionals can either oversee the work of the HR department or specialize in a particular area of interest.
The Departments Where L&D Professionals Can Work
L&D professionals can find a lot to do in the Human Resources (HR) department. If they assume the duties and responsibilities of the HR professionals — referred to as the “generalist role” — they will learn a diverse set of skills and gain experiences. They can also specialize in a particular area such as:
- Employee Engagement
- Employee Relations
- Employment Law
- Learning, Training, and Development
- Organization Development
- Performance and Reward
- Recruitment and Talent Planning
An L&D professional will require a certain set of skills to perform their job efficiently.
The Importance of an L&D Department
Companies need to have an L&D department. Without one, they will find it difficult to develop their employees from a career perspective, which will not only limit the growth of their employees but also the company’s, as they will not have a competitive advantage and value in the market.
Do you have an L&D department? If you do have an L&D department, but it is not yielding results, you need to evaluate the training activities. The problem may lie in how you have designed the training activities. If a training activity is not working, it is inefficient and ineffective, meaning that you need to either modify it or replace it with one that works.
Remember, a successful L&D department helps companies perform, deliver results, and meet and exceed the expectations of customers. To do that, you need to deliver learning objectives to learners not in a week, day, or a couple of hours, but in minutes.
If you want your L&D department to succeed and improve employee efficiency and productivity, you need to understand the six critical roles of the L&D department.
The 6 Critical Roles L&D Departments Need to Fill to Succeed
An L&D department is an important part of a company, but establishing it and then managing it is no easy task. If you want your L&D department to succeed in delivering engagement, business results, and making L&D professionals stand out for their role of designing activities to help employees perform better, here are six critical roles your L&D department needs to fill to excel:
1. Performance Consultant
A performance consultant actively approaches business units, determined to understand the challenges and obstacles which both the leaders and their team experience. They come up with various ways to tackle the challenges and overcome the obstacles. They design solutions that can resolve the issues they are facing and increase performance within that department.
Success will only come if the performance consultant possesses a clear understanding of the challenges faced by businesses as well as have know-how of old and new tools as well as new positions available to them. Some of the tools they can use to create a solution include:
- Micro learning content
- User generated content
- Performance observational assessments
- Reflective assessments
- Instant search
- Mobile app experience
- Manual and automatic curation
- Responsive experience
- One to one training
- E-mentoring and e-coaching
- Competence/evidence-based questions
- Continuous conversations
- Machine learning discovery tools, from both within and outside of the organization
- API Integration directly into business systems
- API integration with 3rd party learning apps
- Virtual classroom
All these elements are essential parts of online course development process. Basically, the combination of all of them will form training courses that will deliver expected results.
2. Experience Designer
An experienced designer takes the brief from the performance consultant who lists all the tools they require to deliver the desired outcome. Next, they design a plan keeping the target audience they are catering with the eLearning course in mind.
3. Storyteller and Videographer
A storyteller and videographer can deliver the results either on the same day or within the same week. For instance, a videographer can capture around 7 to 8 videos and spend roughly 2 days animating them. They can create an engaging and interactive lesson for learners for which they need to possess post-production editing skills.
4. Animator or Visualizer
In smaller companies, the storyteller and videographer is the animator or visualizer, but in bigger companies, there is a separate person responsible for it. In fact, animating eLearning courses can increase the attention span of learners by 80% and retention level by 15%.
An animator or visualizer possesses the ability to understand the underlying message that they need to create a visual for so learners can process the lesson by looking at pictures combined with sound. The combination of visuals and audio increases the capacity of learners to understand and retain the lesson.
5. Community Engagement Manager
A community engagement manager ensures consistent levels of social learning engagement between the eLearning course and learners. To ensure learners are engaged with the lesson, they use technology with the assumption that the learners would know how to use it.
