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.