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How Does Your Organization View the Training Group?

How does your organization view the training group? Have you thought about it? If not, you should. I have spoken with a number of clients recently who want to elevate their organization’s perception of the training group and are trying to decide how to best go about it. There are various reasons why they are interested in such an initiative; among them the desire to increase budgets for programs and investment in new learning technologies, and to play a more strategic role and add more value within the organization. For some, this has entailed a first step of “re-branding” as Learning & Development; a name that implies more than just training – which is frequently associated with offering instructor-led courses.  This is a good first step, but certainly does not work to fully change the organization’s perceptions of the group.

So…how does your organization view the group?

A first step must be an understanding of how the organization perceives the L&D group (from this point on, we’ll use L&D).  There are multiple ways to do this, including:

  • Feedback gathered from evaluations of employees who have taken training programs
  • One-on-one interviews with business units/departments that the L&D group supports
  • Online surveys of past training program participants
  • Discussions with executive leadership as to how the L&D group is performing and what they would like to see from the group in the future

Once you have an understanding of current perceptions, compare that to what the L&D group perceives as their value to the organization.  What is the gap?

OK…you know how the organization feels about the group…what do you do now?

You took the temperature of the organization and understand their perceptions of the L&D group.  You see the gap between how you want the L&D group to be viewed by the organization and where the organization views the group.  You know where you want the L&D group to head.  Now what?

Think about where you want to take the L&D group.  Organizations today (and many of my clients are certainly seeing this) need L&D to take on a more strategic, value-added role within the organization.  This means being a strategic partner within the organization to each business unit/department.  It is more than simply offering a variety of the same old training courses to employees every year and includes managing the professional and personal development of the organization through comprehensive programs that:

  • Provide opportunities for individuals to grow within the organization and expand their responsibilities
  • Engage employees
  • Include strategic plans for high potential development and to meet succession plans
  • Ensure all new hires are integrated into the organization and providing value as quickly as possible
  • Provide a variety of options for learning to meet a variety of needs
    • Online (self-directed programs)
    • Instructor led programs that are hands-on, practical with action planning components
    • Social networking
    • Collaboration
    • On-the-job training
    • Mentoring
    • Virtual
    • Seminars and conferences
    • Webinars
    • Lunch & learns
  • Are directly tied to business results/impact on the business
  • Have metrics and measurements to show the value of the program to the bottom line

L&D groups must have an understanding of the organization as a whole – strategic plans, long-term objectives and goals.  Where does the organization want head in the next 3 years, 5 years, 10 + years?  How can the L&D group help them get there?  L&D needs to be a partner with the business units/departments to ensure that they are providing the resources and tools needed to ensure that each employee in their department is able to perform their role effectively and efficiently for the ultimate success of the individual and of the organization.  Ask each business unit/department head what they think their employees need for future success?  Maybe, for example, the organization is beginning to grow globally and the customer service department needs to understand how to communicate effectively with individuals from a variety of cultures.  Maybe the organization has recently merged with another organization and departments and cultures must be integrated.  Or maybe new employees are part of a generation that does want to sit in a classroom to learn – they are more interested in collaborating with others through social networking sites.  Think about how the L&D group can support these initiatives.

Once you know the direction you need the L&D group to move toward, start slowly – getting buy-in and support to reach your goals.  Develop a strategic plan to move forward.  What does L&D need to improve: Additional resources? Increased budget? Support from the businesses?  New technologies? Communicate frequently with each stakeholder about your vision and mission for L&D.  Measure your progress frequently.  Going off track?  No problem – fix what is going wrong and get back on track. Expect hiccups along the way.

Keep on your goal and you’ll find that the L&D group becomes an integral, strategic part of the organization – ready to meet the needs of each business unit/department – both now and in the future.

What changes have you seen in L&D groups?  What changes would you like to see to better support your personal and professional goals and that of the organization in which you work?  Share your thoughts in the Comments field below. Thanks!


White Paper, October, 2009: The Future of Learning & Development: Trends, Topics & Tools to Stay Ahead of the Curve

FutureThink, LLC, New York, NY

The Power of Learning: Fostering Employee Growth

Author: Klas Mellander.
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

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