For instance, a community engagement manager will look at the demographic and then act as the facilitator who attains prior knowledge on where they can find good material and stories. They will then find a way to convey their findings to the learners in the form of a 10 to 15-minute recording session or 2 to 3-minute content that they will either listen to or read.
Other roles of a community engagement manager include using digital and social media marketing and will depend on data analysts to provide the answers to crucial questions such as who is the most influential person in the company — asking them to create engagement — can they author the content, the influencers on social media who can share the content with their followers, and determining a suitable time to share the content.
6. Data Analysts
A data analyst provides customer success managers with insights on how they can use LinkedIn and the different types of benefits they can obtain from using it. Performance consultants will also use the information they receive from the data analysts to modify their eLearning course, making it more effective and efficient.
Once the roles have been established and the L&D department set up, the next thing you need to do is to create clear training objectives and incorporate them into your L&D strategy.
The 4 Training Objectives to Make Part of Your L&D Strategy
Here are four training objectives you need to include in your L&D strategy:
- Organizational Development – The L&D strategy objectives you establish need to draw the line between your eLearning course and the expected outcome of it on organizational development and business goals. Most importantly, ensure you create a suitable L&D strategy, keeping the target audience in mind. In doing so, you can develop the skills that will help them excel in leadership roles within the company.
- Employee Satisfaction – Make L&D programs part of your value proposition to learners. For instance, a top professional wants to work for a company that supports the need to learn and develop skills. For this reason, create an L&D strategy that contributes to employee recruitment and retention.
- Solidifying the Talent Pool – You need to establish clear objectives for your L&D strategy with leveraging management training programs being one of them. Management training programs ensure the development of employees by building their skill set in two ways — within the management level and along the talent pipeline.
- Further Developing the L&D Strategy – You need to change and modify your L&D strategy over the years, as needs would change. You will also need to swap the management training tools you are using now for something else later.
Therefore, when you create your L&D strategy objectives, you need to keep the future of your training and development programs in mind as well as the improvement measures you can implement to enhance their effectiveness.
With your L&D strategy in place, you need to include Key Performance Indicators to measure the various training and development programs you have designed for return on investment (ROI).
Developing Key Performance Indicators — Measuring the Success of a Training and Development Program
The following Key Performance Indicators will inform you if your training and development program is a success, failure, or needs further tweaking:
- Does your L&D program align with your business objectives and challenges? (eLearning courses that help build leadership skills in employees)
- Has your L&D program increased employee satisfaction, loyalty, and retention?
- Has your L&D program developed unity and commitment to business objectives among teams?
- Are your employees transferring learned skills they learned via the eLearning course to their jobs?
Now, the next step is to involve both learners and managers into participating in the eLearning course, and it is the L&D department’s responsibility to make them look forward to the training.
3 Ways the L&D Department Can Engage Managers and Learners with the eLearning Training Course
Here are three ways the L&D department can engage managers and learners with the eLearning training course:
Prepare Managers and Leaners for the eLearning Training Course
The L&D department needs to work with managers, emphasizing the importance and urgency of the eLearning training course. To do this, they will create a connection between learning new skills and job performance. They need to make managers realize the importance of learning, establishing it as an investment that will promote the growth and success of the business. Once the L&D department has done this, managers can explain it to their team.
Share and Teach Learning Content
L&D departments can instructor employees to share and teach content to each other. For instance, the manager will provide an employee with some information on a subject and send them to research more about it. When the employee returns, they can share it with others.
Start Open Dialogue between L&D Departments and Managers
After the completion of the eLearning course, your L&D department needs to communicate with managers to assess its success. They should also prompt managers to hold a meeting with their team to discuss what they learned from it. The L&D department can provide managers with a set of questions such as how the lesson relates to their job and how they want to measure their performance.
The L&D department can coach managers on how they can assist their employees to improve their performance because when they do it, there is a higher chance that employees will retain the knowledge and practice it.
If you do not have an L&D department, consider establishing one, filling the positions needed to design an eLearning program for employees.