Rock and Role – What’s our roll look like in the future?

I know I just used the wrong type of “rolls” in the title. I always get a kick out of people when they use the wrong roll, role or wear and where, and hare and hair. I mean I think sometimes I am a bit dyslexic too. I can hardly spell  – but I think its because I have grown up in the spell check era – and anything that I have constantly spelled wrong, has been auto-corrected for me and I don’t know the RIGHT (or write) way to actually spell it (or sometimes it corrects itself!).

Anyways that was a tangent  – but I have been thinking a lot lately, mostly because it’s been the topic of a few different discussions and communities of practice about the ROLE of Learning and Development.

A few weeks ago, I was in a lunch meeting with a very intelligent man in the communications area of a huge R&D company. We talked about how his teams were struggling with their jobs – not in the fact that they weren’t doing them but they were realizing that they had lost control of the message. The real question is – did they ever really control it? I think the same goes for L&D  – when did this shift happen, or did we ever have control?   Were people not going and getting their own information when we didn’t have a formal class on the subject? Honestly, I think they were getting information elsewhere.

I haven’t worked in L&D for really that long – almost 3 years actually – so honestly who is to say that I really knew what the ROLE looked like – however I do want to have an impact in the way it looks in the future… But what do I want it to look like in the future? I really don’t KNOW. Does anyone? If you do, fill me in.

What do I wish that this role looks like in the future? Facilitator of behavioral change.  Now thats a BIG job. Training is a basic building block for change, but its not the only thing that facilitates change. “Training” comes in all sorts and sizes and methods. Social, informal, on the job, just in time, classroom, lecture, workshop, webinar, webcasts, sessions, presentations, activities are just the beginning. I think the role of L&D professionals is going to have to help the business facilitate change. And work WITH them to figure out what the best methods are to combat resistance and to get people on board to head down the path to success.  Also I know that training is not always the solution and you have to be armed and ready for people who think that training should be able to solve everything.

For example, a recent conversation with my new manager went like this:

me “People need basic training on our product.”

manager “ok – lets make a video blog. “

me “uh? no. thats not really… ” and I lost the attention of my manager.

He wants a quick fix. And unfortunately there isn’t one.  Sorry. Change is hard. Getting people to switch from one thing they are used to and to do something different is really hard. To say that a video blog is going to train them, isn’t really THE solution. (what the heck is a video blog anyways??) This may be apart of the solution. But back up and let’s figure out what the problem is first. And I don’t think there is a one size fits all type of solution for my role. I do know adults (myself included) like to get their hands dirty  rather than listen to someone talk through 40 slides.

So in my own honest opinion some key things we will need for future for this role is:

  • Change Management background, skills, knowledge and anything else related to change
  • Having an open mind – without limiting to what people may need
  • Communication skills
  • Business acumen and business process knowledge.  I am not an expert by any means but the time I spent learning Purchasing, Customer Service, Manufacturing, Accounts Receivable and General Ledger stuff has proved invaluable. You have to know the business and different areas. No question about it.
  • Planning – get the bigger picture down on paper – but be OK if it needs to tweaked or adjusted.
  • Technology savvy. There is really no way around this, it has become an expectation, especially in social media.
What about you? What skills do you think are needed for the L&D role in the future?


Changement…. That’s a made up word in English (i guess its a french word.. no wonder I thought it was OK to type). But lately the term change management has been on my mind so much that I made it into one word. Like I have spelled it as the title of the blog post, without realizing what I was doing.

Change management play such a huge role in training. Its almost the first step and the training is a by product of the change management approach. We have dedicated change management people on my team and its been great to learn from them. They have been really focusing on things that a trainer also had to focus on, without the title. I remember working on a project before SAP and the change management was so huge. I mean, your solution should be user friendly enough that your customers don’t need trained right? Not the case with this project. But I felt like I couldn’t devote enough time to the changement because of the amount of training documentation that needed to be done. The changement piece brings about the right stakeholder in the room to make decisions about the change and get the word out. Training piece of the pie helps by working the change into the training. You could say that training is basically a form of changement. Or that’s what I have come to think anyways.

Your customer desire training because of a change they are expecting to see – whether it’s performance, system, behavioral or some other change. It stems from that. The thing that I have seen is that people dint think the change is that big of a deal and they don’t do much about it…. That’s when issues come into place. I think that sometimes changes with for example a system can really shake  the identity of the employee.

An example of this came last weakened when I was painting with a good friend and she was telling me how distraught her sister was at her work. Her sister is a nurse and they are rolling out a mobile system that the nurse have to enter the patient’s data so that way next time they come in their vitals, allergies and everything is already in the system. Sounds really cool to me, however my friend went on to explain that it’s really caught her sister off guard. She gets it, about being up to date with systems and technology, but how does this system make her a better caregiver to each and everyone of her patients? She has been an amazing care-giving for many years without THIS so why now? Her sister is going through identity crisis at 52 wondering if she really was meant to be a nurse at all or if  she should hang up her scrubs now while she is ahead.  As she was telling me this story I knew what was missing…. There wasn’t any one managing the change that would affect their workforce. No one understood why, and why now, and the Whats in it for me, and the reasoning. The target group wasn’t involved in building the solution, thus took no ownership when it finally became the reality.

This happens all the time, but what should organizations do about it? What are your organizations doing about that changes that come into the work place? Or is your organization mature and not changing anything anytime soon? do you have dedicated people focused in change and the impact it will have on your organization? What do they do? I would love to hear your thought or stories of good or bad changement