Lessons from the L&D world

At a recent Learning & Performance Institute meeting we discussed what makes for a good relationship between a training provider and a training purchaser.

A panel of Learning & Development professionals drawn from a range of companies which buy training at volume, including GSK and a former L&D lead at Disney, gave us their views on what they look for in a good provider.  There were two key points:

  1. A needs-led approach. The purchasers wanted their organisation’s needs to the prime focus of discussion.  They did not want to buy a “one-size fits all” product.
  2. In-put on how to embed and sustain learning in the work-place. All the speakers recognised that the real challenge in L&D is to have an impact on performance e. how people behave at work day-to-day.

Most of the discussion was about large e-learning purchases, so perhaps it was understandable that we seemed to focus on organisational need, in the main.  What was jiggeting about in my head was my sense that learner need is at the heart of the matter.

Yes, L&D needs to be aligned to business outcomes, absolutely.  But my experience dictates that, without a marriage of organisational need and individual learner need, training is not at its best.  When I am standing in front of a room full of learners, I need to be able to reach them; speak to each of them; make sure that my messages resonate with their working lives.  As I stand there, one of the least compelling lines I can use is, “… because your organisation says it must be so”.  If that’s my only justification for getting people to engage with learning, I know I’ve lost them.

The other thing that was clear to me is the amount of consultancy we do as a matter of course, which was not necessarily expected by the client.  I just could not design a course without knowing what impact it was intended to have and how we were going to measure that over time.  Now that solicitors need to generate evidence of competence from all their learning activities, that is even more important.

For me those early stages discovering what is needed and what might be done are amongst the most enjoyable.  Like a patch of untouched snow, they are full of possibility and promise.  I did learn a lot at the LPI event by reflecting on what makes that time special.  And it was a treat to be amongst people who share my enthusiasm for all things related to learning.

Nicola Jones is a director of Athena Professional, a consultancy which helps professional service businesses to work with people to achieve business goals.  She is a former barrister.

Nicola@athenaprofessional.co.uk                            @noo.jones

You can read our white-paper, “What Lawyers Need To Learn” by going to www.athenaprofessional.co.uk

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