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Hot issues for L&D


I am looking to canvass views for a small informal survey. I have two big open questions:
1. What are the hot issues that L&D needs to address at the moment or over the next 2-3 years?
2. Regarding these issues, is there any differencein L&D in the public sector to elsewhere?
Any views, thoughts or examples would be much appreciated.
Graham O'Connell

4 Responses

  1. Hot issues
    1. Responsibility. The most important element in organisations – staff development – is sub contracted by management. They set up a separate department to handle all training or else get people in from outside to undertake staff development.

    Senior managers should accept direct responsibility for staff development and insist all managers do so too. Staff development should be part of the culture of the organisation – everyone is responsible for it but that is impossible while it is sub contracted.

    2. Integrate with work. Leading on from the first challenge – stop accepting requests to run sessions in which the objective is to undertake a fun exercise or provide an overview of time management in 20 minutes.

    Try running events with family units on live issues.

    3. Is it training? Sort out the difference between training and development because they are substantially different.

    4. Intelligence. Raise the level of intelligence in training and HR, adopt more rigorous analysis and give firmer feedback to managers.

    If challenges like these are not met, training will remain an isolated, ineffective and often harmful activity.

    These issues are the same in the public sector as the commercial world, but the public sector is tighter on budgets.

  2. Change – training for it and within it.
    One of the essential big-picture issues that T&D has to deal with, now and increasingly so in the next few years, is managing change and its repercussions – for the organization and for training itself. It’s oxymoronic, and dangerous, that change has become a cliché.

    The fact that change is so talked about should not dull our senses to the rapidly dissolving conceptual foundations on which nearly every job, department, division, organization, and industry is built. Change is pervasive, unpredictable, non-linear, and frighteningly fast. It frequently involves total demolition and from-scratch new construction not just of businesses but of business models.

    Because the landscape is changing so rapidly, opportunities and threats are often first identified as they recede in the rear-view mirror. By the time we have developed a training course to address an issue, it’s no longer important or it has a completely different context.

    Training departments used to be able to take the time to do skills audits and gap analyses, put together relatively stable and sound annual plans, and invest in building solid training solutions for identified problems. You could take one hundred hours to develop one hour of training product, knowing that what you produced would be relevant and effective for long enough to generate a healthy ROI. While that may still be true for certain core training needs, it is not true for training in those areas where a company’s differential advantage is generated and sustained. I am not just talking about the “sharp ends” of the business; I’m talking about the inherent smartness of the business.

    Individual employees and entire companies need to be better able to anticipate, generate, or react to change. That means making them smarter, faster, more flexible, more synergistic.

    To stay relevant and effective, T&D must itself change its perceptions, processes, and outputs. Training professionals have to be willing to change their perceptions of what they do and of what “good practice” is. The well-designed polished course may not be relevant. Training departments as gatherers, re-formulators, and disseminators of skills and knowledge may no longer be relevant. Adjusting Training’s own processes to be more anticipatory and more rapid in response is critical. Collapse or eliminate the course development lead-time; create dynamic learning processes that leverage the skills and experiences of participants; integrate SMEs and managers into the actual learning process; lose the notion of training as a series of products and recast it as an integrated collection of perpetually evolving processes.

    Godfrey Parkin

  3. Big Issue irony
    I posted an expanded version of my comment below on my blog, giving it the title “Big Issue in Training’s Future”. It was not till a while later that I saw the irony… 🙂

    Godfrey Parkin

  4. We are business improvers

    For me, L&D needs to think of itself as a business improver. This means:

    1)Building close relationships with others who are trying to achieve the same ends, such as Quality, Knowledge Management, IT systems improvement projects etc.

    2) L&D structure needs to reflect the organisation. So if there’s a central strategy function, L&D needs a presence, to be there and influence at the time of strategy/tactical formulation. If there’s a dispersed autonomous structure, then L&D needs a presence at the decision-making moments throughout the business. This may be through managers or champions.

    3) Rather than offer products, like presentation skills, or assertiveness, L&D repackages to offer performance improvement for work teams and individuals. Usually a combination of “subjects”.

    4) L&D needs to think about it’s own unique selling points. My belief is that we can diagnose development needs of groups and individuals, we can create memorable and effective learning experiences for adults, we are experts at giving constructive feedback, we have access to a vast range of tools and models, and we know (or some of us know)how to assess whether our skills have improved the business.
    Our role is to build the businesses capacity to do as much of this for itself as it is willing to.

    An example is induction. Induction is about helping a new person to become as effective as possible – as quickly as possible. Too often it is seen as an “event”, very often provided by L&D. Responsibility is wholly with L&D to provide an entertaining and memorable experience. Think of induction as fast-track development and you should be able to see a process (responsibility of the manager) involving a series of meetings, activities and support from selected colleagues. L&D trains managers to coach, gives expert guidance, develops the process and ensures it is integrated within organisational performance management processes.

    Most of these are equally applicable to private and public sectors, however the measures of success will differ. Privates look for bottom-line benefit and shareholder returns. Public wants better value service and effectiveness in terms of achieving specific political targets.



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