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Stephanie Morgan

Bray Leino Learning

Former Director of Learning Solutions

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Five pitfalls L&D should avoid in 2019


What common mistakes do L&D practitioners need to be wary to avoid this year?

Last month I shared tips and approaches for creating a powerful learning strategy. Now that we’re officially in the new year I want to turn this on its head and take a moment to think about common mistakes that L&D need to avoid in 2019.

In our industry, the start of a new year brings fresh opportunities to support the growth of the business and have a positive and lasting impact on learners. But before we start jumping into making plans and resolutions for the future, we need a reality check.

Towards Maturity research has consistently shown that as an industry L&D are standing still, unable to achieve our goals year-on-year. I think one reason for this is that we keep falling into the same traps, making the same mistakes over and over again.

It’s time we shed some light on these common pitfalls and make 2019 the year we say goodbye to them for good.

1. Neglecting your own development

If you only heed one thing from this article, make it this: neglecting your own development is detrimental to your business and your learners.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common for learning professionals to neglect their own development in favour of focusing on the rest of the business. This is a key reason why the data shows L&D is standing still – because there is a shortage of skills needed to drive learning and the business forwards.

Sometimes, knowing what skills you need or where to begin is part of the problem, but we’re starting to catch on. With tools like the LPI Capability Map and the CIPD Profession Map, there really is no excuse for neglecting your own learning and development.

2. Resting on your laurels

A really valuable lesson L&D learned in 2018, was that we can’t rest on our laurels and keep doing what has worked well for us in the past.

The Transformation Curve proved to our industry that if we want to succeed, we need to be in a constant state of transformation, always looking to the future and adapting our strategies and tactics to suit the changing pace of this VUCA world.

It’s seems counter-intuitive to stop doing what has always worked well in the past, but be assured by the Towards Maturity data – you need to let go if you want to keep growing and succeeding.  

3. Ignoring industry research

In the past, the amount of accessible, reliable and useful research available for learning professionals was a little bit disappointing. Luckily this is no longer the case. The past couple of years have been pretty groundbreaking with the amount of data and insights about L&D.

In 2018 alone we saw a flurry of invaluable research, from The State of Leadership Development report to the 2018 edition of The Future of Jobs.

The only stumbling block here is that L&D are out of the habit of using this research to guide and support their learning strategies. It really will give you the edge you need to succeed if you keep an eye on the latest industry research and think about how it applies to your learners and your organisation.

4. Chasing trends that aren’t right for your organisation

Every industry gets swept up in the latest trends, and L&D is no different.

Just think, a few years ago blended learning was all the rage, it was talked about at all the events and written about in all of the publications.

That’s old hat now, and I for one am seeing more and more about the possibilities of new learning tech like VR/AR/AI.

Of course, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s going on within the industry, but before you invest your time or budget in the latest trends, make sure what you’re doing is right for your organisation and your learners.

Just because it’s the latest buzz doesn’t mean it’s the right fit.

5. Not measuring success

There’s something about ROI that makes learning professionals want to put their head in the sand. And I’m not surprised. Measuring ROI in learning is a bit of an enigma, with no industry-approved model laid out for us to follow.

Thankfully, digital learning and advances in how we use and analyse data are making it easier than ever before to measure ROI in learning, so there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a key part of every learning strategy.

After all, without successful measurement, you won’t be able to act on the successes and failures of your strategy or prove your value to the board.

So, before you hit the ground running this new year, I think it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about what it is you need to stop doing that might have held you back in the past.


2 Responses

  1. Great points Stephanie. You
    Great points Stephanie. You could summarise all of these as “L&D need to spend more time on themselves” when you consider time to digest research, think of innovation thats right for your organisation etc.

    6…Don’t panic – don’t worry if your culture is behind the “topdeck”, or you don’t have LMS, e-learning etc. Keep working on your organisation, moving it forward in the right direction, allowing time for real change in culture.

    1. Thanks Blake, I love your
      Thanks Blake, I love your number 6, that is so true, sometimes it feels like you can never win, but one step at a time and you will move forward. Identifying the skills you need to develop to influence some of the barriers would be a great place to start.

      I wonder if anyone has any more to add, see if we can get it to 10!

Author Profile Picture
Stephanie Morgan

Former Director of Learning Solutions

Read more from Stephanie Morgan

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