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Hannah Gore

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS)

Head of People (EMEA & US)

Read more from Hannah Gore

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Transforming L&D from ‘nice to have’ to ‘need to have’

In the ever-evolving landscape of organisational dynamics, learning and development (L&D) often finds itself relegated to the status of a ‘nice to have’ department rather than being recognised as the operational imperative it truly is. It's time for a paradigm shift.
person standing on brown concrete building during daytime symbolising the power of L&D and the need for a paradigm shift

As someone deeply passionate about the transformative power of L&D, I believe it's imperative that we not only recognise our worth but also assertively position ourselves as indispensable assets within our organisations.

From ‘nice to have’ to trailblazers

Let's be honest – working in L&D is a labour of love. Our passion for helping individuals realise their full potential is what drives us each day. 

However, this very passion can sometimes lead us to be perceived as too ‘lovely’ or non-essential. It's time to change that perception. 

We must recognise the immense value we bring to the table and start owning our power.

The first step in this transformation is to prioritise our own professional development. Too often, we find ourselves at the back of the queue when it comes to investing in our own growth. 

It's time to change that narrative. By identifying and acquiring the skills, qualifications and knowledge necessary to excel in our roles, we position ourselves as trailblazers within our organisations.

We must recognise the immense value we bring to the table

Networking and collaboration: Building bridges beyond L&D

Effective communication and networking are essential tools in our arsenal. We must extend our reach beyond the confines of our department and engage with stakeholders across the organisation. 

By building relationships with business, operational and marketing teams, we gain valuable insights into organisational objectives and needs. 

These conversations should not be limited to annual appraisals but should occur frequently and proactively.

Effective communication and networking are essential tools

Aligning L&D with organisational goals

To truly make an impact, we must align our initiatives with the strategic objectives of the organisation. 

By acquiring a deep understanding of the company's five-year plan and identifying gaps between forecasts and reality, we can tailor our L&D strategies to address specific organisational needs. 

This proactive approach ensures that our efforts contribute directly to achieving the company's overarching goals.

Positioning L&D as a strategic partner

Armed with our newly acquired skills and insights, it's time to assert our influence within the organisation. 

By pitching our strategic plan to the HR Director and advocating for the integration of personal development into the core fabric of organisational culture, we can catalyse a fundamental shift in how L&D is perceived. 

This seemingly simple action has the potential to transform the appraisal process and empower employees to prioritise their own growth and development.

It's time to assert our influence within the organisation

Recognising our value as essential assets

Ultimately, the transformation of L&D from a ‘nice to have’ to ‘need to have’ department begins with us. 

We must recognise our own value and assertively position ourselves as indispensable assets within our organisations. 

By embracing our potential, networking collaboratively, aligning with organisational goals and negotiating influence, we can catalyse a cultural shift that elevates L&D to its rightful place at the forefront of organisational strategy.

Next steps

1. Conduct a skills assessment

A comprehensive skills assessment can identify gaps and areas for improvement. 

This will provide valuable insights into the specific learning needs of employees and help tailor L&D initiatives accordingly.

2. Align L&D with organisational goals

Meet with key stakeholders, including senior leaders and department heads, to understand their objectives and priorities. 

By demonstrating how L&D can support these goals, you can position it as a critical driver of organisational success.

3. Develop a strategic plan

Outline clear objectives, priorities and action steps. 

Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of L&D initiatives and track progress towards achieving strategic goals.

4. Invest in technology and resources

Evaluate what’s available for delivering L&D initiatives and identify areas for improvement. 

Invest in innovative tools and platforms that enhance the learning experience and make training more accessible and engaging for employees.

5. Promote a learning culture

Foster a culture of continuous learning within the organisation by promoting the value of ongoing development and growth. 

Encourage employees to take ownership of their own learning journey and provide opportunities for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Foster a culture of continuous learning within the organisation

6. Offer diverse learning opportunities

Expand the range of learning opportunities available to employees by offering a mix of traditional and modern training methods. 

This could include instructor-led workshops, e-learning modules, on-the-job training and mentorship programmes.

7. Measure impact and ROI

Implement robust measurement and evaluation processes to assess the impact of L&D initiatives on employee performance and organisational outcomes. 

Gather feedback from participants, track key metrics, and analyse data to determine the return on investment (ROI) of L&D activities.

8. Collaborate with other departments

Work closely with other departments, such as HR, operations and marketing, to identify synergies and opportunities for collaboration. 

By aligning L&D initiatives with broader organisational initiatives, you can maximise impact and drive results.

9. Stay ahead of trends

Stay informed about emerging trends and best practices in the field of L&D. 

Attend industry conferences, participate in webinars and engage with professional networks to stay updated on the latest developments and innovations.

10. Advocate for L&D at the executive level

Advocate for the importance of L&D at the executive level by presenting compelling business cases and demonstrating the strategic value it brings to the organisation. 

Position yourself as a trusted advisor and strategic partner who can contribute to decision making and drive organisational success.

By taking these tangible next steps, L&D professionals can elevate the status of their department within the organisation and position themselves as indispensable drivers of employee development and organisational growth.

Final thoughts 

As we embark on this journey of transformation, let us remember that the industry needs us, and we need to see ourselves as more than just a ‘nice to have’. 

By recognising our own worth and advocating for our value within our organisations, we can drive tangible change that benefits both individuals and the organisation as a whole, because the future of L&D is bright, and we are at the forefront of it all.

if you liked this article, read: How to make your business more resilient

Author Profile Picture
Hannah Gore

Head of People (EMEA & US)

Read more from Hannah Gore

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